About five years ago the company I helped co-found (Urgent.ly) had designs on delivering on-demand home services to consumers who were fed up with calling a plumber — while standing ankle-deep in water in the basement — only to find they had no idea when the service professional would arrive. Ultimately we turned from the home services space to reinventing roadside assistance, but the experience has left me with a soft spot for the idea of improving the experience of getting things done around the house.
Lots of companies have taken a whack at accomplishing this, of course — from Angie’s List to a raft of startups. ClipCall is one of the latest entrants to get in the game. Launched recently and available around San Francisco, L.A. and N.Y./N.J., the fledgling service relies on customers using the company’s app to record video of a job they need doing and then it gets sent along to nearby experts.
We asked CipCall’s CEO Daniel Shaked about the product and his plans to make it in a crowded space. Shaked will give a presentation as part of the startup showcase at Street Fight Summit West on June 7th in San Francisco.
Where did you get the idea for ClipCall?
ClipCall is an evolution from a more mature company that I founded in 2006 in Israel known as NoProblem. … Backed by VCs and “super angel” investors, NoProblem was a leader in offering hyperlocal SMBs a real-time bidding pay-per-call experience. Our system connected the interested parties with the user, recorded the calls and provided great analytics and ROI dashboards. It was the first time to offer SMBs an ability to pay only for calls, and pay as much as they thought that call worth to them. The Israeli operation of NoProblem was acquired in 2012 by Yellow Pages Israel.
In 2015, we decided to take our product to the next level and evolve it from a lead-gen based business to a mobile-based consumer facing transactional market network that helps people (customers and service professionals) handle their projects through a mobile real-time collaboration and communication app. In fact, ClipCall is a mobile market-network for discovery, real-time collaboration and a full transaction management between service professionals and customers, focused on making the home projects experience great.
ClipCall also provides pros [service providers] a suite of great tools to be much more efficient on the go — such as a real time video chats to replace unneeded travel for quoting as well as the tracking and recording of video, phone calls and texts. It also helps business owners to delegate projects to subcontractors, track employees and teams as well as to reengage with their customers when needed.
We are great believers in empowering the pros to achieve a better quality experience for the users. We also believe that video creates better descriptions, more committed users and streamlines communications.
Did you research whether consumers were willing to create videos of their project needs?
We have launched many trials during the last year and saw a great response rate. We iterated a lot on guiding the sets to create meaningful and structured videos. We believe that a picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is worth a thousand pictures.
Since we are not after a lead fee, we are interested in the quality of a transaction. There is no more committed user than the user that films his project on video. Video also makes it so pros are much more informed about the project which allows them a better way to price and engage.
So the service primarily uses video captured from consumers and then sends that out to available servicers who bid on the work?
We guide users to create videos as we believe that videos are the most intuitive way to describe projects and needs. We guide them with a layer of information during this video shooting process (like teleprompter) with tips and points they should show and speak about. This is aimed to create the best and the most structured video possible that would make the pro informed the best about the needed project. All guidance is category-specific.
This video is then pushed to a network of businesses who have registered in advance. When they watch the video, they can respond to the customer with either a call, chat or real time video.
We understand that matching is just the first phase of a successful transaction. From that point an on we address the “quoting process.” Most users want to have a firm and a guaranteed quote but do not wish to compromise their time waiting for the pro to come, compromise privacy, et cetera. This is where we leverage the real time cross-device video chat over Iphone and Android.
All videos, chats and calls are tracked and recorded. This allows both parties to be aligned with what they agreed upon. Live video also serves as a means for a pro to show progress of the work and get real-time approvals from the user when needed.
Do you consider this an “on-demand” service or are services primarily scheduled?
We invest a lot into building best-in-class software to power that transaction (focus on communications and collaborations). This leads to the opportunity to be an operating system for pros/SMBs in driving them jobs “on demand.” However, owning the transaction allows us to leverage it to many scheduled and prescheduled tasks..
From where do you source your servicers?
We are growing at a fast pace with practically zero manual sales or telesales.
What we learned is that by creating a great product and a true partnership with pros, placing them in the center and gearing them with the right software tools to succeed, leads to a payback in the form of an organic growth in registrations. In terms of the screening, we rely on publicly available sources, and we are also building our own review and screening system.
How many have you got on board?
Since we have started our closed beta on January 16th, we have over 400 businesses registered. We are growing at a pace of 5-10 new businesses a day.
How many jobs have been completed so far?
We are currently at a very initial stage of our activity and around 100 jobs a month. The growth curve is impressive MoM and WoW.
How do you differentiate yourself from Porch and others trying to tackle this space? Is there room for more home services providers?
We respect the competition and any alternative solution out there.
However we are focusing on helping both sides not only to be matched (like most of the players do — profiting from leads, which we believe is not a long term sustainable business) but also to ensure a quality transaction. We aim to generate trust, remove friction and make home projects experience ten times better than what it is today. It is a huge challenge but it is also were the opportunity is.
With that promise we aim to become by far the best way to discover pros and manage the projects.
We are also different from platforms like Handy, Serviz, Amazon Home Services, et cetera. who try to force pros to comply with predefined price lists. We believe that trying to commoditize services is a wrong approach as each project is born different. Making services more of a barcoded product with a price tag forces the pros to cut corners and compromise on quality of work, parts and materials. It creates … poor customer satisfaction.
We believe in educating the pros and providing them with the right tools to be successful and competitive. We are aiming far beyond being a simple transaction marketplace but rather an OS for pros to manage transactions with their users.
Hear more from ClipCall’s Daniel Shaked at our upcoming conference on June 7th in San Francisco. Click on the icon below for tickets!