Could ServiceLocale crack the market Sensis couldn’t?

Melbourne startup ServiceLocale has launched in beta, joining a number of startups looking to help consumers find and purchase what they want online.


While a platform like Airtasker allows users to find people to outsource tasks, and Oneflare helps consumers find tradespeople, ServiceLocale maintains its point of differentiation is focusing on the “good quality” local service market.


The platform allows those local services and “talent”, like Yoga instructors, photographers, personal trainers and makeup artists to create a profile page for free, and list packages available for consumers to purchase and book online.


Consumers select from those packaged offerings, or request quotes from businesses if they have specific requirements. Should that not work, they can then post that request on the platform’s marketplace where similar businesses can find it and offer quotes.


ServiceLocale co-founder Shiraj De Silva says the local services market has a huge potential, which is mostly untapped so far, despite a lot of activity in the e-commerce space.


“People have tried in different ways. Sensis made massive amounts of money on Yellow Pages, but that’s all listing things. Oneflare has done it with a focus on household services. But nobody is doing good quality local services, like makeup artists, photographers, event planners,” he says.


“We want to make it easier for these service providers to create an ecommerce platform and accept credit card payments, and book timeslots.”


Currently there are 25 businesses operating on the platform. Bookings and transactions can be made online, but payments are still made in cash. Once the site gets more traction De Silva says it plans on accepting PayPal payments and credit card payments via Stripe.


It’s currently completely free for businesses, but the plan is, once the website has significant volume, to charge a 5% commission per transaction, as opposed to monthly subscription fees.


It’s reaching that volume which De Silva sees as the key to success for ServiceLocale.


“The biggest challenge is the fact that we’re bootstrapped. For us scale is crucial and funding is critical. We need large amounts of users,” he says.


So far the startup has had minimal contact with investors. De Silva says the team is waiting until they can prove two things. That service providers are willing to make packages and bite-sized buyable service offerings on the platform and that consumers, even on a small scale, are willing to buy those packages.

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