The hyperlocal segment saw a lot of deal activity in 2015, but investors have now turned cautious and laying emphasis on sustainable growth. That was the crux of a panel discussion on hyperlocal business at the Techcircle India Ecommerce Summit 2016, held on February 10-11 in Gurgaon.

Rahul Khanna, managing partner at Trifecta Capital, said that investors are now focusing on how to get their money back while UrbanClap founder Abhiraj Bahl said 2015 was about survival and the journey starts now. “We have to get deeper into the categories and improve the customer experience,” Bahl said.

Industry executives said they had to experiment with a lot of models to find the one that worked. “We started with hyperlocal marketing, but realised it wasn’t working. So we continuously pivoted ourselves,” said Gajinder Singh, CEO, Paymango.

Navneet Singh, co-founder of PepperTap, said that the best way to get customers is through word of mouth. Housejoy CEO Saran Chatterjee agreed that it’s imperative to focus on the customer. Chatterjee also said that while raising funds, startups had to show there is scope to be profitable. “The key part of the diligence while raising money was showing sustainable growth. We had to show that we were not losing money on any order that we fulfilled,” he said.

Chatterjee also said that Housejoy’s acquisition of MyWash was a step toward understanding all the needs of a household. However, he admitted that unit economics was an issue there and said that he’d be happy if the company broke even in laundry.

UrbanClap’s Bahl was of the view that there are certain categories like plumbing where customers just want to get the job done, irrespective of a supplier. “But for wedding photography or math tutor, the customer does not want you to make a decision. This is where we do curation,” said Bahl. He said that companies need to remove suppliers if they do not measure up to the quality standards and added that UrbanClap had removed a fourth of its suppliers.

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