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Ever find yourself paging through the Yellow Pages (or Google), looking for that one plumber who knows what he’s doing but doesn’t cost a fortune? Of course you do. If only there was a way you could find skilled tradesmen with backing reviews and a relevant asking price. Well, this is exactly what Redfish has been up to for the last two years.
If you haven’t heard of it, Redfish essentially acts as a tradesman-meets-customer supply and demand platform with ratings and reviews. It’s currently on a mission to become the number one space for tradespeople in South Africa keen to apply their skills in one of 27 categories such as building to gardening and plumbing. It’s almost like a Gumtree for services, but with an added review feature.
The inspiration for Redfish comes from witnessing the success of this marketplace model, which co-founder Philipp Hartmann says has been tested and proven to work in may other countries. Specifically European services like MyHammer and Werkspot have grown quite popular in their home countries. The latter for instance holds nearly one million assignments, over 7 000 craftsman and over 140 000 references.
“In Europe and USA the concept has been proven successful. Other approaches in South Africa are either closed-systems or directories with some added social media features. No-one currently provides a completely open, democratic platform matching leads with vetted & rated service providers,” argues Hartmann.
So how does it work?
As mentioned above, Redfish enables people to meet the supply and demand of services. Customers log their needs (i.e. “I need someone to renovate my bathroom,” or “Please build cupboards.”), wait for a quote from tradesmen and choose the best tradesman with a reasonable quote and a good track-record. Once the job is done, just post your own review and rate the service for future reference.
The last step is to obviously filter out the good services from the bad services and the trustworthy ones from the reliable. “Our rating and vetting system, together with the fact that numerous relevant tradesmen bid on a job, allows our customers to find the tradesmen suited best for their job around their particular needs such as price, quality and safety,” says Hartmann.
For the tradesman, Redfish acts as a lead-generator. To be featured on the site and receive leads, you can opt for the basic package which is free of charge but asks 7.5% commission of all your services done via Redfish. To scrap the commission charge you can opt for the premium package which charges R299 per month with staff assistance for your account activity.
“Previously it was almost impossible for tradesmen in remote areas or without a bigger marketing budget to access leads in other areas. By implementing a democratic platform for this particular sector we are leveraging the fact that quality work is socio-demographically independent and are allowing for equal opportunities,” he says.
Asked about user traction, Hartmann notes that at the end of 2014 the startup’s monthly growth was 45% on the tradesman side while customer growth went up by an impressive 30%.
The team isn’t disclosing any revenue figures at this time.
The Google Africa Connected finalist has been bootstrapped and founded by Hartmann, Theunis Hanekom, Joost Gielen and Genvieve Dalrymple. The latter is no longer an active member.
“Our unique combination of team, technology & experience in digital and the home improvement and construction market gives us a competitive advantage,” says Hartmann who’s acts as adviser for the startup. Redfish finds itself backed by a heap of experience in the digital space and national and international partners.
For instance, Hanekom has a general background in sales, marketing, recruitment as well as running his own business. Hartman, on the other hand, is an entrepreneur and seasoned digital marketer who funded local and international digital agency GSDH. Joost Gielen is a seasoned online entrepreneur with the likes of popular outfits Freshheads and Werkspot (Holland’s leading supply-and-demand platform for home improvement and construction) operating in the Netherlands.
“We believe our shared entrepreneurial spirit, our strong networks and the fact that all of the currently active founders have founded and run other companies in the past is very beneficial. We share a common, clear understanding of what is required to build a startup like Redfish in challenging environments,” explains Hartmann.
Together, this team wants Redfish to become the go-to platform for home improvement and construction in South Africa. Though as a first-mover, Hartmann says, the biggest hurdle has been educating people on how the concept adds value to both sides.
It’s to no one’s surprise that South Africa has an employment crises. Especially when it comes to manual labour, the market is flooded, which means that choice could be overwhelming or simply confusing for customers.
Do you think Redfish has what it takes to set these disparities straight?