[The Turning Point] A look back at what led to the launch of Urban Company, one of India’s last unicorns


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Urban Company – formerly known as Urban Clap – is not the first startup launched by Varun Khaitan, Abhiraj Bhal and Raghav Chandra.

The three engineers decided to quit their cushy jobs to start a service that solved a main need of customers in India: home services.

Today, Urban Company has come a long way.

The startup, launched to create a whole new category in 2014, has now grown into the largest home service provider in India. It was most recently wrapped $ 255 million Series F financing at a valuation of $ 2.1 billion, in a cycle led by Prosus Ventures, Dragoneer and Wellington Management, with the participation of Vy Capital, Tiger Global and Steadview.

How it started

Abhiraj and Varun, friends since the days of IIT-Kanpur, often connected and talked about entrepreneurship.

After a brief corporate career at Boston Consulting Group (Abhiraj) and Qualcomm (Varun), they both decided to take the startup step – they launched Cinemabox, a service that allows travelers to stream movies to their phones. in planes, trains or buses, in early 2014. But this startup closed its doors within six months.

Around this time, they met Raghav Chandra, a former Twitter engineer, through mutual friends. Raghav had also tried his hand at entrepreneurship with Buggi, an on-demand rickshaw call platform that closed shortly after its pilot.

The trio connected and stayed in touch. During one of their “intense” conversations, Abhiraj, Varun and Raghav realized that there was a gaping hole in the Indian home care market, “a lack of transparency and credibility”.

“We have all faced problems at some point in finding the right plumber, electrician or esthetician, and getting them to provide us with services at the right time,” says Abhiraj.

“We realized that local services as an industry are such a central part of our lives, yet extremely broken. Current solutions have not improved beyond phone call lists over the past decade, while other adjacent industries advance with technological innovation, ”he said earlier. Your story.

It was their aha moment, and Urban Company – then Urban Clap – was born in November 2014.

Founders of the urban enterprise

Rebranding and growth

The Gurugram-based company quickly started to make waves and gained the attention of investors as well. In 2015, the startup raised $ 1.5 million in funding from SAIF Partners and Accel Ventures.

At that time, she was offering various services – from beauty and wellness education and others such as CA on demand. Over the years, the company has decided to focus on a few select services – house maintenance and grooming / beauty.

It has developed a close integration with the supply ecosystem, which takes place at different levels. The service delivery experience has been condensed into five levels, to make it simple for clients and professionals. This has become their biggest competitive advantage – and the founders previously shared that it took two years to perfect this five-tier model.

Since then, the home services start-up has grown by leaps and bounds. In addition to beauty services and appliance repairs, the company has also grown in verticals such as pest control, cleaning and painting.

In January 2020, Urban Clap rebranded itself as Urban Company, a name aligned with the company’s ambition to be a horizontal concert market, with a global footprint and a leadership position in all service categories. .

Urban Company now has more than 35,000 service partners in 35 cities in India, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Australia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It offers a variety of in-home services to consumers, including beauty care, haircuts, deep cleaning, plumbing, carpentry, and appliance repairs.

The founders are working to further penetrate existing markets, entering the top 100 cities in India and venturing into new geographies overseas this year.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai
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