Following a relatively quiet March, April witnessed a few interesting startups emerge, and with a couple of major events such as Google I/O and StartupX Foundry’s Colombo Tech Startup Seminar on the horizon, we may be in for an active 2nd quarter as new ideas potentially ooze out.
This month, we have a couple of companies looking to create an online space for skilled labour, a bookkeeping service solution that’s focusing on helping our local startup and SME community, and a site that’s looking to create a central hub for wedding-related information and services.
Srifinder.lk is a service that wants to put skilled workers of different expertise into a central hub, and make it easier for people looking for these services to be able to find a local worker to do a specific task.
The process is useful for those looking for an expert. The first step is to select what specific service you’re after, followed by your choice on when you need the work done, and then the location you require it at.
The site lists only 141 experts at present, which is a small number. The most noticeable roadblock for growth is that the site does not come translated in Sinhala or Tamil. This restricts a lot of the skilled trade labourers (i.e. carpenters, plumbers etc.) from accessing the site, where language can be a barrier.
There is definitely a market for this kind of service, and if Srifinder.lk can offer their product in Sinhala and Tamil, they could increase the count of experts exponentially. Services like this could lead to a much needed level of professionalism and greater market space for skilled trade labourers, who often rely on work via referral.
Endorse follows the concept of recommending someone for a particular service. Endorse allows you to find experts for a particular job based on recommendations.
The process is rather simple; you sign up and proceed to recommend someone. Endorse has done a more than solid job of providing a healthy level of detail in categorising what you’re recommending someone for ‒ in that you can select a service, a specific location, and add a short summary on why you’re recommending that person.
The final step of the recommendation process caused us some concern. After entering in a phone number, the question asked on the site is whether we were the business owner. Given that the concept is that you’re recommending someone and not your own business, this step was rather confusing. Perhaps this will be addressed as it needs to be noted that they are still in beta.
Recommend/rating models can be very effective, but they can also have the curse of fake users providing unfair assessments on an individual. Maintaining integrity in its recommendations will be the biggest challenge Endorse faces as it looks to grow.
Cloud Accounting is a bookkeeping services startup that’s targeting the local startup and SME market. Given that most bookkeeping services cater to foreign companies that want to outsource their accounting services, this is an interesting business strategy.
There is no sign-up process on the site, and at present, the only way to contact them is via phone or email.
There is nothing revolutionary here (they use Xero as their product), but services like this can be successful, especially since Cloud Accounting has taken a smart decision to focus on a niche market. Startups can focus on their core businesses while having all their bookkeeping needs handled.
Sri Lankan’s love their weddings, so it’s a no-brainer to create a digital space for all those couples (or their parents) planning the biggest night of their lives. Although Wedding Connections has been operating since 2015, they hadn’t spread to the digital sphere until recently.
Wedding Connections is simply a knowledgebase for wedding planners. The site splits itself into categories such as bridal dressing, jewellers, photographers etc, and then lists providers for these particular services. It’s perhaps not the most intuitive site out there, but it serves the purpose for the most part.
For those who aren’t too keen on going with their Mom’s recommendations, Wedding Connections is a convenient hub of all things wedding, and is a pretty simple and potentially successful business model that our wedding crazed society will likely adopt.
April’s startups are turning services that usually depend on word of mouth into connected online solutions. The potential these startups have to reduce the clutter and noise most of us face when dealing with these processes is quite exciting. Come May, and post-Google I/O, we could potentially see a few more startups like we’ve seen in April, that focus on enhancing experiences to our existing but still poorly connected markets.