Sajeev Maharaj

Co-founders of the Zipo app, Sajeev Maharaj, left, and Vesham Kowlessar, shortly after they took part in a Zoom call.

LOOKING for a painter or a plumber?

Better yet, one whose work you can view from past clients and get their feedback?

Electrician? Gardener? Teacher? Dog-walker?

There’s now a place where all these services can be found or listed- an interactive service provider directory, which features reviews and recommendations.

It’s called Zipo.

It was created by two entrepreneurs—Sajeev Maharaj, 35, and Vesham Kowlessar, 30, who have been testing it out for the past six months.

In an interview with the Express Business, the business partners and friends explained that the idea was conceived pre-pandemic but it was during the lockdown that it actually took shape and form and came to fruition.

It took one year to develop.

“We realised there are a lot of websites/apps for tangible products to be advertised like houses, cars, television, pets etc. One gap we saw in this online market was the lack of a proper platform for advertising an intangible product like a ‘service.’

“From market research we realised service providers, for example plumbers, electricians, land surveyors, gym instructions, welders, ac repair techs (and the list goes on) are interested in getting their services out there to reach a wider audience but weren’t sure how to do so. We also noted that on almost a daily basis within our peer groups, social media, etc there would be a request from some type of service provider.

“With the technological shift, this is when we came up with the idea to develop an application solely for these service providers to get listed,” said Maharaj.

So they took their ideas to Intelligent Applications Ltd, who built the platform they conceived.

How does it work?

The site allows any service provider, large or small, to list their service for free. It takes less than two minutes to list the service.

It also allows a client to engage the provider, via its chat platform, and with the built-in booking feature, the client can book the service provider right away.

The duo said there is no hosting fee for the service providers.

However, if you want to promote your service, it operates similarly to a Facebook sponsored ad, where you can boost your service to the top of the list for $20.

The duo explained that clients are urged to rate the services to help other customers.

“As a Progressive Web App (PWA) users can enter zipotech.com into any browser and get access to the platform free of charge. They then will have the option to download it as a home screen version or use it in the browser. The main target devices for users are mobile devices Once you provide a service this will be your platform to get listed and showcase your company,” said Maharaj.

Kowlessar explained that several big tech companies, including Uber and Lyft, use the progressive web app.

“The reason we chose to go along that direction is so it lives on the web, you type it into your browser, but when you go into your browser you get the option to download it to your home screen,” he said.

The site has 85 different service categories to choose from.

“We also followed the Amazon model where you are allowed to review services. For me personally, if I go to Amazon to purchase something, the first thing I’m going to look at is reviews. We want to create that environment. For you to be able to, you know, properly identify the service provider you’re going to use and see what benefits you’re going to get,” said Kowlessar.

The duo is tight on quality control of service providers.

“We are not leaving it open for anybody to review the service provider because people could get their friends to review. So, after you book and the job is completed on the app, the user is then able to review your work. So that’s when they can put a picture and a comment,” said Maharaj.

He said service providers can earn Zipo badges.

Their business model for the moment is to populate their database which they expect to grow in the next two to three years.

“We are hoping to have roughly about 10 to 20,000, service providers soon,” he said.

Questioned on how they funded the idea, the duo explained that they pooled their savings and for now, they are investing their own capital into the venture.

How will they earn money?

Advertising.

“ On the homepage, we have banners, we have up to ten banners that will be charging ads. The service provider also can boost their profile. And just like with Facebook, you can go on the app and promote your profile and go to the top,” said Maharaj.

And while their focus is local at the moment, they are also looking to build it out regionally.

Maharaj said the company had a soft launch on January 30 where they used friends and family to help them tweak out the issues before officially launching.

“ We are all about continuous improvement. We are trying to look out from the customer side as we want to make the app as user friendly as possible,” said Kowlessar.

MORE INFO

Zipo Tech Limited was founded by two entrepreneurs committed to positioning this product competitively in this dynamic industry.

Sajeev Maharaj, 35, holder of a BA in Management and an MBA specialising in Marketing has been lecturing in Marketing for the past ten years at the School of Business and Computer Science.

He also operates the real estate agency—Green Acres Estates.

Vesham Kowlessar, 30, holder of a BSc in Electrical and Computer Engineering and an MSc in Production Engineering & Management has been involved in the oil gas industry for the last seven years.

NOTE:

“Users can access Zipo by entering zipotech.com in the preferred browser on their mobile devices. The user can then either proceed with the browser version or add to their home screen. For customer support we can be reached at 272-6391 or zipohelp@gmail.com

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