Entrepreneurship – a chance or choice?
Back in the summer of 2011, a young girl called Shaifali Agarwal had a rite of passage. She was making the move from a PG to a rented house all on her own. Coming from a small town in Uttarakhand, Shaifali had studied and now been working in Delhi for 4 years, and was finally able to afford that house.
However, it turned out to not be all-so-smooth. The house had a funny electricity problem that just wouldn’t go away, and it took her dozens of JustDial calls, scores of failed promises that “the electrician is just coming”, and more than a few rude, dishonest and incompetent electricians to finally find the one who would solve the problem. However, as entrepreneurs do, she saw that this is a problem worth solving – and Easyfix was born.
HOW SHE SET IT UP
Shaifali Agarwal Holani founded EasyFix at the young age of 25 after struggling for a month to fix the electricity problems in her newly rented house. Getting home repairs and maintenance work done is a inescapable requirement for most households – and there’s no reason for the experience to not be better, she thought, and decided to take on the challenge herself. Home repairs and maintenance is a notoriously difficult industry, and moreover, is dominated by men. “Unusual business for a girl to be doing” is the first remark she invariably hears on introducing herself to strangers. However, for those who know Shaifali, it’s not that unusual.
Born in Almora, Uttarakhand; Shaifali went to school at the St. Xaviers Convent in Nainital and then returned home to college at Kumaun university. She was known as the tomboy of her small town in those days, beating the boys in table tennis matches, and flitting about town on her TVS scooty. After college she went to ICFAI Business School in Gurgaon for her MBA and joined a small company called Channelplay as a Management Trainee in 2008. After 2 years at Channelplay, she moved to Jagran Solutions and to a new house in Delhi, where the struggles started and idea that led to Easyfix originated.
HUNT FOR FUNDS
Idea in hand, she approached her circle of contacts for initial seed capital, and found it in Sundeep Holani, the founder and CEO of her ex-employer Channelplay. Sundeep provided her seed capital and access to Channelplay’s support functions such as HR, Finance and Technology and also came in as a Director on Easyfix’s board. As the company grew, love bloomed, and Shaifali and Sundeep got married to each other in March of 2014.
Shaifali is a hard-charging entrepreneur with two missions – to improve the quality of life of people by improving their home maintenance experiences, and to improve the quality of life of her technicians by providing them opportunities for higher income, and also the ability to grow personally and professionally by adding technical skills and improving soft skills. With time, she also intends to bring benefits such as health and life insurance to her technicians, scholarships for their children and also run other social programs that can help improve the lives of technicians, who’re otherwise quite marginalized by the modern economy.
She’s making good progress on both fronts. EasyFix now serves over 500 customers every day, and is making a average contribution of thousands of additional rupees every month to well over 1000 technicians across the country.
BUSINESS GOALS AHEAD
The goals are to scale both numbers by many multiples, and now with the support of Axilor and her new team members – she’s very optimistic about doing this in short order.
EasyFix started with a simple premise that was summarized in its tag line – “The one-call home repairs service”. This means that we expect our customers to have to make only one call for any home repairs and maintenance needs, and EasyFix takes care of the rest. EasyFix maintains a pool of quality and safety checked technicians who are extensively trained on soft skills, finds the best technician for the customer’s problem, ensures that they reach on time, behave properly and charge fairly, and then provides a service warranty in which customer’s get a free fix in rare cases when the problem is not fixed properly the first time.
WHAT MAKES US TICK
Customer satisfaction feedback is taken after every call, and we take continuous corrective action to move our services towards perfection. At the same time, EasyFix was fulfilling its social vision of providing more income to its technician partners, while upskilling and training them to become better and more valuable in their work.
The hunch that unprofessional home repairs and maintenance is a problem that many people want to get fixed turned out to be true and EasyFix has seen robust growth over the years. Starting from just serving South Delhi in 2011, the company now serves all of NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Chennai, Kolkata, Goa and Ahmedabad. The company was given a small initial seed fund by the CEOs of one of the companies Shaifali had worked at, and the focus was on running the company profitably and with our own resources – which it managed to do.
Many people credit Shaifali with it, or maybe it’s just coincidence – but the founding of EasyFix was followed by many similarly named, similarly themed and even similarly logo-ed start-ups. However, Easyfix has continuously engaged independent audit organizations to measure its performance on parameters such as customer experience & technician quality etc., and has always found itself on top of the industry.
HOW WE GREW
While Easyfix has grown organically and has expanded steadily on its own resources – the ubiquity of mobile apps has created new dynamics where technology can enable even better customer experience, while providing an opportunity for faster adoption and growth. Venture capital focus on the hyper-local economy has also created a number of players who are generating customer leads, but have no reliable partner to fulfil them. To address the needs of technology adoption and faster growth, Easyfix decided to raise some capital as well, and recently got funded by Axilor, a Bangalore based fund and accelerator program started by some of the founders of Infosys.
With the new investment and the addition of iconic minds such as S.D. Shibulal to the board, EasyFix is fast-forwarding to deliver on its promise of delightful home repairs services. It’s investing in technology to bring the home repairs experience to feel much like getting an Uber cab, and it’s building a team to take it to 15 cities by this years end, and 50 by next year’s end. It’s already helping improve the jobs and lives of over 1000 technicians, and this number will go to 10,000 by the end of the next year.