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Now finding skilled professionals becomes easy with UrbanPro UrbanPro strives to be the go-to marketplace for users to connect with right professionals.

By Samiksha Jain

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UrbanPro.com

Do you face a lot of difficulty in finding a suitable tutor for your child or a trainer for you to learn a new programming language? If yes, then now you need not to worry. With the help of UrbanPro, you can hire the best professionals for yourself. Whether it is an experienced tutor to teach guitar, a skilled photographer to capture your "Kodak' moments or someone who can help you host your child's first birthday perfectly, you can locate all of them under one digital roof.

UrbanPro, formerly known as ThinkVidya, is an online marketplace for hiring service professionals. By using this platform, users can find skilled service professionals that meet their requirements within their budget and locality. Service professionals, on the other hand, can get hired for the services they provide at the price that works for them and grow their earnings.

Founded by Rakesh Kalra in 2011, the startup claims to receive 1.1 million unique visitors every month on their platform. Further, it claims that 50 per cent of this usage happens via mobile web. With the mission to help its users to hire smartly, UrbanPro has built a strong network of over 3 lakh professionals across India, of which 180,000 are tuition teachers, 40,000 language professionals and around 12,000 professionals in music and dance. Also, there are over 40,000 institutes listed on their site. Moreover, they have strong presence in hundreds of categories in more than 10 cities across India.

Currently, the startup is building a strong marketplace across categories like- academics (Tuition, Exam Prep), professional training (IT Courses, Corporate training), languages (English, French, German and other foreign languages), hobby classes (Dance, Music, Art and more), health and fitness (Yoga, Personal Trainer, Gyms), and event services (Wedding Planners, Photographers etc.)

With presence in top cities across India, UrbanPro strives to be the go-to marketplace for users to connect with right professionals. In tete–a-tete with Entrepreneur India, Kalra, who has over 14 years of experience in working with different Internet startups in the US, shares his entrepreneurial journey with us.

What made you conceptualise UbanPro?

When I moved with my family from Boston to Bangalore, I realised how difficult it was to find good tutors and other learning options for my son. The existing solutions don't work as everything from budget to convenience has to be factored in. The idea behind UrbanPro was to create a marketplace through which subscribers can easily find and connect with service professionals.

We began UrbanPro in 2011, with categories across the education sector. We very quickly built traction within a year and then significantly scaled the business year-on-year, first with self funding, and then by Angel investment.

After establishing market leadership in the Education and Learning Categories, we raised our first Institutional round in March. In April, we rebranded to UrbanPro with categories in fitness, health, event services, hobby classes and more. Today, we help consumers make the right hiring decision by quickly connecting them with matching service professionals in their locality or online, across a range of categories.

What challenges did you face, in terms of taking your product to the market, convincing people to use your platform? How did you overcome these challenges?

We had recognised a need gap in the highly fragmented education market in India and decided to tap it when we started out as ThinkVidya. The challenges were more about building the product than taking it to the market. A good product will always have takers, we concentrated our efforts on building a problem solving portal that changed the way people hire. It is hard to build a two sided marketplace, and for me, my prior experience of building a similar marketplace in the US (care.com) helped tremendously in getting the platform to scale the way it has achieved now.

What's the revenue and business model of UrbanPro?

Consumers can post their requirements on UrbanPro in less than a minute and connect with professionals across categories to meet their specific requirements, whereas professionals can showcase their skills by creating their profile and get hired. We don't charge commission on a professional getting hired. Instead, we charge as per-lead pricing via an innovative UrbanPro coins system. Professionals buy a pack of coins (or they can earn them by referring friends to UrbanPro), and then these coins are used to respond to a large number of leads that UrbanPro generates.

What's the kind of traction you are attracting at present?

We have built a strong network of over 3 lakh professionals across India, where we generate a new lead every minute and a professional is hired via the platform every 6 minutes. On top of this, we have built a business with strong unit level economics, which is hard to find these days.

What's your future growth and expansion plans?

Our current focus is to grow the current set of categories and the cities that we are operating in. There is enough room for growth in these segments. The new categories are being launched in major cities at this point and we will expand these to more cities sometime during the next year.

Samiksha Jain

Feature Writer, Entrepreneur.com

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