Bangalore-based Jeeves Consumer Services, a third-party maintenance and repair services provider for electronics and appliances, has raised an undisclosed amount in Series A funding from Seedfund, a Mumbai-based seed-to-early stage investor. The investment comes ahead of the launch of Jeeves’ direct-to-consumer home care services, dubbed Jeeves Home Care, which will enable individual households to avail of an annual maintenance contract (AMC) for repairs and servicing of out-of-warranty appliances and electronics.
The company will formally launch its direct-to-consumer services on August 1 and is currently running pilot services in Bangalore. “We started the pilot about three months ago and have touched 500-odd households so far,” Alok Sen, co-founder of Jeeves Consumer Services, told StartupCentral over a telephonic conversation today. Sen, who has spent 17 years in the consumer durables industry with companies such as BPL and US-based Digital Video Systems, co-founded the company with colleague RN Balasubramanya in August 2007.
The capital raised from Seedfund will be used primarily to strengthen the company’s information technology backbone to support the direct-to-consumer foray. Consumers who sign up for Jeeves’ AMC will be able to avail of services across 225 cities. The AMC would also be transferable across cities and all services and repairs would be accompanied by a 90-day warranty. The AMC packages will soon be listed on the company’s website, but a typical contract would cost about Rs 3,000 and would cover 5-6 appliances. The market for out-of-warranty household electronics maintenance services, by Sen’s estimates, would be about Rs 2,500 crore. This is currently largely catered to by the unorganized sector.
The move into direct-to-consumer services was not something that Sen and Balasubramanya had written into their business plan when they started the company. Bootstrapped by the two founders, Jeeves started up with the premise of creating an all-India out-of-warranty services network for consumer durable brands and retail chains. It currently works with 30 such companies including Future Group, Croma Retail, Toshiba, Panasonic, Electrolux and TPG Wholesale and runs 17 service centers, which will grow to 49 by the end of the year.
The trigger to address the consumer directly came about six months ago when the company conducted a series of free service camps in residential complexes in Bangalore. Following consumer feedback, the founders realized that there was a pain point that needed to be addressed and they started putting together the blueprint for Jeeves Home Care. The direct-to-consumer business, Sen says, will constitute 32-35 per cent of the company’s revenues in three years, by which time it expects to have a presence in 360 cities. Details on the company’s revenues at present were not available.
The Seedfund investment is expected to keep the company capitalized for about three years. The Mumbai-based venture capital firm has been investing from a $54 million fund, its second, raised last year. Earlier investments from this fund include Mumbai-based analytics firm Heckyl Technologies, Delhi-based ecommerce startup Donebynone (earlier known as HandsPick), and Bangalore-based mobile search engine developer Innoz Technologies.
Image Courtesy: Jeeves Consumer Services