Shreyas Kulkarni

"Not trying to replace the maid; she's an ally": Urban Company's Abhinav Tyagi on new 'home lifestyle services' for urbanites

A chat with Urban Company's SVP marketing about its new bathroom cleaning service. The company is also piloting a home chef service on a smaller scale.

“You do a better job at their place than ours!” No Indian household-maid relationship is complete without this statement being uttered at least twice a month.

It is this very relationship that Urban Company has explored in its new ad, wherein it has also announced a new service, i.e., bathroom cleaning.

Founded in November 2014 as UrbanClap, it changed its name to Urban Company in 2020. The company is today a leading player in the on-demand home services market that includes players such as HouseJoy, Mr Right, UrbanPro, Zimber, etc.

Bathroom cleaning is an indicator of Urban Company’s entry into every room in a household.

When salons were shut during COVID-induced lockdown, Urban Company sent trained beauticians and barbers to our living rooms and bedrooms. If your AC needs to be serviced, or a pipe is damaged, then the company can send someone to fix it in a day.

But what about the kitchen? A Twitter thread from Madhavi Mukherjee reveals that the company is also testing home chef services. We can confirm that it’s a pilot project exclusively for Bengaluru, as of now.

All these years, we used to call different individuals for these diverse tasks. Now, Urban Company provides all these services under one roof.

The company is in it to make urban living “easier”, says Abhinav Tyagi, Urban Company’s SVP, marketing. He joined the company in January this year after spending over 17 years at Hindustan Unilever (HUL), where his last role was that of general manager, customer marketing.

Abhinav Tyagi
Abhinav Tyagi

He tells us that his company looks at services where people want a significant upgrade, and “they become the places we try and get into.”

The ad made by Taproot Dentsu pits the maid against the cleaning services of Urban Company.

But getting Indians to switch over from their maid to a branded service is easier said than done. We’re talking about changing a consumer habit that’s remained active for several decades.

“We are not trying to replace the maid,” states Tyagi, adding, “She is an ally.”

The maid has been part of the Indian household for several years. In many places, she is an extension of the household. But Tyagi feels, “she has to take care of tough cleaning situations alone. Also, she often does not have the right resources to clean those tough stains.”

Tyagi suggests a remedy, where you can book an Urban Company bathroom cleaning service once in every three months.

“We will come with a bunch of professionals, who will use specially formulated safe-to-use chemicals and cleaning aids. The tools will wipe off (three months of) accumulated stains in the bathroom… the maid can maintain cleanliness every day, or once a week, instead of having to climb Mount Everest trying to get rid of the tough stains on her own.”

When prodded about another new service (personal chef) the company had ventured into, Tyagi said that it’s too early to comment. They are still “experimenting and trying to understand the market for it and what will make it better…”

On the Urban Company app, you will notice that it is available in major urban areas, and not in regions you’d consider rural, or Tier-III/IV. “Urban living is sort of our TG because a lot of the services we offer are related to the urban lifestyle,” explains Tyagi.

Urban Company has been pretty visible on TV and digital, but we wonder if it is considering upping its marketing monies or, perhaps, launching a blitzkrieg because Reliance Retail just bought a 40.95 per cent stake in Justdial for Rs 3,497 crore.

“We haven’t planned a blitzkrieg, but we have a set thought process on how to build the category,” Tyagi signs off.