Business

Small Business: Why an Ola exec left ridesharing giant to start his own firm – Nexdo

Sakshin Niranjan, founder of app-based service firm Nexdo, talks inspiration for setting up the business and how a move to New Zealand made him realise his commerce dreams.

What does your business do?

Nexdo is a home-based service application which arose because we couldn’t find any fixed-price marketplace in New Zealand. I came into the country to launch ridesharing company Ola, this is when I was looking for marketplaces where I could get any sort of cleaning services, electricians or plumbers, but what I found was there was no marketplace that offered a fixed price and that you could book for their services on an app.

I launched the business in November last year but I had been working on it since June.

What was the motivation for starting it?

I used to work with Ola in India and that’s when I moved from India to New Zealand about two years back when Ola first launched. I was heading their strategy division and also launching new marketplaces. I did my MBA and I was looking for a new opportunities and I found that the country would require something like this and that’s when I decided to start.

I built everything from scratch, and also have a development team that is based out of India and a marketing and operations team based in New Zealand.

How big is your team?

We are a total team size of four, our two developers are in India. In the next six to 12 months we’re looking to increase our team to 14 members.

How did you fund starting the business?

The initial six-figure pre-seed funding raise was through two private investors from the United Kingdom and United States, but we are going to raise more capital – ideally over $1 million – through a second round later this year. We’re looking to expand our marketing spend and also developing the tech and adding new features to the app.

How has the app been received following launch?

When we started out in November people did have some difficulties in getting used to the fixed price model as they were so used to getting individualised quotes for services. It took some time, but in January we got a lot of phone calls that came in with people understanding the model. Today, the business has started moving by itself and the response and uptake in service usage is quite good now. As of now we have crossed the 15,000 active users mark and home cleaning is proving to be the most popular service right now.

We also offer beauty services on the app, as well as lawn mowing and other services in and around the house. The reason why we launched home cleaning was because it was understood in the home services space, whereas with beauty we wanted to launch that because we wanted to introduce something new; manicures and pedicures. We have 50 professionals working with us on the platform; they are contractors that own small firms.

Just after Covid when we approached these small businesses we found that a lot of them didn’t have the business they had the previous year so this gave us the opportunity to go after companies that already offered these services to work on our platform in their free time. We noticed that a few contractors were earning between minimum wage to $20, but on this Nexdo allows them to earn a higher hourly wage.

What are your long term plans for Nexdo?

We’re looking to get into different categories on the platform, including listing electricians, plumbers, and we want to start launching in every single city and smaller towns in New Zealand within the next three to five years. We’re currently only operating in Auckland right now. I hope that Nexdo is able to contribute to the economy of New Zealand in the future.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome running this type of business?

The biggest challenge which we have overcome was trying to get people to understand the fixed price model and not to call us and ask us to visit their property for a quote.

What advice do you give to others thinking about starting their own business?

Hold on and keep going – it takes time but there will be a time where things fall into place.

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