A strange request to accompany a middle-aged lady for shopping in Delhi was how it all started for concierge service provider DoneThing. That initial task, accomplished with great dexterity by one of the co-founders of the start-up, helped lay the foundation for the platform that aids users in need of different services.
Karan Saharan, co-founder and Director, DoneThing, says the aim of the start-up is to provide on-demand personal assistance (PA). “Our service does generate some hilarious requests, from walking the dog to delivering condoms at midnight. But at the end of the day, it has translated to carrying out and fulfilling many chores, and therein lies the opportunity,” he said.
Made for people who are hard-pressed for time, and for those who are “used to paying bills after the due date”, DoneThing has already acquired a customer base of over 40,000. It was founded in 2015 by Saharan, Chetan Agarwal, Sonal Saraogi, and Rohit Pansari. The four co-founders, all between 27-28 years of age, pitched in a total of ₹50 lakh .
The idea to have a personal assistant at one’s beck and call struck when co-founders Chetan and Karan tried to order two different snacks one evening. “Chetan and I were hanging out at Rohit’s house in South Delhi. We wanted to nibble on something, but one of us wanted vegetarian food. It was then we realised the hassle of placing an order on two different platforms, and making two different payments,” said Karan, who had been a CA with EY for five years prior to founding the start-up.
The one-stop solution aims to cater to daily needs, and has eliminated the need to visit multiple portals and applications to book different services. DoneThing aims to eradicate the struggle of figuring out transport, figuring out what to eat, and figuring out which movie to watch, as well as how to book a flight ticket.
The spur-of-the-moment decision to blend innovation and technology so as to get things done pronto was made in early 2015. By June 2015, the start-up was launched in Delhi-NCR. “Initially, we started out by servicing friend and family requests since it was only available through WhatsApp; and then in September 2015, we had a full fledged launch,” Karan said.
DoneThing is set to open shop in Bengaluru and Mumbai, though Mumbai “is not the priority right now. We have noticed Bengaluru matches the Delhi demographic, and it would be easier to provide the service there.”
The start-up raised $250,000 from Hong Kong-based angel funduing company Swastika Limited this March. It currently employs 120 people and plan to hire another 1,500 across various profiles by March 2017. Their merchant-base, meanwhile, is close to 3,300 and growing.
“Over the past few months, we have on-boarded several members and vendors who conduct due diligence for manpower supply. We got runners on our payroll, and as users of the service ourself, we tend to conduct quality checks on a daily basis,” added Karan.
So whether it is picking up produce from the local market, or depositing cheques, or booking film tickets, or facilitating home and car repairs, the platform aids users and even helps out with electricians and doctors. Several product vendors have been aggregated as part of their growing network, said Karan, adding that the pick-up-and-drop feature — one of its core services — has also seen its fair share of fine-tuning.PA for all
“We want every middle-class person to feel that he can have a PA, a personal shopper or an errand boy who will undertake day-to-day tasks; just like a PA of a rich person. The aim is to get things done,” he said. As for most frequent requests, Karan laughs. “We get lot of requests for post-midnight delivery of alcohol, especially in the NCR.”
Reminiscing about the initial days, he adds: “A lady called us up and said she needed someone to go shopping with her. Though the request stumped us at first, co-founder Sonal accompanied the lady. After all, we had to get the task done.”