How BookMyBai scaled to a $30million dollar business in 3 years by bootstrapping and investing $30000

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

(4 out of 5 based on 2 Ratings)

It all started in March 2015. My name is Anupam Sinhal – Co-founder of Bookmybai.com

 

My startup Homado.com had just been acquired by one of the leading e-commerce portals in India. I was still scratching my head about the next steps when I went back to the drawing board and started to think of a new business idea. At the same time, my inner-self was hitting me hard to use my knowledge and education to bring a change to the life of the underprivileged families across India. Coincidently my domestic help quit the same day and I started looking for one through these mom-and-pop maid agencies across Mumbai when I realized how unorganized this market is and how these agencies take these domestic workers and employers for a ride.

 

 

That was when me and Vikash got our thoughts together and promised to change this sector for good. We launched Bookmybai in May 2015 with $20000 in our bank account. Fortunately most of my loyal team-members from my previous startups still stuck with me since they shared the same vision of building a large business and creating a social impact at the same time

 

 

We launched in a suburb of Mumbai and slowly expanded to entire Mumbai and further scaled to Navi Mumbai and Thane. We received phenomenal response. We were flooded with requirements and domestic workers were pleasantly surprised to find some professionalism and some sense of security in the jobs that we provide. By November 2015, we quickly realized the scale is massive and we will need more resources and money to scale this company. Then started the process of pitching the ideas to investors. For some reason, this concept was very naïve and not many investors understood the potential of this business. Over 3 million domestic workers are currently working in India. After about 20 rejections from investors, Sanjay Enishetty and Vineel Nalla from 50K Ventures quickly understood the potential of this business and chose to invest in our company without any hiccups. A note of thanks to the other co-investors who participated in the round.

 

 

Post the investment, we scaled the company to Bangalore, Pune, Ahmedabad and we recently launched Kolkata as a pilot. We also went global. We now have our domestic workers working in Dubai, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, London, China and Australia

 

 

Lessons learnt while building Bookmybai

 

  1. Internal loyalty is superficial:  Most of the employees that you would think are as loyal to you as they could be will be first ones to back stab you.
     
  2. Money is not everything: While launching Bookmybai, I was personally in a bad financial situation with my entire financial backing stuck into a real estate project that I had invested in. Still I went ahead and built this from scratch
     
  3. Risk pays off: Nothing risked – Nothing gained. This was a tricky never-tried-before business. I invested everything I had into it and built this.
     
  4. Rewards always work: Our domestic workers are the pillars of this organization. We have always tried to go out of our way to help them in every possible way. Today the situation is that the loyalty is so concrete that they will prefer to be jobless for a few days rather than approaching any other mom-and-pop agency for work
     
  5. Perseverance is everything: Ups and downs are a part of every business. Every month Bookmybai has been rocked with something or the other. Almost every close friend of mine has asked me the reason to continue doing this. I have to admit that even I have had thoughts to shut this down during my low days and continue my family business which generates millions of dollars in profits every year. However dedication from the team and perseverance of the partners and investors always pushed me ahead to overcome the problem and move on
     
  6. You cannot do everything yourself: We realized that we cannot solve everything. We partnered with a lot of government bodies, NGOs, reputed maid bureaus etc. These partnerships helped us improve our performance and speed of execution
     
  7. Don’t run behind the money:  We are a profitable startup – something unheard of in the startup ecosystem. We do not chase investors to invest money in us. Anybody who sees value in the business and what kind of scale it can achieve in 5 years approach us directly and the smart ones invest.

    Today we have provided jobs to over 10000 domestic workers who at an average salary of Rs. 15000 per month, earn over $30 million dollars every year. We have not changed only their lives. We have changed the life of the entire family.

 



What gets me my confidence and satisfaction?

 

We ran two parallel surveys. One with the domestic workers who got a job through us and other with the employers who got a domestic worker through us

 

  1. 28% domestic workers had husband who had taken huge loans against farm land. Most of them paid their loan back after we got them a job. We created a direct impact to their daily lives
     
  2. 17% domestic workers had a minor daughter or son who was working as a domestic worker or as a ‘chotu’ in some chai walla stall. Now the mothers are sending them to school. A direct reduction in child labour
     
  3. 35% of the domestic workers were girls in the age of 18 to 25 who did not have enough money for higher education. In my own home I had a domestic worker who worked for a year and then left for higher studies because now she could afford it. Direct impact to their future
     
  4. 8% domestic workers were saving money for their daughters marriage so that the father need not sell his farm land during the marriage. Direct impact to their way of life
     
  5. 4% domestic workers wanted to separate from their alcoholic and abusive husbands but didn’t have anywhere to go. We provided them with a house to stay and fixed monthly income

 

We ran a feedback experiment from our employers over Whatsapp. 98% of them said that they were very happy with our service. Few snapshots attached here:

      

 

 

The two surveys above told me that what we are trying to build can be a huge business and at the same time create a very very large difference in a underpriviledged persons life. Karma!

 

 

We are just scratching the surface. Bookmybai will soon scale to 3 more cities and plan to help another 25000 domestic workers and families this financial year to create a Gross Salary Value of $100 million. Strong backing of investors and my team has led me to the belief that this is possible sooner than later

 

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