From immense investor interest to huge funding rounds, tipping down to multiple layoffs and ultimate shutting down of business — this has been the kind of roller-coaster which India’s Hyperlocal segment has been riding on.
And adding to an already intense competition and worries of the existing players, is none other than the social media giant Facebook itself. The company has entered the segment and has begun listing various businesses and professional services in the nearby areas through Facebook Professional Services. And yes, as you’d expect — it has got everyone talking.
It not only provides the list of services but also helps the users in discovering the best services by showing the reviews and ratings of those services by the previous users.
We’re in the early stages of testing a way for people to easily find more Pages for the services they’re interested in,
said a Facebook spokesperson on being asked about the initiative.
There are 10 broad categories of professional service on Facebook at present under which users can find over 80 services such as photographers, event planners, plumbers, pet groomers, spas, painters, and financial services, among others.
At present, Facebook Professional Services website is only limited to browsing and discovery of businesses and services in the area and does not provide booking or buying options, though one may expect something along those lines in future.
Although one could search for services or business pages through Facebook search previously also, but a one stop website integrating all the services under a common platform and categories along with reviews and ratings certainly sounds an interesting idea especially due to the huge number of existing businesses on Facebook.
Facebook had revealed in October last year that there were over two million small businesses in India who were actively using Facebook pages. The company also said that there were more than 1.99 billion interactions recorded between people and the two million small businesses with Facebook Pages in India.
Already having such a huge presence of businesses on its platform gives Facebook a great advantage to develop the platform even further. And remember, Facebook isn’t just the lone platform — it has an army of its own led by Whatsapp and Messenger. The company had recently also launched a new tool for Messenger which allows the users to interact with friends and businesses through messenger codes, usernames, and links.
It is not clear though how Facebook plans to monetize this business for now, businesses do not need to pay anything for registering their services on Facebook Professional Services. Other similar platforms currently charge anywhere between 10% to 30% from the business owners to list their services on their platforms.
These include classified sites such as Just Dial and Suleka; on demand services like HouseJoy and Zimmber; and service marketplaces like UrbanClap and UrbanPro.
According to data on Tracxn, over 530 local services companies and 132 home services companies have cumulatively raised over $180 million in funding. Out of these, UrbanClap, HouseJoy, and QuikrServices remain three of the most funded companies with prominent investors putting in significant capital into these companies.
UrbanClap has $36.6 million from SAIF Partners, Accel Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners whereas Housejoy has raised over $25 million mainly from Amazon India and Vertex Ventures. QuikrServices also received a huge funding boost of 250 crores from Quikr India Pvt. Ltd.
Then there are a number of other players as well such as LocalOye, UrbanPro, TaskBob, Doormint who have individually raised fundings of $5 million, $2 million, $5 million, and $3 million respectively.
Facebook’s entry into the segment does not sound good for any of these companies who may have to rethink their strategies to cope with the sheer number of businesses already present on Facebook through business Pages.