Megha Vohra Babaycon: the influential empress disrupting the domestic services industry with her venture QuickFix
Modern lives had both taken a toll and benefitted from the impact of the Industrial Revolution, largely due to the inventions, living conditions gradually got better. Science and technology have focused on the liberation of man from daily hectic and mundane activities through inventions like the vacuum cleaner, the washing machine etc. Such inventions could not only manage the individual's investment of time but also facilitated in the swift execution of the task. Now with the fourth phase of Industrial revolution /technological revolution, the disruption in the traditional service industry is of high magnitude and sudden change; companies are now using technology to provide more personalized services in order to remain relevant in the competitive picture. The nature of the business in the service industry is shifting to the personalization of services with an emphasis on individual needs. In our day-to-day lives, we often find ourselves stuck in a particular work of a different nature, assigned to us. Many times, the complexity of work irate us badly and we are compelled to take the assistance of different solution providers. However, after taking the help of distinct people, things become more complicated. For assorted nature of jobs, we need a different set of providers; it is one of the reasons, why people started looking for alternatives. These circumstances provided an opportunity for many innovative minds to come up with solutions. One among those creative minds led to the establishment of a unique startup, QuickFix, which was concerned with providing a one-stop solution for many problems of day-to-day living. In our candid chat with the founder of the company, Megha Vohra Babaycon, we asked some questions pertaining to her entrepreneurial journey, solutions offered by it and underlying challenges.
Here are the excerpts.
How has been the journey so far since the inception of this unconventional entrepreneurial venture?
Joint efforts of my late husband Nadir Babaycon and me resulted in the incorporation of QuickFix. We wanted to provide a resolution to solve many quandaries of daily routines. I along with my husband came to notice that there was a lack of professional services for household immediate care in the city. This came to our notice because of our personal experiences in day-to-day life. Taking this into consideration, we thought of establishing our company to provide a one-stop solution for housekeeping, plumbing, electrical works, all kinds of upholstery cleaning, pest controls, façade cleaning, laundry and overall maintenance of a private residence or commercial space. With QuickFix coming in, we gave consumers a one-stop shop for solving all their domestic needs. It could be something as small as hanging a painting on the wall or cleaning car interiors. We have given consumers an open platform to put in their queries. Our company takes care of everything; ranging from small, big or even mixed queries from exterior servicing to interior servicing. We ensure the completion of task no matter what to their complete satisfaction.
What was the driving force behind this startup that led you to hark an opportunity in the household domain?
I was raised in Kolkata and was, fortunately, able to experience living in different places such as London and the UAE. While living in Kolkata, household work and services always were somehow got done. However, there was a lot of pursuit behind it, from looking for the right vendors trying and testing them, to my belongings being damaged and things not being their best and finally by the time job finished, it would be tiresome. During my time spent abroad, I learned that household services do not require so much chase and pursuit. Instead, it was as easy as making a one-point contact through a single number and seeing the job well done professionally by the end of it. Founding this company was merely for personal needs. I put a team of professionals together and started using their services for myself first to see if it matched my levels of perfection when people around me started asking for such professional services. I simply put my team out on the doorsteps of people to get the job done. Then only I ventured into the market based on the abilities of a bunch of skilled workers who had to match the high level of perfection when it came to finishing their job.
How challenging was it for you to run your startup after the demise of your husband?
I have always been a believer in- 'life goes on no matter what', and that 'setbacks are temporary'. My parents Mr Bipin Kumar Vohra and Mrs Sanjukta Vohra, a power couple in the business world, who have both struggled in life and started from scratch, and the lessons I inherited from them in business and in life go a long way to shape my personality, raised me. They told me that life goes on even if you come across the biggest debacle and as long as you do your work with honesty, valuing your morals and by respecting people who work for you, no matter how high or low in the strata they are, the road is only gifted and full of promising returns. Even after the passing away of my husband, at the very early stage of the launch of the company, I managed to run the company with quite dedication and devotion. My late husband and I had handpicked our team from the lowest level to top, hence it was like a family that stood by me in the most difficult of situations, yes I did have top executives leave the job overnight due to uncertainties they had in their minds, but my laborers and workers stayed and cooperated without a doubt! I could not give them a raise for 2 years but it did not stop them from doing their work diligently, they continued to work day and night without any complaints. I am ever so grateful to have them as a part of my team. Initially, I found it extremely challenging to run this unit and raise two kids by myself, but I had to set an example for kids, to make them understand that we were not going to let this be a setback for us but, instead take this as an opportunity to become stronger. Nevertheless, I am a strong believer of a family unit, be it inside your business or outside and there was constant support from both ends. The journey of the company has been challenging in terms of business, as this company has so far functioned through references and word of mouth publicity; it wanted its professionalism to speak for it. QuickFix established itself in Kolkata where every household or office space has paid help. The only offset to that is it takes a lot of time and sometimes the damages happen. People were very used to utilizing different vendors for various jobs. I have been fortunate to get the company of the women coming together and running the show, two of them who had also lost their husbands and raising a family, we had something in common and we understood each other's challenges. The company has not lost its sight despite various external economic factors like Demonetization, GST, etc. Moreover, Kolkata has the issue of smaller target market since millennial with spending power usually move out of Kolkata for jobs. In fact, they are the ones who look for an efficient and hassle-free service.
Being a woman entrepreneur, what efforts are you putting forward for bringing gender equality at the workplace?
As of now, many male employees who perform manual labor are assisting me. Being a woman, I am fervent to work for gender equality. To this end, I am working with an aim to bring more women on board who could perform the same manual labor work at par with the male workers. Moreover, I am working to root out the hesitation from the grey cells of female workers, I would like women workers not to limit themselves when it comes to manual work, and I want to be able to encourage them to understand that they have equal strength and can utilize their strengths when it comes to any kind of job. It is my primary goal to make sure that the organization could help achieve that happen.
What has been the specialization of the company?
We offer overall care of home and office from air conditioning maintenance to plumbing services, laundry to pest control, shining and brightening up space, even sometimes sprucing up car interiors. We are developing an application, which is in its beta phase of testing, and the company is looking to create a web-based dashboard for ease of use along with a payment gateway. Currently, we have integrated technology through a dedicated helpline service that answers and understands clients' inquiries. Moreover, the company very well maintains the hygiene services of spaces. We utilize specialized steam cleaners to steam clean and disinfect. We also have our own laundry production unit. Apart from this, the company provides door-to-door laundry services as well. First, we collect garments or household laundry, which is then sent to our processing unit, which is, finally delivered to the customer.
Although the household domain has not much competition, how do you ensure to remain relevant in the coming days?
What makes us apart from other than our services is that we are available at a one-point contact and once on board, our company takes care of the rest. Our company reminds the clients of scheduled and due services. We keep our clients abreast of the required needs and the things to avoid. We offer a holistic service to each unit and since each unit differs, and each relationship customized, therefore, we are working with an aim to provide the services, that I would have myself sought while keeping my obsessive nature in mind, when it comes to perfection. In addition, with QuickFix, the consumers contact within the time for their next scheduled job.
How has the dynamics of hiring in startup companies transformed in India? How tough has it been for you to hire talented employees?
The company fathomed the challenges of hiring because it is difficult to find skilled workers trained with high-end machines etc. Thankfully, its sister organization runs its own training school where it encourages workers to keep their training levels updated and ongoing. Wherever the company is today, it is because of the reason that it lets its work speak for itself. The company has not advertised much but it got referrals from the clients who appreciated their services.
We, in India, have too many creative services at our disposals. We can also try to solve them ourselves but we are either lazy or not skilled for the job. We depend on street vendors to come to solve our daily living issues. Sometimes it works and sometimes it backfires. Our company is taking skill vendors to polish their skills, enhance their knowledge and present them for services after they have been through a strong learning phase. Our target audience is anyone; domestic or commercial, which needs its space serviced and maintained without having to follow through each job.
How do you make sure to prove yourself on the expectations of clients?
Our company is making space with consumer engagement through follow ups & feedback, dedicated relationship manager; connecting with society by educating through demonstrations and trial services. We feel consumers should always try to compare. We offer free demos to show them before and after of certain parts for them to decide whether the service is worth the price and right for their individual need. Moreover, we try to connect with consumers through educative mailers and communicating changing technologies and simple ways to manage their assets and infrastructure so that it saves them money and lasts longer. The company is also engaging with society by generating employment and imparting training from its in-house NSDC certified trainers and consultants, thus allowing rural youth to get skilled and get jobs.
However, client acquisition in terms of corporate is coming onboard. Therefore, we have seen growth in that area apart from growth in special one team services during festive seasons. We are making full use of various online platforms to tap the market.
How do you see your company evolving with times? What are the add-on services you are looking to add to your pool of services?
The company is eyeing to go Pan India and it targets to be a one-stop solution for daily needs/concierge, from booking tickets to doing someone's personal shopping/styling to providing yoga instructors or fitness trainers on the go, or even delivering a calorie counted meal at a doorstep. QucikFix wants to touch all fields; domestic or corporate, wellness and lifestyle, to the daily needs, all of it. The ideas are huge and the intentions are rather large as well but it strives to take one step at a time to be able to provide a broad line of services. The company believes that there should be a one-touch button for almost all our needs for a daily living. Taking the cue from the fact that we are not same, our desires/ wants customize as per our requirement. This is exactly what makes the company unique. The company fathoms that household and personalized services will be a game changer, since time, convenience and efficiency are on everyone's mind and QuickFix is suitably placed and experienced to tap that market. It has a strategy to set up mobile units in growth clusters where the people with these requirements live.
What advice would you like to give to the aspiring entrepreneurs?
Richard Branson says:
Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they do not want to.
My father always taught me that we are fortunate to be in the position of entrepreneurs, but we must remember that we have this privileged position because of the people who slog day and night for minimum wage, so show them respect and be human towards them and treat them like your own, stand by them when in need because in your tough times they will be your rock.
In addition, work, business, and creating empires are all good but our primary focus must be on ourselves, our physical and emotional health. We get so engrossed in making money and name that we forget to take care of ourselves and really live our lives fully and deeply. We end up taking relationships for granted, thinking we will have enough time to spend with family later, but the truth is nothing lasts forever so make that time now, strike a balance and give back to the society and nature. Be and feel whole and complete as a person first and then take on the world!
When life puts you in tough situations do not say, why me? Instead, say try me!