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Sulekha : Catering To Over 40 Cities across 800 Plus Categories in Local Service Market

Sulekha has around 2500 employees across the country, who are providing skills and service support, and has close to 90,000+ paying businesses who are live on the site and 5.5 million+ active business listings., founded in 1998 by Satya Prabhakar, operates as an online and mobile media company in India. The company provides local online classified listing and e-commerce services to business and it also helps customers to look up business information. It enables the consumers to interact with businesses and fellow consumers and rate/review the business. This company catering to local service market operates from its fifteen offices located in India.

In 1998, Sulekha started its journey in the US and entered India market in 2007 with the concept of bringing classified ads to people through the internet; this idea was way ahead of its time. Today, Sulekha is one of the largest in this space today; It has around 2500 employees across the country, who are providing skills and service support, and has close to 90,000+ paying businesses who are live on the site and 5.5 million+ active business listings.

Sulekha connects 25 million users with more than 5 million businesses each month across different local service categories each month – including home services, coaching & tuition, property, rentals, computer training and approximately 800+ other sub-categories.

In an exclusive interaction with BWdisrupt team, Satya talked about Indian local service market and his new brand campaign, Antijugaad.

Journey so far

Overall, it’s been a great journey; we have a very bright opportunity in front of us. We are excited because we’ve built a strong team. Today we cater to over 40 cities across 800 plus categories. While most local services platforms can boast of catering to about 70-80 categories, we have covered a huge spectrum of services across various geographies in India. We can confidently say today that we have the largest base of customers and local service partners. We’re in an awesome situation and are quite excited to be where we are.

Market opportunity in Indian Local services market

The local services market in India is a $200 billion opportunity; that’s around Rs 10 lakhs crores a year. Local services are about transactions between users who avail of them and service partners all across the country. Only about 3-4% of the opportunity that exists in the market is enabled through web or mobile. We believe that there is a lot of untapped potential in this space.

Future Plans

Our plan for India is to make it to 300,000 paid service partners in the next two years, and take the number of users to around 30 million a month. We aim to have a frictionless local services platform delivering superior experience to users.

Go #Antijugaad: New Brand Campaign

In our daily life, because of various reasons and constraints, we tend to solve problems using makeshift solutions. India today is quite advanced, and increasingly users are not happy with just makeshift solutions, and would prefer if professionals could attend to their service requirements. Sulekha urges users to go anti-Jugaad.

We launched our Go #Antijugaad campaign in January this year. The video ad received an overwhelming response across all digital platforms and soon started trending on twitter. Sulekha released the video ad exclusively on digital media and it became a viral sensation even before it started airing on TV. The creative, assisted by a massive 120,000+ audience shares on social media and untracked number of forwards on Whatsapp, reached an estimated 36 million Internet users on Facebook, Youtube, and Whatsapp all across India within 5 days. The ad reached 36+million unique users within 5 days of campaign launch in 8 metros and was seen by 9+ million unique users across 8 metros in that period.

Funding Status

We have some of the best investors from around the world; GIC, the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore, and Norwest Venture Partners, a top-tier global investment firm, invested about $28 million a year ago. We are all very happy with the investment.

As far as the future plans go, we don’t require any additional funds now, but if there are great opportunities, we would be happy to get on board. But right now, we’re not actively looking to raise money.

Fund Utilization

We had a clearly demarcated strategy for utilizing the funds even before we went out looking. Given the unorganized nature of service industry in India, we wanted to take it upon us to organize this sector and provide a top-class, homogenous experience to our user base. The major avenue for investing the fund money is in creating a superior product that delivers happiness to our users. The fund is also used to recruit talent and for marketing Sulekha.

Differentiating Factor

Through the years we have developed a strong service partner base in diverse categories. Currently, we are operating in 800+ categories with 5.5 million+ active business listings. We provide the user with the maximum number of options across the 800 category space. All the businesses available on our platform undergo a rigorous KYC process.

This enables us to provide reliable professionals across the local service categories for a user.

Also, at this scale as well we ensure that the user privacy is secure. The user details are not shared with the service partners as all the calls go via Sulekha virtual numbers.

Strategies To Beat The Competition

We are concentrating on how to make the user experience better for our customers, and are currently ensuring that the service partners available on the platform are thoroughly verified.

Also, we are working on the new age product design and performance to better the relevance for both the user and the service provider.

Advice To New Entrants

Entrepreneurship is extremely hard to succeed in, because the hours you have to put in are stressful. One has to be very sure about where one wants to be, and work towards it.

Working hard is not enough; there are so many unknowns in entrepreneurship that pose challenges along the way, along with work-associated hurdles. Luck is a major factor.

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