Conceptualizing Near.in

It was early July 2014, me, Lomesh and Akshay – 3 friends sitting in a local gurgaon college canteen debating around our own lives and India at large.

All of us in the past decade had spent a considerable time both in India and US. And life has always been on a smooth and easy ride in US. In all our discussions, it was always a center point – life is “harder” is India, there’s “no quality”, “no trust” and it’s getting more “expensive” to live day by day.

Having good degrees, we could not even help our wives – find a reliable and trusted person to get household work done?

We said why not fix this problem once and for all.

The first obvious stuff as an entrepreneur you face is “Validate the market?” Are we the only ones thinking about it!

We met people from all walks of life – successful Entrepreneurs, our friends in VC firms, Merchants, Users at large. Everyone painted the picture in their own canvas.

Some did not see any problem. They were extremely happy the way the local yellow pages are solving the problem and lot better that even google could not match it. You want an APC UPS, ask for quote – you get 5 quotes and get one delivered at your home.

– VCs saw the problem but they were caught in horizontal vs vertical debate. Verticals seemed to be more fundable.

– Users if they needed a phone number or a product were very happy to use online yellow pages. But when we asked them how to find a dietician, yoga teacher, gym, physiotherapist – they had no clues. If they search for it they get 100 results, but didn’t know what to do with that list?

Our wives still had problem being able to get a carpenter or a good doctor and were always on social media asking their friends or peers if they knew anyone.

And like them there were tens of these questions being asked on a daily basis on online forums.

Digging deeper in today’s merchant centric world – completely changed our perception of how this industry is operating.

Merchants are paying in lakhs to rank higher in search results. In fact the entire concept of search results in some leading online yellow pages companies is Pay More, Rank Higher. In some categories tens of pages are filled with paid results. And you wonder if I am looking for a daycare for my kid will I even have a criteria who is paying more to the online service providers. There goes your relevancy and trust.

Location has no significance – you look for a merchant in Gurgaon, you might get one in Delhi (simply because they pay more)

– There were pseudo merchants who take leads and sell it to other merchants.

– The long tail of good merchants got a free listing but did not rank anywhere and did not get any business. Apart from updating their facebook pages, they did not know what to do.

With due respect to the online yellow pages companies, they work fine when we are looking for a phone number of a particular shop, nothing beats it. But, if I am looking for any service like say a birthday cake designer, a home caterer, a makeup artist, driver or physiotherapist,  the entire model is done opposite of what should have been to offer a great service to an end user.

As we digged more deeper and deeper, it became very clear that one has to think of this problem from the point of view of a user. There is a problem at both ends:

Good service providers who provide great and awesome service have a very hard way of getting themselves discovered.

Users who are badly craving for such providers have a hard timing finding them.

What better could be, if we can build a company that can do this handshake?

Need designer cakes – done by cake artists ?

Want to get a portrait made for your 1 year old son?

Need cooks at home for a party ?

Need Drivers in Gurgaon , Astrologers in Gurgaon

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