“It my personal belief that if you start a new venture do it atleast for a thousand days. If you do it for a thousand days you will never think of closing it.”- Prahllad Mittal In a conversation with Startup Story Media, Prahllad Mittal talks about his venture Homevery, a home service providing app
Prahllad always had an entrepreneurial drive, as a graduate of VSSUT Burla, in his second year of college he started Gift Graphite, in order to do something new, something different. Gift Graphite provided customers with a personalized sketch of the photo they wanted with the help of talented artists.
The Inspiration Behind it All
Homvery was started in 2017 during Prahllad final year of college. He didn’t consider placement owing to his business. The co-founders include his childhood friend and brother. They started homvery to provide home maintenance service. “Engineering kar rahe ho toh Naukri karo warna engineering kyu kiye” fearing this judgement from his parents, Prahllad started this venture without informing them. He conducted a three month pilot run for his business in Burla, a small town in Odisha. Upon receiving a good response he expanded to Sambalpur and informed his parents about Homvery. There was initial friction from his parents but eventually they agreed.
When asked why he started Homvery, Prahllad narrates a story which inspired him. At home he saw that whenever his father would call their electrician, the electrician would come immediately but when his mother would call him, he would give excuses or delay. when he personally confronted the electrician inquiring the reason behind his behavior, he told that his father doesn’t bargain with him. “If I ask for 200, he gives me 200”. That’s why he comes when his father calls.
Prahllad thought about how Indians have a habit of bargaining. That’s when he brainstormed with his fellow founders on this issue. They came up with an idea for an app where there is no option to bargain. First the price is quoted, then the price is agreed upon by the customer and only after that the work commences. Homvery also has an interesting provision where if a technician fails to quote the price before the job, he would have to accept whatever the customer gives him.
Homvery is an app to provide home services of all kinds. They started with basic services like electrician, plumber and repairing and expanded to adding services like choreographers, wedding planners etc. On the app, customers can set, date and time to book required service, a technician will visit , inspect the site, quote the price and start the work. Homvery comes from joining the words Home & delivery. The rationale was that people remember one word names better. Before lockdown Homvery was only functioning in sambalpur and burla. But, they took advantage of the pandemic induced lock down and expanded to Bhubaneswar. With this move they undertook a big jump from a small city to the state capital, which is no small feat. “While others were closing shop we were expanding. People who put their mind to innovate their business in times of adversity are the ones who stand the test of time.” Says Prahllad. The Startup even got their essential service license to keep functioning during the lock down.
What Makes them Different
Company focuses on tier two and tier three cities. They don’t focus on tier one. “We only faced competition from Local technician as people were dependent on them before we came to picture. we started partnering with them. The best strategy is to make your competitor your partner. We endeavored to provide job security for both of us.” Prahllad explains.
What’s in Store for Homvery ?
Homvery, being a bootstrap venture has been profitable for the last one and a half years. They are witnessing good growth and steady order numbers. While talking about his plans for the future founder says, “it is our target to cover 100 cities of India by 2025.”
The Precious Team
The team of Homvery consists of 70 +technicians who they call experts. There is a dedicated app for these experts for people to reach them. These experts work on a partner basis with the startup According to Prahllad, people now trust startups to maintain ethical credibility. We know we have to integrate with an online platform to survive. It was tough to get employees online and get them to use apps and digital platforms, but we prepared them by gradually introducing them to technology and educating them on all thing digital. We conduct monthly meets and bonus distribution, grievances handle, feedback to keep our employees motivated.
During lock-down Prahllad arranged for doctor and conducted and do and don’t practice meeting to educated employees on hygiene practices in order to protect his employees, customers and the business itself.
Marketing strategy from hundred rupee note
Initially Startup relied on door to door pamphlet distribution to get people to try their service. Digital marketing was also used. Prahllad made a newspaper advertisement for Homvery attractive by printing a 100rs note to grab attention of the reader. This campaign was also covered by Marketing Mind Facebook page.
Never to loose faith
Prahllad thought since we Homvery was a local startup it would get local support but what happened was the opposite. First people took their time in understanding what services were provided. A Small city like Sambalpur had no service of this sort. Then he changed his strategy we marketed Homvery as a Bangalore based company to instill confidence in customers. After experiencing the services, people realized its efficiency and accepted it for what it was.
Challenges like creative differences between the founders also exist. “Since we are just three its not a problem as we only have one deciding vote.” He said jokingly.
Prahllad’s strategy of the Rs. 100 also faces backlash online. But, despite all this, he never lost faith in his ideas and conviction.
The Customer is king, but not always!
Customer experience so far has been great for Homvery. Talking about customer experience of Homvery Prahllad says, “If a startup says they have 100% customer satisfaction they are lying. We face dissatisfied customers once in a while but it isn’t an issue for us. We work on our service and provide them with a better experience to convert them on our side back again.”
Once a customer misbehaved with one of our employees, when we received information about it, we banned the customer from our app. It is important for us to protect our employees.
Prhallad’s Vision for Homvery
Prahllad has a vision of setting in peoples mind that whatever home service they want they should call homvery. He wants homvery to become synonymous with home services. He believes “It will take time but we are on that path.”
“Don’t keep a plan B because you will depend on it and won’t give your all to make your plan A success. If plan you will keep planning so plan less and work more. You can adapt and change your plan as you go”. Prahllad’s business mantra is to work productively to gain success and keep trying even if you fail.