At Your Service: Abhiraj Singh Bhal on Entering the Consumer Product Market "For any company to be successful, there are two critical ingredients – being customer first in its thinking and execution and leveraging technology to launch winning products," shares Abhiraj Singh Bhal, Co-Founder and CEO, Urban Company
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Indian Unicorn Urban Company, Asia's leading home services platform recently entered the consumer product market owing to the understanding they built while providing services at home via 50,000+ professionals. Will the transition help the tech startup? Entrepreneur India explores.
What kind of mindset change was required to become a product-led company from a services-oriented company?
As a home services player, we have deep insights into the needs and pain points of the Indian household. While many of these needs can be fulfilled through pure play services, we have realized that at times, we may need to go beyond services to offer products or solutions which fully address the consumer need. Our foray into water purifiers as a segment is one such effort. It brings together our customer-first mindset, and our commitment towards building innovative solutions and leverages the strong backend capability of our service fleet.
For any company to be successful, there are two critical ingredients – being customer first in its thinking and execution and leveraging technology to launch winning products
Why did you choose water purifiers as your first product out of all the home service categories you operate in?
One of the important home services we offer on our app is water purifier servicing and repair. Over the past few years, we have repaired and serviced over a million water purifiers. One pain point we constantly hear from customers is why water purifiers need filter changes and servicing every few months. We decided to address this problem head-on with our new range of Native water purifiers. The Native water purifiers perform flawlessly for 2 years without needing any service, giving customers safe and clean drinking water. Thereafter, they only need servicing once in 2 years. We are backing our claim with a comprehensive zero-cost warranty for 2 years which includes all filters, membranes, and spare parts. The purifiers are designed with a lot of thought, and the M2 device is fully integrated into the UC app, giving customers a real-time picture of water quality, consumption, and filter life.
Do you plan to launch more products in the coming time?
We feel we have a winning product with the Native smart water purifiers and have put our best foot forward. We are also experimenting with smart door locks, but the effort is still early in its evolution.
How are you managing the manufacturing of the products? Have you partnered with any company?
The Native water purifiers are fully made in India, in Gujarat and Pune. We have deeply partnered with a leading original equipment manufacturer by the name of Ronch and worked extensively with them to invest in our own line of manufacturing, moulds and machinery, etc.
How many product iterations happened for the RO water purifier to get its final shape?
We have been working on this product for about 2.5 years now. There have been multiple iterations based on consumer feedback and what you see now is the best device out there that addresses customer pain points.
Why did you select the name NATIVE?
We all thrive in our native environments. Urban Company is first and foremost a customer-focused company. We set our journey to make lives easier for our customers in their homes. We design our at-home services keeping that in mind. Similarly, when we started working on products, we set a vision to create something that feels native to where it belongs, the home. Water purifiers belong in the kitchens of our home product customers - their native environment. Hence Native.
Did your learning while building a services company come to be of help while building the product company?
We have repaired and serviced over a million water purifiers, and we realized that a major pain point for customers has been the frequent need for servicing. To address this issue, we took a reverse approach and designed a product that operates without requiring any service for a duration of two years. Moreover, with each servicing, the warranty period is extended by an additional two years. Our commitment is to resolve any and all problems that consumers face in their daily lives.
Many service companies have experimented with product segments but didn't succeed much. What are your plans to make the shift sustainable?
For any company to be successful, there are two critical ingredients – being customer first in its thinking and execution and leveraging technology to launch winning products. In our case, we believe that through the Native RO water purifier, we have been able to address the customer pain point of regular servicing and opacity, and we have leveraged our technological strengths in doing so.