How I Wanted to Revolutionize Electronic Repairs
In 2018 I started working on my startup idea Vao Services. Here is the complete executive summary for the company.
Our mission is to make the electronic repairs hassle-free, fast, easy and cheap for both the consumers and the brands alongside promoting new brands and startups for launching the latest products in a way that encourages recycling and sustainable development.
Vao services will be a platform that will allow customers to get their electronic devices repaired at low cost using either the new parts or the recycled parts, picked from their doorstep and delivered in next two days by few clicks on their smartphone or laptop. We will also provide under-warranty repairs to the customers of our partner brands. Alongside this, our value-added services will also include phone rentals, modifications etc.
Problems and Solutions
The biggest problem that the product-based brands face is the lack of after-sales service network that prevents them from providing good after-sales experience to their customers either due to the lack of capital or due to low sales. Our network of service centres will allow brands to provide the best customer support to their customers from the day of their product launch at zero investment.
Another problem is the high pricing and speed. To solve this problem, we have decided to open only around 25 large facilities across India in a product category. This will allow us to get the required parts supplied directly to our facility from the manufacturer and to maintain the inventory. This will ensure low cost, speed and quality control. Since parts will be available in the inventory then repairs will not take much time and with the advancements in the logistics, we will be able to provide guaranteed 2-day delivery. Also, for these 2 days, we will provide a temporary device to our customers at additional charges.
The biggest problem for which people are not that much concerned is of the e-waste. E-waste is causing various environmental concerns but the irony is that most of the time what we think e-waste is not at all a waste. Most of the non-working electronic has just 1 non-working part and rest the of parts could be used for other repairs but we just throw the whole device. Our solution is to collect such so-called e-waste and extract the usable parts from them and use them for value repairs. Value repairs are the term given by us to our solution of using recycled electronic parts for the repairs. Value repairs will ensure proper quality checked genuine parts at very low cost with warranty.
In order to validate our idea and to check whether our services would be appealing to the customers or not, we conducted a small survey (currently under progress), the results could be seen at this link.
We will communicate with our customers with the help of our website and app. They will have facilities like booking, tracking and billing. Also, the customer will be able to claim the warranty from the app or the website itself.
Technology will also play the import role in making our facilities more efficient, whether by use of advanced machinery for repairs and quality control or automation of the facility.
We also want to use artificial intelligence to improve the overall experience. AI could be used to improve cost estimation and time prediction. We will also use AI to improve our supply chain.
We will provide under-warranty repairs to the customers of our partner brands. In such a case, the brand will pay us all the expenditure. This will also help to develop both initial and consistent customer base.
Our general repair proposition will have 2 kinds for charges i.e. services charges and parts cost. Service charges will cover all the costs which include logistics, facility maintenance, technician salary etc. Since we are getting parts at low cost than we can have a high margin on them. And in case of value repairs, we are getting parts at extremely low cost.
Our value-added service will also be a good source of income.
Timeline and Expansion Plan
As soon as we get the seed fund/angle investment we will start collaborating with parts’ manufactures in case of laptops since they generally have standard parts and also with small, large and international mobile, audio and other electronic accessories’ brands so that we can provide under-warranty repairs to their customers. We will also partner with an e-waste extraction company that will extract material from e-waste extracted from our facility and also the un-useable e-waste that we have collected. We will start working on our app, website and complete platform for smooth operations.
In the may next year, we will rent a warehouse for our facility and will start its construction. Also, we will partner with ITI institutes for technicians and will start training them. Other partnership will be with the logistics company for doorstep pickup and drop. During this time only, we will start collecting un-usable electronics for our value repairs.
With all these we will to start our first facility in Delhi in August next year, this will cover whole Delhi NCR, Haryana and some parts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Next few months we will analyse and try to improve our facility and overall business model. After this, we will start operations in regions near Mumbai and Bangalore.
Our next target would be to expand our operations in the whole country and reach the target of 25 facilities so that we can add more brands to our portfolio and provide the best service to our customers.
After this, we will start adding more product categories in our servicing portfolio.
Our competition is mainly with the brand authorised service centres which are mainly franchises based, the biggest problem with this model is that franchise lacks insurance for the brand, quality control and have overall high operation cost. It is also not possible for the small shop to maintain the inventory and this makes overall experience pathetic and slow.
Local shops are known for their cheap and fast repairs but most the times, the parts used by them are duplicate and overall quality of the repair is very poor. They lack authenticity and generally, people don’t trust them.
Next, we have the multi-brand service centres like HCL and TVS and the problem is in the name of their concept only i.e. multi-brand. They are similar to the brand authorised service centres so they do not just face same problems but since they have to serve customers of multiple brands, this makes them much harder to operate and overall experience is much more pathetic and slower.
New startups like SSP Advantage which are trying to solve some problems with their multi-brand proposition and doorstep pickup and drop facility suffers from the limitations of the same old school franchise-based model and small stores.
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