Ovvy announces US$436k in seed funding
By Digital News Asia May 22, 2019
- Funds will be used to extend existing B2C solutions into the B2B sphere
- Focusing on Singapore initially through the target market of expat households
OVVY, a new local online marketplace for household and other services in Singapore, has raised US$436,011 (S$600,000) in seed funding from angel investor Rapzo Capital.
Launched in Singapore in June 2018, Ovvy incorporates a comprehensive ecosystem of local merchants and service providers, together with search features and safety protocols. Ovvy connects savvy buyers with trusted merchants and suppliers of practical daily services.
Rapzo Capital managing partner Stuart McLelland, said, “Through our initial investment in Ovvy we saw an opportunity to bring focus and clarity to the online services space. We believe Ovvy has its finger firmly on the pulse of local service practices and user concerns and is best positioned to succeed in a challenging space where others have faltered.”
Since launching in June 2018, Ovvy has secured 30,000 downloads, of which some 20,000 are active users of the app (including service providers).
This first round of seed funding through Rapzo Capital will be invested in extending Ovvy’s existing B2C solutions into the B2B sphere, extending services beyond the household sphere and into other everyday services that businesses use.
The Ovvy app plans to revolutionise the way in which people search for a plumber, painter, electrician, or removals man. Gone are the laborious days of leafing through the Yellow Pages or Googling for contractors. Ovvy aims to make finding service providers easier by allowing users to post detailed job requests together with an asking price that merchants then bid for.
To help them choose a service provider users can scroll individual profiles, browse service ratings, and peruse user reviews. Some of these are word-of-mouth reviews from users’ social media friends as Ovvy is fully integrated with Facebook. Any reviews posted by friends or family members appear by default at the top of the list. This enables users to snag the best possible deal and spot good recommendations by trusted peers.
Using just their smart device, users can find any type of help they need, from cleaners, handymen, and movers to plumbers, electricians, painters, and air-conditioning repair men.
Moving forward, Ovvy plans to expand its category of B2C services to such areas as pest control, pet sitting and others. In time, Ovvy will further expand its service offering to cater to B2B customers, especially small-and-medium-sized enterprises requiring services like graphic designers, social media content creators and web developers.
Ovvy is free to download and use, with users and service providers being charged a small transaction fee for each service they commission through the app.
Chief operating officer Mia Gigandet said that users actually claw back these fees by being allowed to compare obscure but equally skilled service providers. “If you Google you are not accessing people who could perhaps do your job for less, or who are just as qualified but who lack the marketing skills to find you,” she said.
The Ovvy platform’s payment system helps to prevent scams and disagreements. Once users accept a bid, payment is transferred via PayPal to an escrow account, which only releases it to the service provider once both parties mark the job as completed.
“It’s much safer for everybody because we hold the funds,” Gigandet said. “If anything goes wrong, we have a record of every single thing that’s happened – every single conversation, every photo that’s sent. In the case of a dispute, Ovvy will step in to adjudicate the disagreement.”
In addition to Ovvy’s search, comparison, booking, and payment features, the platform incorporates various safety protocols that allow consumers to verify the identity of service providers entering their homes on jobs. Service providers who upload a photo of their identity card receive a tick on their profile indicating that they’ve been verified.
Ovvy also allows them to submit relevant job qualifications. Registered businesses are asked to provide their ACRA and BizFile details. Also, to add an additional layer of security, when users scrutinise job reviews they see reviews submitted by their trusted online friends right at the top of the list.
At the same time, Ovvy strives to build lasting relationships with its roster of service providers. Merchants receiving insufficient successful bids can contact Ovvy’s support through the in-app chat. Ovvy will then assist them in re-writing their profile, adding suitable images of completed jobs, and will even advise on a more engaging profile picture.
“Ovvy’s service providers really feel like they are a part of something, ‘the Ovvy family’ if you will” said Ovvy’s co-founder and chief executive officer Thomas Beattie. As for the older generation who might face difficulties navigating the app, Beattie added that Ovvy was designed to be user-friendly to those from a non-tech savvy generation.
“Any questions they have, we address them immediately,” Beattie said. “We guide them through step-by-step. Anyone reaching out to us receives an individual walkthrough and all the hand-holding they need”.
“The Singapore services app market has been quite crowded,” conceded Beattie, but he added that out of all the apps in this space Ovvy’s is the most attuned to local needs and local consumer concerns. “Unlike the other platforms, Ovvy permits users to review and select their preferred choice of service provider. Our platform does not foist pre-selected merchants on you; you always have full autonomy and control to make that purchasing decision. And users can choose a merchant they are most comfortable with by chatting with them before hiring them.”
Ovvy’s strategy has been to penetrate the Singapore market initially through the target market of expat households. Singapore consists of about 1.63 million non-residents, out of which 42% (685,000 customers) fall within Ovvy’s initial target market, comprising dependents of citizens, permanent residents, work pass holders, students, and employment pass holders.