'Make in India' Initiative Inspired This Engineer-MBA Duo To Build Bro4U
Based out of Bengaluru, Bro4u is the hyperlocal services marketplace that caters to the daily needs of people - be it getting an electrician or plumber or hiring laundry, pet care, pest control, car wash or computer related services. Co-founded by Pramod Hegde and Rajath KR in January 2015, this startup aims to become the one-stop e-commerce marketplace for services. Within two weeks of initiating, the duo was joined by a few team members and they had started building the platform out of a 2BHK in Bangalore. One guy who later went on to lead the company's technical operations was Akshay Harish (now CTO) who single-handedly designed and developed the Bro4u website.
Pramod Hegde, who has had very humble beginnings, comes from a agriculture family. He studied for his degree from an evening college in Bangalore. He did his MBA Finance from Acharya College (batch of 2011) and worked at an US-based Asset management Firm for about 3 years. Today, Pramod (CEO) and Rajath (COO) head the 17 people strong Bro4u.com team and are looking to expand out of Bangalore soon.
We got Pramod Hegde to feature in an exclusive interview with us to talk about their startup's journey so far and all their ongoing work. Read on!
Pramod Hegde, CEO - Bro4u
CE: When did you decide to become an entrepreneur? What was the tipping point? What made you quit your job?
Pramod: The problem statement itself. Today 9 out of 10 persons living in urban cities need our services, as home services is everyday pain point. We always wanted to make something really big which can bring smile in to the face of millions of people. I thought nothing else could be as big as home services, as here we have a chance to become a household name. More importantly, our beloved Prime Minister’s “Make in India” campaign inspired us to start.
CE: What was the main influence that led you to start Bro4u? What planning/research did you do before starting up the company?
Pramod: Just one simple fact that - how can we tackle one of the most untapped challenge. Despite the fact that, home service is the biggest market to crack, the popular startup names in this segment are very few - almost close to none. Difficult things always attract talent as India is full of youth and all of these youth like to take bigger challenges today.
We didn't do the market study, because everybody knows it’s a big market, instead we tried to understand the problem statement from both customers and service providers. It was one simple problem – Demand and supply inefficiency. We thought technology can solve this. Every passing day our process opened up new challenges - Like Quality of services. Then we started training our vendors on quality aspects. Like this we have had lot of research and actions.
CE: What was going on in your mind when you were laying the bricks for this startup?
Pramod: Problem is big and you can’t find an overnight solution. Try, try and try.
Rajath KR, COO - Bro4u
CE: Did your work experience in StateStreet and EY prove helpful while starting your own venture?
Pramod: It indeed helped. In the corporate world, you learn how to prioritise tasks, manage teams, have goal oriented actions etc. My days at State Street helped me get groomed especially on team building.
CE: What are the challenges of dealing with the doorstep service industry?
Pramod: Almost everything- Safety matters - Timeliness – Quality – Service providers’ direct connection with customers. In Internet business, customers will have high expectation and living up to that takes a lot of effort .
CE: Any interesting story to share from last few months of dealing with your customers?
Pramod: The journey itself is exciting and every day you see some interesting things. However, when our users tell us that “This is the great solution you have built and you guys will make it big.” - This inspires us most.
What is Bro4u's revenue model? Is the company profitable yet? How many orders have you completed so far?
Pramod: Commission on every successful transaction is our revenue. We are taking 10% cut today. However our major focus is get critical mass and market expansion.
We have close to 100 transactions a day and about 15000 apps downloads with about 2000 unique hits every day.
CE: What is the biggest lesson you've learned while running Bro4U?
Pramod: Customer is first, everything else is next. To solve big problems technology is the only solution and we have to be very sharp in it. We have zero tolerance when it comes to the matter of customer satisfaction. That’s why we have received several wonderful reviews from our customers.
CE: What are the challenges associated with getting vendors on-board?
To train and groom vendors so that they meet the expectation of internet customers and make them technology friendly was a bit of a challenge.
But as large number of these mass already are familiar with mobile phones, it was not so tough to solve.
CE: How did you gather the initial resources required to get the site up and running? Is this company bootstrapped?
Pramod: Yes, we are bootstrapped; we are 17 guys team from day one. Hence, building site to coding app to finding vendors and selling to customers, it’s all our team and when we started, it was with almost no or little money.
The Bro4u Team
CE: Whom do you consider as your biggest competitors? What do you do differently?
Pramod: The market for the hyperlocal services has only now started taking shape. A few companies got early funds back in March to May, but we still see a lot of opportunity. As the problem is too big to solve, many players are trying different model and we are offering one such different model which has complete differentiation in terms of consumer discovery experience and demand supply management.
CE: Bro4u currently operates only in Bengaluru. Are there any expansion plans underway?
Pramod: Yes, Countdown begins! We have teased and tested the model in Bangalore and it is working absolutely fine. Therefore, we are considering the idea of stepping in southern capital first and enter Mumbai and Delhi soon after. We are envisioning 20 cities in next 18 months.
CE: How big is your team at the moment? How do you go about hiring employees at Bro4u?
Pramod: Seventeen guys - One thing we look at – are guys humble enough to become all rounders. Having said that, we have already found our very strong extended team with expertise in each department. You would see a lot of news about results of our highly talented folks in next few weeks/months.
CE: Any message for your readers at CrazyEngineers?
Pramod: Stay foolish and stay hungry but be some crazy too. The process of Bro4u helped us understand how important the technology is today. You guys (engineers) have a lot of work to do.