Four-year-old home services start-up UrbanClap is venturing into Dubai. It will be launching operations in the UAE’s most populous city this month.

The mobile marketplace for local services, which is present in all the major metros in India, has chosen to expand to Dubai before looking at tier-2 cities in India.

“We don’t see it as an international expansion but a strategic entry into a global city that is close to India,” says Abhiraj Bhal, co-founder, UrbanClap, revealing that the team is already in place and technology work has been going on for the last four months.

UrbanClap will launch operations in Dubai with about a hundred service professionals on its platform, and, to begin with, will offer five services: laundry, home cleaning, handymen, packers and movers, and home painting.

Bhal says that with nine million people, 80 cent of whom are expatriates, Dubai is a lucrative dollar market where service prices are three- four times that of India’s even as costs are more or less the same. Also, there is a large pool of service professionals available who are not yet online, so there is an opportunity for a platform such as UrbanClap.

The start-up has so far received a total of $60 million (roughly ₹400 crore) in funding, and offers 30-40 services across Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Kolkata. It has nearly 1 lakh service professionals registered on its platform.

After Dubai, it will look at expanding into Jaipur and Chandigarh, but Bhal rules out any plans to get into tier 2 cities immediately. “We have debated often about expanding into tier-2 cities but feel the markets are not ready.”

UrbanClap’s Series C funding last year was led by Dubai-based Vy Investor. Did this influence its decision to enter the city? Bhal says no. “We had plans to get into Dubai even before the investor came on board.” At first UrbanClap tried to enter inorganically by buying a company. “One of the talks went some distance as well, but then we felt it was more sensible to enter organically,” he says.

Cities and services

According to Bhal, each city in India has proved to be unique in terms of its demand for services and the quality. For instance, beauty care at home is popular in Kolkata but does not in Chennai. “Perhaps it is to do with the penetration of salons,” says Bhal.

AC maintenance and repairs are in high demand in Delhi and Hyderabad but not in Bengaluru or Pune.

As for Dubai, the expectation is that packers and movers and home painting services will gain great traction given the constant expat movement.