An American entrepreneur tapped into his own credit card to put out a mobile app in 2017 to help Metro Manila homes and businesses find technicians to repair appliances and equipment.
After three years, Teko has won the trust of many homes starting in Makati where the idea was hatched before spreading across Metro Manila. Teko is a technology startup that connects owners of major home appliances with affordable and fully vetted technicians for on-site services such as repair, maintenance, installation, and cleaning.
“At that time, I had moved from the US and kind of recovering from a failed startup, and I was not really moved for any other ideas, but I guess my instinct for entrepreneurship kicked in when I was looking help for my broken refrigerator,” said Teko co-founder and chief executive Farah Barre who noticed that there is an opportunity to create an online platform that lets homeowners and businesses conveniently request for appliance repairs.
He said that like anywhere else in the world, there seems to be a dearth of decent repair and trouble-shooting works for appliances and electronics products in the Philippines.
Using his credit card, Barre started out with $30,000 in capital to create a prototype and then teamed up with co-founder Chris Teodoro to bring consumers a convenient, safe, and digital service to get their appliances repaired.
“So I launched Teko in Makati. It was just me and one developer, and with pretty much I have, the capital I got from my US credit card, and you know that capital is not that easily accessible in the Philippines. I was lucky to have that capital, and I decided to put it to work and risk it. And I soon as I got the capital, I built the prototype and got some traction. In the course of this, I sought some help and that’s where I came across Chris. We met online and he immediately saw the opportunity and the problem that I’m trying to solve and the opportunity that I was after,” he said.
Barre also found that despite having a large and young population, simple appliance repairs in the country were hard to come by.
Teko started with the convenience of the homeowners in mind, but when the demand evolved, so did its business model. The startup now serves businesses and works with both technicians and manufacturers to provide consumers with a wider range of services.
Teko made it possible for hundreds of technicians to transition from low-paying wages to emerge and thrive as “solo-preneurs”. It is also Teko’s proprietary technology that enabled their partner technicians to focus on their careers, while the startup provided the necessary business support such as back office processes, marketing, and business development.
The hardship brought by the pandemic did not deter the company from employing its technicians. Teko has continuously provided opportunities to technicians, especially those decommissioned by the crisis.
One thing Teko learned early on is the wisdom of collaboration. Instead of competing against the manufacturers’ service centers, Teko took on the collaborative approach and presented the company as the missing link in providing optimal aftersales services.
In 2018, Teko launched its first round of funding and received the backing of Concepcion Industrial Corp. This paved the way for the startup to collaborate with manufacturers and propelled Teko to introduce two Software as a Service solutions specifically for manufacturers and distributors, to cost-effectively streamline their aftersales.
Through these solutions, manufacturer and distributor aftersales organizations can tap into Teko’s large pool of partner technicians via its platform. The startup also offers its technology to digitally power manufacturers’ aftersales organizations with a customized version of its platform.
Through this technology, the entire aftersales process is powered and supported by Teko, enabling manufacturers to easily connect their customers, call centers, service centers, aftersales support teams, and parts suppliers all on a single platform.
Starting as a project to satisfy Barre’s personal need in 2017, Teko has evolved into a promising startup that has quadrupled its sales in less than two years, since receiving initial funding from CIC.
While challenges emerged during the pandemic, the startup took the opportunity to emphasize the need for their services following emerging demands of customers. In fact, it was during the lockdown that Teko recorded its highest number of orders.
“I’d like to think that our business is recession-proof. Teko’s services give homeowners the liberty to prioritize other expenses by providing them a convenient option to get their items repaired, instead of replacing them,” Barre said.
“On the other hand, when the economy rebounds and consumers start purchasing new items, Teko is well-positioned to also benefit from their collaboration with manufacturers and distributors,” he said.
Teko is now looking to expand its services geographically and categorically, to support more homeowners, businesses, and technicians.