eTechies To Close $3-5M Series A Soon; New Online Tool Offers PC Repair Estimate
India's very own 'Geek Squad' eTechies.in is close to raising institutional funding to the tune of $3 million-$5 million and the deal is expected to close in January 2012. The Gurgaon-based managed services start-up, which offers technology support to consumers and small offices and home offices (SOHOs), will use the funding to drive pan-India expansion. The monies raised will be used to set up new centres in Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad besides expanding its call centre. Currently, the company employs around 35 people at its call centre.
In November 2010, eTechies.in had raised an undisclosed angel round from Rajan Anandan and also has Jaspreet Bindra, head of Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices Division in India, on its board of directors. Anandan, currently MD of Google India, made the investment in his personal capacity as an angel investor.
The start-up currently employs a total of 68 of whom there are 25 engineers on field who undertake 130-140 service tickets per day in New Delhi alone. Overall, eTechies receives 800-1,000 laptop repair requests per month and 40 per cent of its 5,500 customers are SOHOS.
Last week, the company has launched a new service called Repair-o-Meter, a free online tool that calculates the estimated price of computer repair. Still in beta, it has price estimates for 800 popular models of PC and computer parts, as well as pricing details by leading manufacturers such as Dell, HP and Lenovo.
"Repair-O-Meter fills a major gap existing in the market. To find solutions for computer issues, people usually search online or scour through forums looking for answers or ask friends for price estimates. A lot of other sites sell products and laptop accessories but there is no e-commerce-enabled site that offersestimates on products which are not working. Therefore, there are no reference points for Repair-O-Meter," said Samarth Goyal, co-founder and CTO of eTechies.in.
However, one may not find a price estimate for the laptop he/she owns if it is not a popular brand. If that happens, the site prompts the user to call the toll-free number to get the price estimate from its call centre. Goyal told Techcircle.in that by March next year, the tool would include 3,000 more models.
Primarily, the online tool will enable eTechies.in to attract more users to its core service. Since the launch of Repair-O-Meter last week, the company has received 1,100 clicks and 200 leads. In fact, with Repair-O-Meter fully functional, Goyal expects 30 per cent jump in sales. So far, the firm has spent approximately Rs 1-1.5 lakh on online advertising (via Google AdSense) for its core service, as well as for Repair-O-Meter.
The company also plans to add to the tool over the next few months. By Christmas, the site will launch remote-support, scheduling and online payments for customers. As a result, each user will be able to fix an appointment for technology support according to his/her convenience and can also request for service in another city.
In January 2012, a generic, issue-based support will be launched for Repair-O-Meter. "If you do not know which laptop you use, just key in the issues. For example, you can just write that the keypad is not working or the battery is not charging. Our engineers will proactively reach out to you and offer support," detailed Goyal.
There are only a few sites today that offer a live chat service to resolve PC issues. eTechies.in also plans to implement a real-time chat interface on Repair-O-Meter. "We tried chat on our core service but our phone-based service turned out to be more popular, especially since customers do not have to pay for the call. As we expand to more cities, we will offer chat services as well," said Goyal.
While 60 per cent of all repair requests happen to be software and OS-related, hardware-related issues such as dysfunctional screens and damaged keypads are also very common, according to Goyal.
eTechies.in is currently in talks with online retailers who are selling gadgets online. But as it is still in a pilot stage and only offers repair service in Delhi-NCR, it will expand before partnering with e-commerce sites.
"We definitely have that in mind. Since most of the consumer electronics sites are pan-India, it is very important for us to reach the top metros in the next six months and then partner with them. That would definitely add value to our offering," said Goyal.