Loreta Hipolito, a digital media expert from Pasig City, believes that information technology can generate more income for small entrepreneurs, including house cleaners and air-conditioning unit technicians.
She says that in the same way that taxi drivers can fetch passengers via mobile app, house cleaners, air-con technicians and other service providers can now tap the Web to transact with customers and get job orders.
Hipolito, who has an 18-year experience in managing online media companies, currently heads the Philippine unit of a Malaysian startup that facilitates job requests from customers and job offers from service providers.
She says by linking customers and service providers through the digital platforms such as website or mobile application, her company contributes to the growth of the services sector. “We would like to help businesses grow and our aim is to make them become better marketers. For the customers, we’d like to empower them with the best purchase decision by choosing the best service providers that can match their job requests,” says Hipolito, the UP-educated country manager of Gawin Inc., the local subsidiary of Malaysia’s Kaodim Group.
Kaodim Group, established by Malaysian lawyers Fui Yu Choong and Jeffri Cheong, is the company behind kaodim.com, which is changing the way customers hire service providers and contractors in Malaysia and Singapore.
Kaodim Group established gawin.ph on July 24, 2015 as its platform for the Philippines and appointed Hipolito as the country manager the following month. Gawin.ph, which was launched in 17 cities in Metro Manila, connects people to electricians, plumbers, renovation contractors, cleaners and other home-related service professionals. Gawin means “do it” in Tagalog, while “kaodim” means “done” in Cantonese.
Gawin pro app is available for service providers in Metro Manila, allowing them to manage requests for their services, their profiles and correspondence with customers. Hipolito says kaodim.com and gawin.ph match customers with verified service providers, making it convenient to compare custom price estimates, profiles and customer reviews before deciding which professional to hire.
Kaodim, which began operation in November 2014, has grown to a team of 35 professionals in Malaysia, including several Filipino staff. Hipolito says the group is also set to establish its Philippine office in Ortigas next month.
“Kaodim was founded by two lawyers—Fui Yu Choong and Jeffri Cheong who quit their jobs to form this startup. They have been passionate about disruptive businesses and they wanted to use technology to find more meaningful way to help people,” Hipolito says in an interview in Makati City.
She says the business concept arose from an actual need of one of the founders. “During that time, Fui Yu was building his home and he was having a hard time looking for service providers. So kaodim.com, which is the web and mobile platform in Malaysia, was launched in November 2014. They got a good response from the Malaysian community. From then on and after a year, they have served more than 50,000 customers in Malaysia,” she says.
Encouraged by the success of the Malaysian platform, gawin.ph was launched in the Philippines in July. “Localization was very important. Gawin was drawn from the word ‘do it’. They are also planning to launch a version of the platform in Indonesia, which will be called a different name. The tag line is get it done,” she says.
“I saw the potential in the Philippines for this kind of service and platform. I think the market is ready for it. There is a fundamental need because here in the Philippines, we only have a few sources of finding service providers. It is either through referrals, directories or classifieds,” she says.
She says gawin.ph takes a step further, by verifying the job offers and requests and connecting the parties. “The difference with gawin.ph is that the service providers are verified. It is also a faster and easier way to find service providers... You easily get custom quotes when you send the job requests,” she says. “That’s our unique services. We are able to send quotes for free to customers.”
“I got really interested to bring it here in the Philippines and I think it would help a lot of service providers, specially the small businesses to grow and look for more clients,” she says.
Prior to joining Kaodim, Hipolito was with an Australian digital company. She was interviewed by Kaodim founders via Skype in July. “We had a series of interviews and then when I was hired, I went to Malaysia for training. I stayed there for a month to learn more about the operation. I have been appointed country manager for the Philippines. My task is to form the team, to build the company here in the Philippines. I am in charge of sales, marketing and operations,” she says.
“At this stage, we are building the team and at the same time, we are starting to market gawin.ph. Our focus right now is digital. We are looking on having on board more vendors and service providers who can serve more customers,” she says.
She says the website is already running and operational and now has hundreds of service providers in Metro Manila. “We have three verticals or service types. The home services include cleaning; movers; and handyman and contractors [plumbers and electricians]. We also have interior designers,” she says.
“Our long-term plan is to encompass a wider range of services such as events and fitness lessons,” says Hipolito.
The websites are being run from Malaysia, where a team of telemarketers talk to potential clients and invite them to join the list of qualified service providers. “We are very conscious about the quality of service providers that we get on board. They follow a code of conduct. They have to comply with that because of course it really matters to us,” she says.
“They know from the start that it will be helpful to their businesses. We have been getting testimonials from them that there are some vendors or service providers whose businesses grew up to 60 percent. They get a lot of leads and clients from the platform,” says Hipolito.
Hipolito says in the first 18 days since launching gawin.ph in Metro Manila on July 24, “we got about 500 job requests. The market has been very receptive. These are job requests from customers,” she says.
“Four months later, the number has grown significantly. We have a customer care team who makes sure that customers receive their quotes. How it works is once a customer sends a job request, the service providers receive alerts via email and via mobile and they are invited to quote on the job. It is like a bidding process. We normally give customers 24 hours to respond. Normally, the customers would get quotations from up to five service providers. The customers would then get notifications via text and via email,” she says.
Hipolito says at present, gawin.ph has hundreds of service providers focusing on three service types. “Of course, we want to get on board as many service providers as possible. In the future, we intend to go nationwide,” she says.
Kaodim Group, headquartered in Petaling Jaya, Damansara Utama, Malaysia, is backed by regional and international investors such as 500 Startups of the US, East Ventures of Japan and recently Venturra Capital of Indonesia.
Since it launched the service in November 2014, Kaodim has received over 50,000 requests on its platform with thousands of Malaysians confidently hiring its trusted cleaners, contractors and other service professionals to clean their homes or repair their air conditioners. Kaodim now has a financial model, charging its service providers for the connections it provides them.
“In Kaodim, they have already started with the monetization, but here in the Philippines, we are still offering it for free to build the client base and grow the gawin.ph community. We have already served thousands. Surprisingly, the top requests are for cleaning and air-con services,” says Hipolito.
Hipolito says both service providers and customers can benefit from the technology made available by gawin.ph. “The advantage is they can choose the service provider they would like to hire. We are giving them the best purchase decision. I am also using the technology myself,” she says.
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