homescontents

WIFY: inventing, installing for you!

WIFY Technology co-founders Deepanshu Goel (L) and Vikram Sharma in their Mumbai office.

By NIHARIKA SHASTRY

With regard to home improvement and its maintenance, installation of newly purchased furniture or any other home improvement product is just as important as its purchase. Over a period of time, selection and purchase of home improvement products has become a smooth process.

However, the installation part still remains a challenge. The biggest pain point for brands is when consumers complain about the installed product not matching up to the product in the catalogue.

Vikram Sharma, Co-Founder of WIFY Technology, realised the need for field services to solve those pain points, and WIFY (We Innovate/ Install/ Invent/ Implement/ Imagine/ Integrate For You) was born! He co-founded the company with business partner Deepanshu Goel.

With his prior industrial experience, Vikram was able to figure out the problems faced by the furniture and appliance brands. With 10 crore urban households in India, there is a growing demand for modern home solutions, as a result of which brands such as Livspace, Homelane, IKEA and Pepperfry, among many others, have grown and flourished in the last decade.

However, most of these brands depend on over 10 million tradesmen for on-field services, which include pre- and post-purchase activities such as measurement, installation, after sales service, and warranty.

However, most of these tradesmen were found lacking the necessary skills to do the job, leading to inconsistent service and customer dissonance. According to Vikram, this affects everyone:

•        Brands have trouble providing high quality and consistent on-site services;

•        Home owners struggle to find reliable technicians;

•        There are gaps in expected versus actual commissioned products;

•        Tradesmen suffer from low earnings and poor productivity;

•        They need to be trained on carpentry and soft skills.

Smart skills

WIFY aims to fix these issues with an efficient and sustainable approach. In the next 10 years, the company targets to serve over 50 lakh urban homes (5% share) and generate revenue exceeding ₹1,000 crore. In the following 20 years, it desires to reach 1 crore homes (10% share), with revenue exceeding ₹5,000 crore.

On the demand side, the company’s software helps streamline on-site workflow management, and provides real-time tracking for brands and consumers, making everything more efficient and reliable.

On the supply side, it has built a training and apprenticeship engine, which ensures there are enough trained technicians available to fulfill these jobs. In the future, artificial intelligence, machine learning and new tech will help these technicians by being co-pilots, making them even more productive and eliminating any execution errors.

In addition to this, Vikram says, the data generated through all these activities is very much valuable, and WIFY considers it as the new gold. “It has a wealth of data about each home, which will enable the company to offer more tailored services and make better business decisions.”

At a macro level, there are 300 million blue-collar workers in India, with an average productivity of less than US$ 2,000 per year, and Vikram sees a huge nation-building opportunity here, with the potential to double or even triple this productivity in a couple of years.

Going hi-tech

WIFY is involved into full stack B2B and B2B2C services, serving more than 100 brands, including highly respected global and local brands such as IKEA, Livspace, Godrej, Hettich, Homelane and Panasonic kitchens, among others. The company also provides B2C and extended warranty services to the end consumers of these brands.

Apart from B2C & B2C, WIFY has recently begun SaaS (software as a service) for field service management, and counts Unilever and Welspun among its many important customers. It will begin tradesmen training and content that includes premium and other network services from 2024 – it is intended to be “the blue-collar version of Upgrad or Unacademy”, Vikram says.

Vikram says that most of their customers are won through references only, as their contracts are a combination of subscription and transactional billing. The total annual contract value from brands can be up to 10% of their annual revenue.

This 10% is the average value of “post-purchase” services, which include installation, after sales service, software, warranty, etc. This split differs by category of products, but the overall range is 10%, Vikram adds.

Training, referrals

While various brands have various fitting specifications based on their products, it becomes tougher to train the personnel on one specific brand. But the company’s onboarding and training process ensures that they are professionally trained.

The company follows ATL (assessment, training and learning) system process to both technicians as well as supply administrators. The company uses three sources for sourcing technicians and workers.

WIFY works mainly on referrals. “Each person brings over 10 new people into the network, so it is a highly scalable model,” Vikram says. The brands that WIFY works with also provide their own referrals of technicians and service providers. There is also direct collaboration with vocational training institutes, including the Industrial Training Institutes nationwide.

The onboarding app developed by the company has built-in assessment for cognitive ability, technical skills and situation awareness and handling skills. At the end of this 20 minute initial audio-visual assessment, they get to know what trade suits a person and what kind of training is necessary.

WIFY has built and curated a large repository of contemporary skilling curriculums which are delivered through the learning system for continued learning and assistance, each individual has his own custom training content and is paced based on their learning.

Main challenges

The app also provides on-job assistance (think of what Google Maps does for an Uber driver!)  “Our technicians can look through a site or a product through the app lens and he is given step-by-step instructions for task completion and troubleshooting,” says Vikram.

One of the major challenges of the company is that it needs to invest upfront in technician training, and that needs a lot of investment. All the investments WIFY Technology has raised so far have gone into training people.

The HPWWI (Hettich-Poddar Woodworking Institute) has been an important training partner and FFSC (Furniture and Fittings Skill Council) has also been helpful in getting candidates and introductions to various players in the industry.

While talking about building trust among the furniture manufacturers, in order to get their job done, WIFY allows the manufacturers to focus on their core, serve their consumers better, have better service levels, higher quality – and all that at a lower cost!

Want to know more about their services? Wish to partner with WIFY Technology? Write to vikram.sharma@wify.co.in.

Career progression for installation professionals.

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