Page Advisor aims to be ‘Amazon of services’ in SEA
By Benjamin Cher November 13, 2015
- Expands offerings to include retail services and merchant packages
- Looking to expand to other SEA countries in 2016, and even to China
[This story has been amended]
SEARCHING for the right person to fix that leaky pipe is a challenge that all homeowners face. Navigating the myriad of directories available, not all online, can prove to be a daunting task.
This is where Page Advisor steps in, saying its app provides a platform for merchants to list, and consumers to find, the right people for the job.
Merchants who list on the platform can tap into the startup’s marketing knowledge and concentrate on just their core business, it claimed.
Launched in May, the Singapore-based startup has now also expanded to Malaysia, targeting what it describes as the home and lifestyle services segment. Its app is currently available for both iOS and Android devices.
It now claims over 49,000 users since launch, recording a gross transactional value of S$600,000 (US$443,000). [Corrected]
But this was no ‘overnight success’ since it took about two years of development before Page Advisor was ready to launch, according to founder and group chief executive officer Fabian Lim.
“I wanted to establish a project that utilises all my entrepreneurial experience, and one of the areas I’m strong at is working with local service providers,” Lim told Digital News Asia (DNA) in Singapore.
“We realised that the home services space is very fragmented, and we could create a solution to help both customers and consumers,” he added.
Whether or not Page Advisor makes a mark is not as important as taking a shot at it, according to Lim (pic below).
“Looking at our traction six months after launch, I believe we have a good shot at making an impact globally,” he however said.
While making a transaction may be quick and simple on the Page Advisor app, the startup is throwing in more than just listings for consumers.
Aside from the usual ratings and reviews, it offers a few other features such as the enhanced PIN (personal identification number) security feature, where merchants have to verify their identities through a PIN the consumer inputs into the app.
Merchants who sign up under the merchant guarantee programme will offer a “100% money-back guarantee” for customers who use them. Refund requests will be investigated, and legitimate cases will be awarded the full amount back, according to the company.
While merchant signup and listing are free, Page Advisor’s business model revolves around taking a percentage cut of the confirmed job – 12% for merchants who signed up for the guarantee programme, and 15% for those who did not.
The credit card transaction cost is covered by Page Advisor and is included in the percentage charged to the merchant. The payment system is powered by Braintree Payments, a PayPal subsidiary. [Amended after corrected information from Page Advisor]
“We work with established players and do not store credit card information on our site, having Braintree take care of that instead,” Lim said.
“We ensure that the data we collect is not used for other purposes to ensure we comply with the Personal Data and Protection Act in Singapore,” he declared.
Merchants are vetted by the startup, with a requirement that they have to be a registered business and not just a freelancer, according to Page Advisor cofounder and chief operations and legal officer Daniel Tan.
“We do basic due diligence on merchants, making sure they are a registered business,” he said.
“For certain services that require certification, we ensure that the relevant certificates and licences are shown to us,” he added.
Merchants with consistently bad reviews will have a follow-up from Page Advisor, and each incident will be investigated, according to Tan.
“If it turns out that the merchant cannot be trusted to deliver quality service, we will have to part ways with them,” he said.
“We want to curate merchants who … can provide top-class service, and because we are not a subscription service, we have no obligations to the merchants,” he added.
Page Advisor is now looking to expand its reach by expanding its services, according to Lim.
The startup announced an upcoming feature called Packages, which allows consumers to buy bundled services – such as a household cleaning package, under 60 seconds, he told a media briefing yesterday (Nov 12).
“We took the more popular jobs and packaged them along with our merchants, telling them the popular configurations users seem to be buying, and we worked with them to come up with quick pick packages.
“This changes the way you hire a service provider, and we will be rolling this out by end-November,” he added.
Page Advisor also announced that it would be entering the retail services space, and will begin listing such services in both Singapore and Malaysia.
“It was our deliberate plan to establish dominance in the home services industry, which is the most challenging of all services,” Lim said.
“It explains why we were working for two years before we launched – but moving out to the retail services space is relatively easy and we are excited about it,” he added.
The startup wants to be a one-stop shop for services, and is looking to roll this out towards the end of December, according to Lim.
“You will be able to use your app for everything in services, from home to retail to lifestyle,” he declared.
“It’s a huge scope for us to cover in just one app, covering cashless payment and merchant guarantees,” he added.
On the technology front, Page Advisor is looking to add location-based marketing within the next six months.
“It is something a lot of people want to do but can’t seem to get right,” Lim argued.
“This will be the biggest impact for Page Advisor – to get accurate, location-based promotions which don’t exist right now, to be honest,” he added.
The startup will also be making its platform available on the Web by December.
Funnels from the sidelines
Most of the leadership team in Page Advisor also run other personal businesses, which is unusual for a startup. Lim himself runs Internet marketing courses on the side, which has benefited Page Advisor in more ways than one.
“For me, it is a different play because most of my account managers are my Internet marketing students who want to put it to practice, and what better way than to get involved in my startup?” Lim said.
“There’s no better way to get like-minded people into my startup for no cost, because we do profit-sharing,” he added.
Page Advisor account managers are not paid salaries but operate on commission, getting a percentage of each successful transaction that their merchants enter into. Lim declined to disclose the actual commission figure.
“Think of it as a crowdsourced model, because if you want to expand really fast, you need a lot of people, and we are 70 strong in Singapore and Malaysia respectively,” Lim said.
Funding and roadmap
Page Advisor also announced the appointment of Solstar International chief executive officer and former Member of Parliament Inderjit Singh (pic above) as chairman of the board. He was previously an advisor to the startup.
“As an advisor he was ready to assist when needed, but as chairman he takes a more proactive role in helping us look for ideal investors,” Lim said.
“Inderjit will also help map out our expansion plans, among other things,” he added.
Inderjit has also made a “six-figure investment” into Page Advisor, which makes the appointment appropriate, Lim said.
When pressed on the exact figure, he declined to elaborate, but added that with the investment, Inderjit has been given a “small but significant” stake in the company.
Page Advisor is currently funded by its founders, to the tune of S$1 million (US$700,000), according to Lim.
“The reason why we put in so much money is because it takes that kind of money for this kind of scale of development and growth, echoing our firm belief in our vision,” he declared. “[It is] putting our money where our mouth is.”
Page Advisor is looking to expand to the rest of South-East Asia in 2016. Indonesia will be the first stop, in January 2016, with the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam to follow.
It is also eyeing markets like Australia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and is ambitiously aiming for China and India by 2017, and Japan and South Korea by 2018.
“We are acutely aware that it is strategically important to align with likeminded investors for that kind of expansion,” Lim said.
The startup is looking to raise a pre-Series A round, and is looking for “big investors who can follow us all the way to becoming a unicorn,” he proclaimed.
“We’re looking at a couple million (in Singapore dollars), which is typical for large startups,” he added.
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