“They always told me I couldn’t do anything in life. And they were right. I couldn’t, not in what they thought life meant”
This is what Sushant replied when I asked him what his early days were like before he started Aarigo, a Mumbai based, hyperlocal services startup. Aarigo deals with services like plumbing, housekeeping, pest control and, similar tasks.
Sushant, as he tells me, was a dumb kid in school. Almost never scored and continually felt let down but the people around him. Now this might sound a little insensitive in general but truth be told, this is how most low scoring students are treated in our society.
“I come from a family of people who have dedicated their entire lives working for one company or on one job. And that was what I was told all along. My heart, however, was never in it. I always wanted to do a business. I am not sure how that sentiment was born but that was one thing I was always sure about”
Sushant grew up in Mumbai, graduated and went on to do his MBA from the UK after which he acquired a job working for a hospitality company there. He planned on starting up in the UK itself but then a thought struck him, “It’s better to start in India and do something for the people of my own country than be here and do something”. Sushant moved back to India and started working for a tourism corporation while simultaneously trying to understand how the Indian market works and how he could transform the service industry here.
This is when he is reminded of his early rendezvous with the service industry in the UK. They have their fair share of hyperlocal service start-ups but they’re all based on the same principle that recent Indian service start-ups aim towards. A listings based service acquiring experience.
This is a model where you have a form when you land on the site, you fill it with your queries and then interested vendors for the services that you want, get in touch with you. Just like JustDial or LocalOye work. Sushant found a problem with this model and the problem is pretty simple if you think of it.
“The experience is really bad. Because you get to choose very little. It’s like pressing the I am feeling lucky button after typing a google search. We both know it’s hardly going to be productive and the worst thing is that we aren’t in control”
People from the service industry he met initially somehow felt that providing a buying experience for the service industry wasn’t really a practical thing to do. Logistics, control over the experience and an inability to monitor the last mile were some of the reasons many quoted to him. But he wasn’t convinced. And this led to the birth of Aarigo.
“It’s a 35 billion dollar industry and is probably the most unorganised when it comes the business aspect of it. The problem being that most people fail in understanding how consumers acquire these services”.
Sushant continues to help me understand the market Aarigo is serving to and how it is different from other startups like TaskBob and Urban Clap.
When we buy things off of Amazon or Flipkart, we go through a buying experience. The ease of use of the website, ease of payment, fast delivery and quick returns and refunds in case we didn’t like what we got. This contributes highly towards our decision of what website we choose the next time we want to buy something. And this is the same experience they are trying to replicate.
Sushant is an interesting person. I would call him a self made entrepreneur. Well, mostly all entrepreneurs are self made but he was someone who thought business when everyone around him had their work lives wrapped in 9 to 5. Against all odds, the most important thing to know about Sushant is that he never lost confidence in himself.
He is making things grow, and he is making them grow fast. With over 4000 service providers on his platform, Aarigo has already launched in Delhi while you read this and is planning a widespread expansion cross a lot of tier 1 and tier 2 cities.
Our conversation spread over more than 90 mins and there was way too much that we talked about. A lot of which I cannot explicitly mention here but there is one thing I am sure about. Sushant sure looks at the industry with a perspective very different from that of a lot of people.
It’s easy to tell people they’re doing good, infact we should, as often as we can. It’s easy to correct a mistake in retrospect. But being told all your life that there is just one thing you’re supposed to do and you’re really not good at it, and to get out of it and strive for something better, now that is a story worth following. A story that begins now.