Be strong in your product idea but be ready to pivot if the market wants you to do so
Rachit Mathur Co-Founded FindYahan along with Snehil Khanor. He has an MBA from Canada university. Rachit has been an Internet Entrepreneur for almost 10 years. He started in 2006 and won the global leadership award for the venture and had an exit with an Australian company. He then started Masticart.com and ran it for 1.5 years but had to shut that venture down because of loss in the venture. When he began looking around on what to start, he zeroed in on the services marketplace. He found that there were lots of posters in the roads by service providers offering services but on the other hands, there were lots of people who wanted these service providers but did not know where to go and find them. Rachit found that the biggest set of service providers were the home entrepreneurs in India. They were marketing to their friends and families but had no place to market themselves (fashion designers, home makers with cooking skills) and hence this was largely untapped. He decided to build an online platform to build the two of them.
Rachit and Snehil took a lot of time to validate their business idea. They started meeting service providers and home based entrepreneurs and asked if they will register and would promote their services through a website if they would get connected to customers. He met more than 100 people over 6 months and all of them said that there was no platform that to connect them to their clients and they would instantly sign up. They now had the data to decide that this idea will work. Rachit was also contemplating two ideas to begin in these six months and did simultaneous customer validation. One was in the Alumnus Connect space and the second one was this. Since there was a lot of positive response for this, he decided to go with FindYahan. The development of the entire portal took 8 to 9 months.
Rachit says that there was a total change from what they started to what they are today. They began the portal as a listing portal where users can find all the service providers based on some search parameters and began growing the network. On the types of service providers, Rachit and team decided that they wanted to promote only services and not list any products. They also wanted to be in the lifestyle business as the nature of service is person based. They wanted to list service providers like Yoga teachers, Personal teachers, Caterers, Beauty or Make-up artists only to name a few of the categories. In the initial days, they focussed on signing up established service providers with good brand names to get good traction from customers. Rachit says that he found it very difficult to convince the established business men to come on to the network as they were already doing so well and they did not want to risk their reputation by getting listed on an unknown platform. Rachit and team had to sell so much to convince them to come on the platform. They convinced them to go online and try it free for a few days as they will not lose anything. The team worked so hard to spread the news of the portal and a select few providers and made people visit the portal. The customers were so happy to see the providers they were looking at and the providers were so happy that they got business from a new channel and gave FindYahan the go ahead for a long term subscription. Rachit says that they under committed and over delivered.
At some point in time, Rachit began getting feedback from the users that the search is adding confusion and they are not able to find the right service provider. For eg, if a customer wants someone who can make vegetarian food for 20 people with a maximum rate per plate, they were not able to find out the service provider who can match this requirement. FindYahan connected the two parties free of cost initially because they knew a few service providers capabilities. After a few interactions, they figured out that this is one service that the customers wanted and were willing to pay for and FindYahan pivoted. They have now become a Reverse Marketplace where customer can ask for service providers and FindYahan does the matchmaking.
On the reach to the consumers, they did both offline as well as online marketing. They do a focussed marketing approach and do offline events with Rental Welfare Associations of apartments. They do a presentation and educate the consumers on what the portal is, how the consumers can find and book services online. In Online Marketing, they do lots of social media marketing, email marketing, affiliate marketing. Rachit recollects that different initiatives have worked for different categories. For eg,. Facebook has worked so well for yoga teachers businesses but did not work for a caterer. They analysed the entire marketing metrics and they now know what kind of marketing works for what categories. They use the CPC Ratio with the usual tools that marketers use and find out the sources of hits. They have also appointed a PR agency and find that they get the maximum traction whenever they get a news article about them or a mention in any media.
Rachit’s Suggestion to early stage entrepreneurs – Always talk to your customers and give them what they want. Many times, you may think that you are giving the right kind of services to the market but talk to the customers to find out if you are right. You will have competition snapping at your heels even if you don’t one today and hence you should have a backup plan. Technology can never be a differentiator and you need to be very strong in your product idea but also be flexible to pivot if the markets wants tells you to do so. Finally, one of the Founders should be a marketer because the entrepreneur journey is filled with sales (selling to employees, customers, investors, Co-Founders etc.)
FindYahan today has 22 employees and have around 1,25,000 registered users and 4,500 service providers in the NCR region. They have more than 50,000 downloads on mobile apps. They have won the NDTV award for the best online business idea of the year. Rachit proudly says that he has a strong advisory board from investors such as Karan Bajwa (MD, Microsoft India) along with Parvesh Bareja (Director, HeliosPacks), Sunjay Kapur (MD, Sona Koyo Steering), and Amanpreet Bajaj (Ex Cofounder, Letsbuy.com) who are also involved in the company’s operations