Broadcast: One Call India is a one-of-a-kind service that offers end-to-end solutions for all appliance related needs that a customer has, at every stage of his/her dealing with appliances.
Tête-à-tête with Prerna Bhutani, CEO of One Call India
Idea and vision
The idea is to provide convenience to the customers at every stage of dealing with appliances, so that they no longer have to go through the hassle of taking care of mundane issues – more so in today’s fast paced life, when people find it difficult to make time for relaxation & spending time doing things that they love. It could:
- Be it making a buying decision – issues like which model to buy, where to buy from, how much will it cost, getting special discounts etc
- Or servicing & maintaining it – problems like whom to call in case of a break-down, coordinating with the service engineer for a suitable time of visit, ordering spares, getting it cleaned etc
- Or taking it to the service center – wading through the city traffic to take an appliance like the mobile phone or an IPod for service
- Or keeping track of warranties & AMCs
- Or even selling a used/old appliances
One Call’s vision is to be a name to reckon with in the appliances space – a service that people think of every time they think of appliances.
What is your start-up story? Where did you get funding from?
One Call was visualized by me & K C Anand, during one of the several coffee-shop conversations that we used to have. Anand has been a family friend of my husband since many years now. He is a first generation entrepreneur & runs 4 companies currently.
We (me in Mumbai, and Anand in Chennai) had been struggling with poor service from brand authorized service centers for a long time – it had become a pain to deal with an appliance that had developed problems. Right from logging a complaint on the toll free number to the time that an engineer came for repair, the whole process was torturous! The service engineers never turned up on time which affected our schedule many times, asked for all sorts of documents as proof of purchase & god forbid if they took a part with them for replacement or repair, we were sure it would take a long time for it to come back to us.
The final nail in the coffin was when Anand bought a home security system & called up the manufacturer for a technical issue within a week of its installation. It was a sophisticated system and could only be handled by an expert. He kept waiting for the engineers, who finally visited after 3 months! They said they needed to check a component & took it with them. The component did not get returned to him for a long time after that!
That is when Anand called me & we decided to launch One Call. We had been toying with this idea for some time & wanted to create a service which will never let the customer go through what we had been experiencing in our respective cities. Thus was born the concept of One Call. I then decided to quit my job that I was doing in Mumbai & shifted to Chennai to take up this challenge full-time. Anand has been funding the venture, while I have been running it.
What is your target market? What is your revenue earning plan or model? What’s cooking for enhancing user engagement?
Our target customers are people who don’t have time to handle things on their own. In today’s busy life, be it working couples, new mothers or even bachelors – everyone finds it difficult to squeeze multiple activities in the day, without additional help. One Call is that help when it comes to appliances. Most of our target customers are based in the metros, so that is where we aim to be. We are already present in 3 cities – Chennai, Bangalore & Gurgaon.
We have two modes of earning revenues from customers – annual subscriptions & pay-per-use option.
Team is the bloodline of a startup. What’s your take?
In a business like One Call, people are the most important part. Without a good team in place, it is difficult to help customers with their problems. Therefore, at One Call, we invest very carefully in our people – we train them & groom them for their roles so that they are able to understand customer requirements & provide the right solutions.
Each employee at One Call is aligned to one mission that we collectively live by – provide great customer satisfaction. We all are like one big family – dedicated to helping our customers.
Any ideas you want to share from your startup briefcase?
The most important lesson that I’ve learnt is that executing a plan is far more difficult than creating one on paper! It is easier to create a vision, but to execute that every single day is quite a challenge.
It wasn’t a press release, but we got featured in The Indian Express Chennai in September 2011.
How do you think One Call India is adding value to the startup eco-system?
One Call is a unique concept that is trying to bridge the gap that exists between the customers & the appliance manufacturers. Customers buy various appliances from different manufacturers, but do not get adequate support from any of them – be it while making a buying decision, or managing their appliance data or helping them solve a problem with the appliance or disposing off the appliance when it has lived its life.
One Call is trying to bridge that gap by being a single-point-of-contact for customers – a friend that they can rely on when they do not get support from the manufacturer that they bought the appliance from.
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