House providers social suggestion platform, Advocate Group (Advocate) has introduced profitable funding of US$4M (about RM16M).
Led by Morning Crest Capital (MCC), a Shanghai-based enterprise capital agency, it was joined by present buyers, together with Singapore-based Mind-Too-Free Ventures.
Based in 2014 by Jes Min Lua, Alex Tan, and Anthony Eka Wijaya, Advocate is operational in Malaysia beneath the identify Advocate.my, and in Indonesia as Sejasa.com.
It’s basically a social suggestion platform the place customers can search, evaluate, and suggest service professionals for dwelling enchancment, upkeep, cleansing, and extra.
Immediately, it has expanded to supply professionals in 200 classes of providers together with occasions, training, magnificence, and enterprise sectors.
Utilizing AI to make suggestions
House providers is usually a largely unregulated business. For instance, when scouting for an expert to service your aircon, many suppliers would declare to have the most effective charges or best pricing.
Moreover, you wouldn’t really know whether or not their providers are of fine high quality until you’ve skilled it your self or in the event that they’ve been referred to by a good friend. Therefore, these are some ache factors Advocate’s platform is fixing.
For one, after trying to find an aircon service supplier, Advocate’s algorithm will recommend the proper service skilled based mostly on prior opinions and scores, experience, location, and availability.
Prospects can then select to instantly guide the service through name or WhatsApp, or get a number of quotations from a number of service professionals. For the reason that pandemic, Advocate has additionally enabled a function permitting clients to specify if they like fully-vaccinated groups.
To make sure that service suppliers are of fine high quality, Advocate’s crew works with professionals in standardising their providers. This consists of the service’s scope and costs, enabling cashless funds, and offering sturdy service warranties and insurance coverage safety.
That is helpful to clients because it ensures that they gained’t be cheated by false promoting, and in flip, advantages service suppliers too as such assurances construct confidence in every suggestion.
“Therefore, [service professionals] additionally get the next conversion charge the place clients usually tend to guide them for a job, which leads to the next variety of precise jobs for the service skilled,” Jes Min defined to Vulcan Put up.
In the end, the platform works to drive new clients and jobs to those service professionals which will even assist them develop their enterprise, one thing that grew to become extra essential within the pandemic.
Bringing enterprise amidst the pandemic
When the pandemic first began, the Advocate crew, being primarily a platform for service suppliers that are customer-facing, was at a loss.
Unclear lockdown guidelines meant that it will disrupt the roles undertaken by these professionals.
“One of many choices was to simply put the crew on ice, however that would depart our clients and repair professionals hanging,” Jes Min recalled. The crew then determined to remain operational, whereas supporting their service professionals by SOP modifications, roadblocks, and so on.
This determination led to an uptake in constructive buyer opinions and an increase in Advocate’s Internet Promoter Rating (NPS) outcomes, which means that clients had been grateful that the platform was nonetheless operational through the interval.
Jes Min additionally added that many cleaners, electricians, and plumbers who misplaced their jobs through the lockdown additionally turned to search out work on Advocate.
The service professionals additionally grew to become actually loyal to us, as a result of we had been those who had been on the telephone with the federal government officers and police to make clear SOPs and assist to coach them throughout this time. That was a turning level for us, and it has been rising ever since.
Jes Min Lau, CEO and co-founder of Advocate Group
This led to a big hike in Advocate’s demand, with some classes like aircon servicing, disinfection, electrical repairs, and plumbing providers rising by 3 instances.
Alternatively, dwelling enchancment providers like renovations and inside design fluctuated with the lockdowns. Now that lockdowns are lifted, Jes Min reported that this class is now rising by greater than 20% month-on-month.
To maintain up with calls for, the crew is actively on-boarding extra service professionals, whereas coaching them based on Advocate’s requirements and SOPs to maintain clients protected.
Changing into an all-in-one platform
To this point, Advocate has reported having served over 1 million houses in Malaysia and Indonesia. “This helps our algorithm get smarter at making the proper match,” mentioned Alex. The platform can be behind the house service choices on the Increase e-wallet app, shopper manufacturers like IKEA, and neighborhood apps like Mah Sing M Concierge.
With its Collection A complete of US$4 million, Advocate plans to make use of the funds to increase its groups in Indonesia and Malaysia, with a give attention to product and engineering. It’ll additionally enhance the person expertise on its buyer and vendor cellular apps in addition to its web site.
Advocate can be planning to construct new options that empower service employees to handle and develop their companies. Already outfitted with a scheduling platform, Jes Min shared that the crew needs to have an all-in-one system the place professionals can handle advertising and marketing, gross sales, cost assortment, and crew administration.
As for enlargement plans, Advocate will probably be increasing to 2-3 cities in each Indonesia and Malaysia.
Regionally, the crew will give attention to strengthening its presence in Penang and Johor by first onboarding some prime service professionals in these cities. After that, they may look into penetrating different cities in West and East Malaysia.
As soon as Advocate has expanded its attain in Malaysia and Indonesia, Jes Min is definite that they may discover the remainder of SEA as effectively.
- You may be taught extra about Advocate.my right here.
- You may learn extra articles on funding that we’ve lined right here.
Featured Picture Credit score: The crew at Advocate Group