Celebrities are reachable for people and not out of their league. Hyderabad based startup Jilmore is helping people connect with celebrities and bridging the concealed gap. Telugu360 is in conversation with Founder of Jilmore – SaradhiBabuRasala who tells us about Jilmore’s story
Could you pitch for your startup?
Jilmore is an online market place for all categories of performing artists. People who are in search ofentertainment Services for family celebrations, corporate events; can find their choicest celebrities using Jilmore.Interested users send an invitation to the artiste for an event with all details, synchronized with the artiste’s calendar and their availability. Prices and packages of entertainers are designed to suit your requirement well within the budget.
Tell us about your journey so far?
We started in 2015 with three founders. Since its inception, the Jilmore team has created a database of around 600 event artists.With the help of our mentor Nagabhushanam we could connect to SP Balasubramanyam who became the front face and brand ambassador for our company. We were/are a platform for singers and now expanded to anchors, actors and many more artists.
Can you walk us through the activities of your startup?
We do three things but soon will expand to corporate side. Firstly, we do entertainers and celebrity bookings for events. Secondly, Smart brand ambassador activity to connect celebrities to startups and small business. Thirdly, encouraging Talent from different Art forms and projecting them through different TV Shows like JilMoreAanimutyalu, JilMore.com – Corporate Start 2017, JilMore.com – School Star 2017.
Can you elaborate on Corporate start program?
On the corporate side – we are coming up with Corporate lifestyle program where we are collaborating with companies. Through this program, employee engagement at the same time company branding will happen. We will even telecast it in the TV and spread the word through celebrity. Hiring talent becomes easy because the brand value increases. We are conducting corporate star program like Indian idol.
You are the very few startups that went international. How did that happen?
The model which you chose is important when you want to go international. In a very short span of time, we launched franchise model and started operating in B2B2C model.We have started our franchises in 8 states of USA and UK. We did not want to create a new entity abroad. People approached us as they saw a need there and we gave our franchise to an existing entity.
How did experience from your two previous startups help in setting up Jilmore?
I had two startups before starting Jilmore. My previous startups needed huge marketing fund, working capital and the margin is less. If you maintain any inventory the commission is less and a lot of investment goes into operations. So,with Jilmore we jotted down all the points – ensured funding doesn’t become a big-criteria and also where we need not market a lot and giveaway huge discounts.
Can you brief us about your marketing strategy?
Jilmore follows an indirect marketing strategy. The celebrities themselves are our marketing base, because they can reach out to their followers and ask them to sign up with us. In a way, our supply itself is helping us create the demand.
Tell us about your interaction with celebrities
Being a techie guy, I was initially clueless. It took us sometime, but within our network we started knowing people and became knowledgeable. Most of the celebrities are punctual and maintain their professionalism. The attitude towards celebrities is also important which even our customers are following.
Who are your competitors?
Though we are unique startup, event management companies can be considered as competition for us. We are not event management company, a piece of it ‘celebrity arrangement’ is what our startup does. They are established market and have exclusive PR who maintains contacts and best quote. In near future, we may tie up with them for the Corporate and school program and want to work together.
Startups cannot afford to spend a lot on brand ambassadors.How does smart brand ambassador work?
That’s right a brand ambassador will charge a lot of money and will have to shoot an ad. But our model is different. A celebrity will check your app, use it and give a small byte and feel if it is really good, they will recommend it on their social media. Call ambulance app which was promoted part of the program is a fine example. The downloads from 7000 went upto 48000 downloads. We are budget friendly and createcontractfree model.
What changed from the time you started in 2015?
Jilmore has undergone a significant change. We thought the booking value would be small but it is more than what we expected. Our model has changed from the time we started off. Startup brand ambassador is a new addition. Association with TV channels is something we did not anticipate initially.
Could you tell us about your future plans?
The immediate goal is to sustain ourselves and create your own talent. There will be new talent coming in within 5years. We are going to schools through School Star 2017 to find such talent. In near future Jilmorewill be the hub for creative talent. Furthermore, we want to expand in complete South India.
What is your advice for startups?
I have three things to convey to startups–Firstly, don’t invest all your money in technology-try to get traction and see how is it working or not. Only then invest on technology phase wise. Secondly, don’t waste time on finding investments – just do small business, generate the revenue yourself. Finally, Equity is the most valuable thing. Think before diluting equity.
Hyderabad based startup FIXU is an Umbrella brand for everything. Founded in the year 2016 by Vamshi Krishna, the startup provides on-demand service professionals such as Electricians, Plumbers, Beauticians, Carpenters, Painters and Pest controllers through its mobile app. Telugu360 is in conversation with Vamshi, who tells us more about his early startup…
Could you pitch for your startup?
Everybody needs a handyman and there are many available in the market. But yet a person has to wait 3-5hours for a repair to be done. FixU sends a handyman to your doorstep in just 10to15minutes. With 25plus services in Hyderabad, FixU is an Online-handyman aggregator who knocks your door in the shortest possible time.
What is something you did not anticipate will ever happen?
First let me tell you the bad surprise. Five days after we went live, our website was hacked. Fortunately, the data was encrypted and couldn’t be stolen. The good or let me call it the best surprise is, being about 75days old startup we got selected for Facebook’s developer-focused FbStart programme.
You are the only startup in Hyderabad to be selected for the FbStart. How is it helping you?
Yes. We are also the seventh Startup in India to receive access to $40,000 worth of credits and services from the social networking giant. It is giving us more than 25plus advantages where startups spend in initial stages. We got amazon credits up to 3lakhs per year for cloud services. A considerable amount of cost is cut for an early stage startup. Also, we get free marketing credits, access to the exclusive community of Facebook’s developers for one full year.
What is next in store being part of FbStart?
FbStart in itself is a big thing for a 3month old startup. The tech part helped us to get there. Now we got selected for global competition by Facebook for all the startups curated for Fbstart. Only few of them have been selected and we are one of them. If we win we will get 1crore prize money which would be 50 percent cash reward and 50 percent facebook goodies. We hope to be the one who is selected from startups across the world as this will help in funding.
What is your funding pattern?
We are currently bootstrap and are earning decent commission on every single transaction. This will be able help us to get through the next 6to8months easily. However, we are hunting for investors for our angel round. The market potential for our startup is as high as 8billion dollars in India. We are looking for 20percent equity dilution, 250000$ to complete 1lakh transactions on FixU.
You have seen failures in two startups on your part. What differently you did for this to work?
Yes, two startups did not work for me, but that did not stop me from pursuing what I want. This time we are going hard on technology. The technology is so robust that anyplace in this world, just plug and play the app. Apart from that there is a lot of learning in terms of financials, legalities, mentors that I am carrying forward from ecosystem.
How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
There are startups like us but they are just another version of Just-Dial. Our vendors are not restricted by the location and can get orders outside the radius of the vendor. We are on-demand service. Fortunately, our customers need not schedule the request and are not bound by location.
Where do you see yourself in next 5years?
There is a demand for us and we want to add another 75services to our bucket list. We want to make our presence felt in at least two cities by end of August – Bengaluru and Mumbai. We will be capturing all over India particularly Tier1 and Tier2 cities. In another six to seven years we want to go international. Hopefully, FixU will be soon deciding rates of every technician or service personnel every day.
You are a small team; how will you achieve your expansion plans?
We want to invest in a good team but with our technology driven app, sitting in a small room with an internet connection one can run FixU. The direct employment rate is low, no new warehouse is required nor do we need to train resource. Our technology is our strength, registration process is online with curated updates. We are onboarding hundreds of handymen.
What was a big challenge for you and how did you overcome?
Onboarding vendors has been a big challenge always. A sudden change in an unexplored market will confuse the vendors. Our vendors are servicing maximum within distance of 3to5kms. We are sending vendors in more than 80% cases in 10-15min. Another big thing is, Reliance Jio which helped in easing our woes, we are FixU, before and after Jio. This will take forever for our competitors to kill us.
What’s in store for users in the immediate future?
We have a big update next month. This will make changes to UI and it easier than current version. We are doing a rebranding activity. Apart from that, before the offers expire, download the app on Android and IOS and get any outstanding fixes for your home repaired immediately.
Happiness is having homemade food when away from home. Hyderabad based startup Tinmen is providing the taste of home-cooked food by allowing office-goers to schedule weekly lunches. Telugu360 is in conversation with co-founder – Chaitanya who tells us about how Tinmen is ending cravings for homemade food…
How does TinMen work?
TinMen provides variety of healthy and affordable meals for office goers who prefer home cooked food. It is very simple – firstly install our app. Register and create your weekly meal plan by choosing from various food options. Recharge the wallet and click on the start deliveries button. The meals will get delivered at work until you pause or run out of wallet balance. One can order on the website as well at www.tinmen.in/app
Congratulations on the second round of funding. Could you brief us about your funding pattern?
Thank you. Our angel round was funded by the Lead Angel Network in 2016. Last week we raised investment round from MAPE Advisory Group, R. Ramaraj, Co-Founder, Sify, Corvus Ventures led by Mahesh Reddy and our existing investors from the Lead Angels network
Is there any specific reason for having set multiple targets, like growing 10x and expansion?
Yes, we have set multiple targets which will be achieved over the next 12 to 18months. We were initially conservative focusing on profitability and unit economics. These will be priority even while we fast-track our goals.
What part of your startup is outsourced?
We are a marketplace for Home-chefs. Home cooked food is sourced from our home-chefs and we don’t own kitchen. We control delivery but a have hybrid delivery mode while we fully control the operations. We are a core team of eight including tech, infra, customer support etc. and take external support for marketing.
You’ve mentioned that a considerable proportion of the new funding will go into marketing… any specific reason?
We generally don’t do marketing blasts. It is not a traditional product and it is not an on-demand food service. A lot of customer education is required which we have successfully done in the past. Since our inception, we have a number of subscribed users who we might not have been able to serve who we are looking to convert.We know that there is latent demand given the growth we have seen and the number of subscriptions coming through. We need to push into that particular area.
What goes into the process of selecting home chefs?
Home chefs are our suppliers and we continuously build on them. We do a lot of scrutiny for them. Only one in ten get selected from those who apply on our website. We have cut off based on hygiene, quality, quantity and location. The taste is paramount. We have chefs from across cuisines including Andhra, Telangana, Hyderabadi, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Jain, Continental etc. All chefs have a set of standards to follow while we help them with pricing, packaging and marketing their product. We do a pilot run and check feedback from the users. We also monitor the food from home-chefs on daily basis, apart from the validation of market. We also continuously are on the lookout for new chefs who can sign up with us at bit.ly/becometinmenchef
The Home-Chefs of Tinmen belong to middle class and upper middle class. On a broader scale, lower middle class and poor home-chefs need Tinmen more. How would Tinmen address this issue?
Our home-chefs come from different strata of the society. To enable more chefs to come on board, however we have thought of models where we could set up a kitchen where home-chefs will be able just cook and while we provide them with operational support. These are ideas we are yet to explore somewhere down the line.
Do you want to formalize the home-chefs sector?
Home-chefs per se are not an organized industry. Startups as such try to bring opportunities wherever possible where there are unorganized markets. The app which is a marketplace of these many separate home-chefs gives them an opportunity to be part of a larger network and pursue their passion and helps them gain financial independence.
Most of the startups are critical about their operations. Is it challenging for you as well?
Operational efficiency is critical to us, as mentioned, we try to schedule our deliveries so that we can provide that benefit to our customers. Since it is pre-scheduled we have a control on who goes where. That being said, we are also increasing our product offerings in order to increase the efficiency.
What has been the significant change since your inception?
Broadly the principle has remained the same. Creating the marketplace for Home-chefs was the first principle.Operating at efficiency by prescheduling was the second. Otherwise new features and updates is how startups evolve. We used to do lunches, now we do dinners to offices and homes. We have opened up our second hub in the city and now serve from Gachibowli to Begumpet. We are in the process of doing snacks as well soon.