#edGY: Helping you get things done

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WHEN IT comes to sourcing and finding service providers, we often find ourselves trawling through directories or asking our friends for recommendations.

Some have a small pocket directory or name cards accumulated over the years. However, more often than not, contact details are no longer in use or a service provider has stopped business.

Some like to stick to the same contractor even though there might be others out there who do a better job.

Lawyers Choong Fui-Yu and Jeffri Cheong were seeking an effective and convenient alternative to the old methods of finding service providers in Malaysia.

They came up with Kaodim.com, a web and mobile platform launched in September that enables users to find, compare and hire the right professional for almost any kind of service… within legal limits, of course.

For service providers, it’s an effective and convenient platform to discover more job opportunities and meet more clients.

Kaodim translates as “It’s done” in the Cantonese dialect, and the idea came about after Choong and Cheong encountered a few painful experiences of their own when they were renovating their houses. They explain that they have always been passionate about businesses that find innovative and better ways to provide value to the community.

Speaking with #edGY, they reveal that Kaodim’s business model is inspired by similar services in the US such as market leader, Thumbtack, which is worth more than US$800 million.

So, how does Kaodim work?

A customer submits a job request and answers a few questions that are aimed at getting a clear indication of what the requested job entails.

Kaodim then matches the customer with several professionals based on the requirements. The professionals will then provide a quotation for the job and an introduction.

“The customer can then compare the several quotations, qualifications and other information about the service providers they have been matched with through the service providers’ profiles, so they are able to decide who’s the best person to hire for the job,” explains Choong.

Customers will also be able to interact with the service professionals through an in-built messaging system.

Choong adds that as they develop the beta version, customers will be able to submit reviews and ratings for each service professional they’ve hired in order to provide more credibility.

They also believe that this will promote an ecosystem where service providers are incentivised to improve their quality of service and responsiveness to their customers.

“Through Kaodim’s unique features, we’re certain that it will reinvent the marketplace for professional services, making it much more dynamic, progressive and efficient. We believe it will lead to improvements in customer service and transparency, which are important for both the customers and businesses,” says Cheong.

Kaodim filters through the service providers before approving and listing them on the platform. Most of the professionals who offer their services through Kaodim are recommended by at least one person.

Additionally, businesses have to provide accurate information about themselves and their businesses, which will then be verified via telephone, email and information available online.

“We take customer safety and experience very seriously and we’ll be conscientious about removing businesses which do not meet the expected standards,” assures Choong.

The growing numbers

Within a month of Kaodim’s test launch, over 300 businesses consisting of general contractors, professional cleaners, photographers, personal trainers and make-up artists signed up on the platform.

In the same month, Kaodim’s users submitted over 50 job requests, and its service professionals responded with more than 200 quotations and introductions.

According to Choong, all of this was purely achieved by word of mouth and organic social media shares without any form of paid marketing or advertising.

“Ultimately, we want to drive commerce and create value for our users and service providers. It’s a big goal and this is just the beginning. That’s what excites us and keeps us pushing forward,” he adds.

They believe that Malaysians will use this platform because it addresses all the pain points in typical transactions.

Kaodim does not want to disclose how much capital was invested to start up the business but the duo say the larger investment were the countless weeknights and weekends spent to develop the product.

The platform will remain free for users but since these are still early days for Kaodim, Choong and Cheong are open to several monetisation models.

One of the models in mind to generate revenue is by charging a nominal fee to service providers that have issued quotations for job requests received via Kaodim.

“This strikes an important balance between both parties — on one hand, giving service providers the freedom to decide whether to take on a job opportunity that is presented and, on the other, ensuring that only service providers who are truly serious, willing and able to do the task submit quotations to the job request,” explains Choong.

According to them, this model can give service providers a huge return on investment potential, especially with bigger jobs.

“We believe this model makes it affordable for the service providers and would serve to promote scale for Kaodim’s growth,” says Choong.

Next on their agenda is to cover more of the residential and commercial space. The platform will gradually expand to include many other types of services including tuition classes, music lessons and gardening.

“The long-term goal is to gradually build and market Kaodim into a self-sustaining platform that can grow organically,” Choong adds.

This article first appeared in #edGY, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on October 27 - November 2, 2014.