Owning a home is tough. There is always something to do — be it fixing the leaky shower head, installing a new nightlight, or getting rid of the mould in the air-conditioning filter. Even if they are handy, hectic schedules preclude many Singaporeans from doing these routine home maintenance and improvement tasks, fueling the home services industry in the city-state.
But again, there is a challenge of how to select the best providers for these home services. Which electrical firm charges the most affordable rates for fixing water heaters? Which pest control firm can get rid of termites most thoroughly? Every time something breaks, homeowners need to find answers to these questions.
Enter Fixit. Founded by NUS Mechanical Engineering graduates Ramkumar Govindarajan and Adithyan Asokan, Fixit is a platform for connecting homeowners and home service providers. With exposure to family business and experience in designing and selling automotive race wear products respectively, Govindarajan and Asokan started Fixit in early 2013 with an initial paid up capital of S$50,000.
“Sometimes you call a provider you find on Google or Yellow Pages, and they don’t answer the phone,” said Asokan, who is also the CMO of the startup, adding, “Also, you cannot be sure that the guy you’re hiring is trustworthy or no. We, at Fixit, want to create a system where people can trust their service providers to serve them quickly, and within their budgets.”
The high tech adoption rate in Singapore also played a part in launching Fixit. “We looked at the astounding success of seemingly similar connecting platforms like Property Guru,” Founder and CEO Govindarajan noted. “The fact that people were already using the web for related services was a huge motivation for starting Fixit,” he further added.
Since its inception, Fixit has participated in the Startup Validation Programme (SVP) by NUS Enterprise. It received an undisclosed investment in September.
How can you choose the right handyman?
The operating concept of Fixit is simple. Using an online dashboard, homeowners can post a home improvement or maintenance job, select its urgency, and Fixit will take care of the rest. For the most urgent jobs, Fixit will dispatch the first available service provider to homes, while for less urgent tasks, it will provide homeowners with up to four quotes from service providers.
This selection of quotes is done through a smart algorithm, which takes into account the cost rating and history of the contractor. Homeowners can browse the profiles of the selected service providers and check reviews, testimonials and work portfolios, thereby empowering them to make more informed choices about who to take up for their jobs. Right now, Fixit covers five categories of home services, namely air-con maintenance, electrical work, home cleaning, home renovation, and plumbing.
How does Fixit make its moolah?
For homeowners, Fixit will be a free service, while service providers will pay a nominal fee as a monthly subscription. In addition, a 10 per cent cut will be taken from the value from each successful job brokered by Fixit. “We have asked several contractors about the pricing format and most agree that 10 per cent is a reasonable charge,” said the brand.
According to Govindarajan, the online home improvement and maintenance market in Singapore has heated up rapidly in 2013, creating a host of competitors, for example Kluje. “Back when Fixit was started in early 2013, there were no competitors in the market; however, unlike our competitors, we cover a wider range of needs — from pest control to cleaning to electrical and plumbing work,” he said.
“Also, we facilitate communication between service providers and homeowners, letting homeowners check on the progress of the job, along with giving providers the means to report any issues and problems with the job to their clients,” added Govindarajan.
Since January 31, 2014, Fixit has been in open beta, and counts nearly 25 service providers in its repertoire. In the future, Govindarajan and Asokan plan to introduce a more evolved and efficient platform, which includes an API for use in relevant e-commerce and property sites as well as an intuitive mobile app.
There are plans to expand overseas as well. “We plan to expand geographically into Hong Kong, as well as cities in Malaysia and Indonesia in the future, altering our product based on the taste and demands of the people in the respective countries,” Govindarajan concluded.