Urban life is today defined by the ability to find required services on time, be it electricians, plumbers, computer servicing or even baby-sitters and caterers. As late as the early 2000’s most people would mine through reams of Yellow Pages or carefully-compiled personal directories to find the right people at the right price for various jobs that need to be done either by chance or design in urban dwellings. We even prevailed on our contacts – friends, neighbours, relatives to point us in the right direction. We have since traded in the Yellow Pages/directories for online service fulfillment and listings sites or their apps.
Sulekha.com, founded by Satya Prabhakar who is also the CEO, is one such website which been around for over a decade now and has grown to cover more than 40 cities, connecting tens of millions of users and local businesses in 800+ need categories such as computer training, serviced apartments, elder care, yoga lessons, kitchen renovation, wedding photography, moving-packing, pest control and much more. Sulekha has 14 offices and 1,300+ employees across India, including Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Austin and New York in United States and Toronto in Canada.
In December 2013, Sulekha launched their app for android users to help the millions of Indian smartphone users looking for service professionals. The app provides this information on the go with the same quality of service users experience on the site. With over 100,000 downloads, users can access all the features and services available on the site. The app is also available on iPhone and iPad. Sulekha advocates a quick 3 step method to getting the job done:
1: Tell us about the local service you are looking for.
2: Get free quotes from right businesses in response to your specific need.
3: Choose the business that best fits your need. Done!
In an interview, Satya revealed that more than one-third of their users were active through their mobile platform and about 25% of their responses and leads come through mobile which is expected to rise to over 50% in 18-24 months. He also believes that the growth of Tier II cities will spur the growth in demand for local services and sites like Sulekha which provide the connections.
Chennai-based Sulekha boasts of having more than 4 million business listings and over 2 million active businesses and over 20 million users visiting the site to purchase services and products from these businesses. Sulekha does not charge users any fees but monetises by charging the businesses/service providers a fee and from its 1500+ advertisers.
Growing popularity online as well as through its app has drawn investors and given the company access to funding to grow its business to more cities within India as well in cities in United States and Canada. Most recently in April this year it secured Rs.175 crore funding from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC and venture capital Norwest Venture Partners.
For Satya this funding signifies a powerful endorsement of the vast potential of the local services opportunity in India and Sulekha.com’s ability to execute it successfully. Promod Haque, Senior Managing Partner of Norwest Venture Partners agrees,
Sulekha’s innovative digital platform allows users to fulfil their needs while providing a highly targeted and affordable avenue for small businesses to secure customers. Sulekha is seizing an enormous opportunity in transforming how businesses find local customers and grow and we look forward to significant scale ahead.”
Sulekha.com competes in a space occupied by other online classified and listings businesses like AskLaila, JustDial and recent startups like UrbanClap, LocalOye. Its popular app has won the 2015 GMASA Best Business App Award at the first ever Global Mobile App Summit at Chennai. It has now been nominated for the mBillionth Award South Asia 2015.