When a draining phone battery can trigger a mini panic attack, a weeklong sabbatical to get repairs done is sure to send us into convulsions. While being cautious can prolong the life of a device, daily usage will make it susceptible to damage eventually.
“Despite this inevitable scenario, users are left with just two options – apply manufacturer’s warranty card which most likely may have expired by the time they need it or flock to the nearest handyman,” says co-founder and CEO of electronics repair and management service company SSP Advantage, Praful Wadyalkar.
Expanded to mean ‘Smart Services Pack’, it offers a one-stop shop for maintenance, upkeep and repair of smart devices like phones, tabs and laptops. Having earned a hands-on experience in the service industry while leading after-sales at a well-known mobility brand, Wadyalkar launched SSP five years ago to give a much-needed face-lift to this market.
“We wanted to minimize all hassles an end user faces when their handsets need repairs,” he says. “We also wanted to restructure service experience in electronic and mobile industry,” he adds.
This is where doorstep pick up and drop facilities became the key differentiator of SSP Advantage, that previously went by the name PickMe. “By eliminating personal intervention in gadget care, we are redefining standards of after-sales service,” says Wadyalkar.
Additionally, the company also promises the fastest turnaround time in the market today, closing the gap between pick up and drop to just a few days.
SSP services are generally bundled along with the device by the manufacturer at an additional cost of just Rs 249. This can also be purchased as an add-on.
This brings in another element to SSP’s growth strategy whereby it partners with retailers and brand-owners to enhance consumer experience. In fact, the company has been working with clients including Samsung, Micromax, HTC, Croma and PlanetM, among others.
“Our objective is to strategically convert service cost centre into revenue centres for brands,” says Wadyalkar, who feels that most manufacturers have not invested in after-sales service infrastructure in a big way. “Even among the ones that do, their repair centres are more often than not located far off from the average consumer’s home or office, making the process cumbersome for them,” he adds.
SSP is also offering point-of-sale services like insurance and reduced warranty for these brands.
Fixing a Problem
After registering the gadget details with SSP on the purchase of the service, users can get in touch with the company when the device is in need of repairs. At the appointed time, a trained SSP representative will arrive at the user’s doorstep to collect it. Once repair work from the authorized centre begins, users will be alerted at every step of the way. The device will then be returned to the user along with a certificate, thus maintaining a proper record of the operation.
According to the founder, unsecured smartphones become perfect targets for hackers to send malicious links, which when clicked, enables them to invade a user’s privacy and read his or her texts or listen in to their calls. “Timely repair of phones can prevent the device from getting corrupted from other cyber threats too,” he adds.
Wadyalkar, however, admits that the market is still very niche and that building awareness among consumers has been a challenge – especially during the initial days.
“Unorganised retail channel compliances and structuring alliance with suitable partners took time during in the beginning,” he says. “Building credibility and scale with limited resources is always a factor for any growing startup,” he adds.
Albeit the initial hiccups, SSP has proven its mettle with a growth rate of 150% Y-o-Y. The gadget repair company also secured $1.79 million (Rs 12 crore) from SIDBI Venture Capital Fund this year. With a current user base of over five lakh registered customers spread across 52 plus cities, it plans to expand to more in the months to come.