Metroplus

Make a wish with Genie

The Genie team. Photo: V. Ganesan  

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From getting you a bag of popcorn to organising a party, a service start-up by four city-based youngsters has plans to meet all your demands.

Ever felt too lazy to book movie tickets? Or craved your favourite dishes from three different restaurants at the same time? Or forgot to buy a cake for the surprise party you’re throwing for a friend and have no time to run out and buy one yourself?

Four city-based boys have come up with the solution to all these situations and more: a “convenience aggregator service” called Genie. It’s a simple concept: send them your requirement via WhatsApp, and they’ll get it done. Sreekesh Krishnan, Parth R. Shah, Rakesh Mani and Bharath Lalgudi Natrajan — all 22 years old — were inspired by Magic, a similar service available across the U.S. “A lot of people use phone directory services to get the contact number of service providers. We thought, why not provide a service that supplies the thing they want itself,” says Sreekesh. From getting your car serviced to organising an entire party like they did a couple of weeks ago, the team is game for pretty much anything. They even stocked up on helmets and sold them at MRP (unlike many retailers who literally cashed in on the demand) during the great rush just before the helmet rule was re-enforced in the city.

After a successful private beta testing in February, they prepared themselves for launching, and did so in early June. Between the four of them, they handle three teams: communication, where the requests are received; resource, where the items are sourced or arrangements made and the delivery fleet, which makes sure that the customer gets their request as soon as possible. Both cash on delivery and online payment options are available. The convenience charge depends on the area: up to five km is free. And it’s only the deliveries that are charged; there’s no convenience fee if you ask them to book an airplane or train ticket.

“When we started off, we had about four orders a day. Now it’s up to 25 on average, and our delivery crew has gone up from two to six,” says Sreekesh, who is already a serial entrepreneur (this is his fourth venture).

Parth, who handles logistics, says, “We cater to the lazy and the busy. In fact, movie bookings are our third-most- requested service, even though there are apps for that. We’re like a digital butler!”

In that case, even Batman might have had less strange requests of Alfred. “One guy wanted popcorn from Sathyam, falooda from Zaitoon and idli from Murugan Idli Shop. The challenge was to get them all fresh and at the same time to his house in MRC Nagar, but we managed it in about 50 minutes,” they recall, adding, “Basically, we don’t say no to anything. We’ve been asked for limousine rentals and helicopter rides and arranged them as well. The things that no one can do, we want to do.”

The enterprising youngsters want to crack the Chennai market within the next eight months. According to Sreekesh, “If we can do it here, I think we can manage any other city.” They plan to expand to Hyderabad and Pune next, but will give Bangalore a miss, as it’s already overcrowded with start-ups.

WhatsApp or SMS Genie on 91760 43643. You can also find them on Facebook .

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2018 4:57:06 PM | http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/make-a-wish-with-genie/article7489548.ece