Sidharth Kulbhaskar, a marine engineer by training and an established team leader founded Myla—the digitally empowered connecting bridge between service providers and consumers—as an empowerment platform for ease of doing business.
Sidharth started his career on ships post getting his engineering degree and completed his Masters in shipping, trade, and finance from Cass Business School, London. Since 2002, he is based out of London in various roles like fleet managers and major oil and gas companies. He utilized his experience of managing people, international projects, and business management in Myla by conceptualizing a digital platform through which people can be empowered. Though his biggest section of intervention has always been hard-core structural sectors like Oil and Gas, he was fascinated by the digital revolution that changed the way business is done.
Sidharth has traveled worldwide while single-handedly managing billion-dollar projects on a day-to-day basis. As a manager who has dealt with both blue-collared workers and white-collared professionals, he could understand the demand and supply equation for services between the two groups, and Myla was modeled to bring this demand and supply together.
Digital India helped him to think of a virtual platform that can enable service seekers and providers. Sidharth, who always wanted to develop a digital intervention that can empower people at the ground level decided to put on his entrepreneurial cap and launch Myla as a start-up. Digitally empowering people with tools for business that can help them consistently is what Myla aims for. Himself a multilingual with multi-dimensional experience in management, Sidharth visualizes Myla a multi-language interface platform that leads to Ease of Doing Business.
According to his own words, “Services utilizing the edge of Technology will bring in the next revolution. Myla has just started walking – the steps in business, we are looking at transforming Myla into a global platform. It is the target of the senior leadership of Myla.”
We got a chance to interact with him and find out more about his journey to date along with his future strategies:-
1. What’s your background, and what are you currently working on?
I am a marine engineer by training who has found his calling as an entrepreneur after spending my entire life on ships and fleet management. I am currently working on a start-up called MyLa, which is poised to create a digital bridge between the demand and supply of human talent.
MyLa.in aims to bridge the gap between individual and small-scale service providers and customers looking for quality service. With a mission to empower grass-root service providers digitally and transform the way services are delivered to customers, MyLa.in is a start-up that actively tries to turn the dream of Digital India true.
2. What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I founded MyLa as the digitally empowered connecting bridge between service providers and consumers—as an empowerment platform for digitally excluded manpower and build into ease of doing business for them.
I started my career on ships post getting my engineering degree and completed my Masters in shipping, trade, and finance from London Business School. Since 2002, I am based out of London in various roles like fleet managers and major oil and gas companies. I utilized my experience of managing people, international projects, and business management in Myla by conceptualizing a digital platform through which people can be empowered. Though my biggest section of intervention has always been hard-core structural sectors like Oil and Gas, I was fascinated by the digital revolution that changed the way business is done and impacted.
3. What were your marketing strategies to grow your business?
While there is nothing better than happy customers spreading the word of mouth across channels, Myla does indulge in growth marketing – combining offline methods in select geographies along with digital marketing through multiple channels focusing on our target audience. Our customers and partners are also being empowered and rewarded for their referrals.
4. What are your goals for the future?
MyLa.in encourages individual skilled handymen to bring their services to the registered customer’s doorstep through the app-based interface. In keeping with the India Government’s emphasis on “Start-up India, Stand-up India” and “Digital India”, MyLa works with individuals and small-scale service providers across India by helping them register their own full-fledged digital shops thus empowering them end-to-end with digital business capabilities. In essence, the service providers just have to bring their skills and tools to the job and all other digital business support is given to them by “Myla.in”. The goal is to get every individual digitally empowered and connected.
5. What were the biggest challenges you faced and obstacles you overcame?
Starting a company from scratch is never easy. The journey from building on our ideas to building trust in minds of customers and vendors in the early days has been a challenging task. COVID was a bigger trial – to run the business while not being able to interact face to face with our partners and staff given covid challenges, complying with various regulatory requirements, and others. Technology like webinars, online meetings, and dedicated focused teams were utilized to solve those issues.
6. What are your greatest disadvantages? What were your worst mistakes?
We feel that at the moment, our greatest disadvantage is the lack of reach to important markets compared to some competition. Being a new start-up, Myla is yet to become a recognized brand, hence market access is yet to build.
Start-up means new to the concept of the work—there are mistakes that happen with many decisions taken. Being and start-up entrepreneur the problem is not what mistake has occurred, but rather how fast one is ready to comprehend the mistake, adapt to the situation, and correct them in real-time, before it becomes a real problem.
7. If you had the chance to do things differently, what would you do?
Hindsight is always better so it is not prudent to carry regrets. Rather it is much better to learn and move on and not repeat the same mistake again. Not everything goes according to plan in many situations in life. One has to be agile enough and positive to learn quickly and act.
8. What are some sources for learning you would recommend for entrepreneurs who are just starting?
As a start-up entrepreneur one has to be an all-rounder in every aspect of business function while maintaining self-discipline. Whether it is accounting, marketing, human management, customer service, finance, or regulatory compliance — one possibly cannot be an expert in all these domains, but one needs to have an understanding of all these verticals.
At first Google and YouTube can be good resources and teachers, but with maturing businesses, more insights will be required. There should be no hesitation in reaching out to more experts in the domain and indulging in focused learning. Learning from other entrepreneurs is always the best as they have been in your shoes a few years ago. I have often seen that people genuinely want to help out in every way if they see your passion for the entrepreneurial attempt and love for the start-up.
9. How has Covid19 affected your business and how do you cope with that?
COVID has really offered a lot of unprecedented challenges in terms of human interaction and team-building prospects. Everyone had to be virtually working. Internal and external stakeholder management sometimes became difficult if one is just addressing things virtually. Sometimes one can’t beat the good old human interactions and group work which brings in a lot of positive energy to the team.
We had some challenges in terms of team members being very anxious and worried for their loved ones during peak covid times which took away focus from the job at hand. Some lost their dear and loved ones too. Empathy and compassion as well as accepting that sometimes some things are beyond our control gave strength. Also establishing a sense of purpose for everyone was a key motivating factor.
We came out stronger as a team. COVID also showed us opportunities and new ways of doing things and helped us in imbibing technology at a faster rate which would not have been possible without a threat. For example, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well our service partners managed to adapt our zoom, meet, and webinar engagements often only seen in an enterprise environment.
10. What problem does MYLA solve and how would you say it relieves “pain” from your customers?
Myla is the authentic bridge between our customers and partners. we bring fully vetted and digitally empowered service providers to our users through the digital platform for any home services need. One can call it a ‘Services Supermarket’ where people can buy multiple specialized services in one place — Myla.
Customers are given the choice to pick the best value for money when they are scouting for services.
Firstly, they can just choose from our fixed offering and buy a service by paying online. Secondly, the customers can ask for a quote from different service providers for a given service and decide on whom to choose. Thirdly, they can have a video consultation and get the best advice for the given job from our experts.
Our super app makes it easier for users to order any service they like with a few taps on their mobile. They can be confident that the service providers are vetted, offering transparent pricing with no hidden commission. Topping up all these, they have recourse to come to our customers’ service center, should things don’t go as expected, which is very rare in Myla.
11. What is your hiring strategy for the next quarter? How do you engage with academia for managing manpower supply?
Myla is growing at a fast rate and hence our hiring is always going on for full and part-time positions including many expert freelancers for specific requirements. We are also very focused on getting interns to our organization and our internship program is very strong. We work closely with many universities and colleges in the cities we operate in, to create both internship and full or part-time opportunities for the students.
12. Which cities you are going to start operations in the next 6 months to 1 year?
Our focus is mainly on Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Though our app gives the opportunity to anyone from anywhere in India to register and be part of our ever-growing network of service providers and service seekers, we are present in about 20 cities at present for our home services category. We are actively working on increasing it to 40-plus cities in India within a year span.
13. Is your start-up committed to Giving back to society? What’s your CSR Policy?
Yes definitely. Our main business focuses on digitally empowering unorganized individuals and small-scale service providers in India. Our vision is to bring forward this vast group of individuals to the forefront of the Indian economy through digital empowerment.
Social Security measures like offering insurance and loans for their business, and skill development including not only technical but soft and business skills on a mass level is something that Myla is working on.
Moreover, we are in close talks with various organizations including Skill India Disabilities Wing, so as to how to give more freedom to our differently able brothers and sisters through creating more engagement opportunities.
Myla.in is a home services start-up aiming to bridge the gap between individual and small-scale service providers and customers looking for quality service. With a mission to empower grass-root service providers digitally and transform the way services are delivered to the customers, Myla.in.in which actively tries to turn the dream of Digital India true.
Myla.in is founded and headed by Mr. Amit Kulchand, Mr. Amit Shankar, and Mr. Sidharth Kulbhaskar who have extensive corporate experience in senior management across diverse industries in India and abroad in reputed multinational companies.
“Myla.in.in” provides a digital platform to individual skilled handymen and brings their services to the registered customer’s doorstep in India and globally through digital connections. To achieve this Myla.in is empowering individual and small-scale service providers across India by opening their full-fledged digital shop thus giving them end-to-end digital business capabilities. In essence, the service providers just have to bring their skills and tools to the job and all other digital business support is given to them by “Myla.in.in”.
The vision of the start-up is to make the majority of the Indian unorganized service provider workforce a part of digital India. The approach of the founders of Myla.in is to empower the unorganized service providers of India with end-to-end digital capability of their own. In this regard, they aim not only for the domestic market but also for the global market.
On the customer side, Myla.in.in has taken advantage of rapid urbanization, leading to nuclear families with higher disposable incomes but less leisure time, where families want hassle-free service providers at their beck and call. The accelerated digitization process that has migrated from goods to services also impacted Myla.in catering to the shifting preferences of customers.
My Life Assistant is dubbed as a services supermarket, where every type of service can be bought. The start-up is aiming for the first phase of the portal to be currently operating across 20+ major cities in India with massive growth plans across the country on the launch of Myla.in Mobile Apps leading to the second phase of expansion.
MYLA.IN’s platform offers vendors end-to-end digital capability: invoicing, order management, quotations, payment integration, insurance, etc. It offers a lot of benefits to the vendors, including their own custom page on MYLA.IN platform, showcasing their skills and qualifications, priority order matching, vendor loyalty program, feedback, rating and reviews Vendor training via webinars and workshops (English and Hindi), & payment protection for vendors. Moreover, Leads are first verified by MYLA.IN team before forwarding them to vendors for fulfillment.
Myla.in is active in 20+ cities in India and has to date completed 20000+ orders, and collaborated with 5000+ vendors who are a part of this platform. Presently bootstrapped, the company aims to raise $10 million in funding.