India's services sector has a large number of small businesses and nano ones, which struggle to find work. Until some years ago, consumers also found it difficult to discover them. The rise of digital marketplaces - those that connect businesses or workers with customers through an app or website -- have sorted this challenge in some ways. One company that helps in this matchmaking is Sulekha.com. Its technology platform, nevertheless, is a tad different from the likes of UrbanClap. Satya Prabhakar, CEO and Founder of Sulekha, explained to Business Today that the platform is much larger, both in terms of companies who are part of it as well as the value of work transacted. Excerpts:
- Sulekha does not assign a professional to do the job, like other services platforms. The company takes a consumer's service request and matches the need with multiple service providers. Next, service providers compete for the business - the consumer is given a choice of three service providers and she or he picks one of them. "We have an intelligent algorithm that uses publicly available signals and the performance of the small businesses on the platform, to rate and rank the workers. The rating continuously changes based on the performance on the platform. Customers rate the workers too," Prabhakar said. Gamified rankings form a key feature of how digital marketplaces work. Those businesses or workers with higher ratings tend to get the more lucrative contracts.
- The Sulekha platform is emerging as a good place for gig workers. Nevertheless, most of those listed are currently what the CEO said are 'Nano, micro, and small' enterprises. The company stated that it lists nearly three million service providers on its platform. Of these, it has verified and profiled about 200,000. Sulekha estimates that it helps about 0.6-0.8 million job completions each month.
- There are roughly 1,200 categories on the Sulekha platform. Top services include Home Services (home improvement etc), Education (coaching and training services among others) and Lifestyle (events and entertainment, for instance). The value of the work varies depending on the nature of work -- "from Rs 750 to fix issues in a two-door refrigerator to Rs 24,000 for a short big-data course conducted in person to Rs Three lakh to fix a two-bedroom interior for a new home". Sulekha estimates that Fiscal Year 2019 saw $500 million of transactions across its top 200 categories. Of this, five per cent was paid on average by the service providers to the company in the form of lead-fee and platform-maintenance-fee among others.