Right from counting your calorie consumption, tracking your periods to maintaining your to-do list and appointments, there are apps for every single thing out there. As a smartphone user, you are spoilt for choice. Sometimes, it gets overwhelming for your phone because, how much can your phone handle? A startup in Kerala saw the loophole in the system and found the perfect solution to make people’s online and offline lives easier. We’re talking about Errando, a Kerala-based hyperlocal errand service startup.
What Errando does is make your life easy. They help you place and deliver orders for food, stationery, medicine, grocery. They also drop off packages in case you’re occupied and even execute errands on your behalf. Even though this sounds like yet another service application you need to download, it is not. Errando is WhatsApp API-powered. So all you have to do is use their WhatsApp.
This is quite remarkable as there are over 487 million WhatsApp users in India. It is also the leading country with the largest audience size on WhatsApp. Making use of an accessible, already existing platform, Errando has managed to eliminate a lot of hassles for its users, making it the next best service Indians can take advantage of.
The Errando Story
We spoke to one of the founders of Errando, Askar Poonthala, who shared his entrepreneurial journey into building India’s first errand service that uses WhatsApp as the mode of communication.
Askar shared, “Shameer Pathayakandi, Nasly Mohammed, Vinay James Kynadiand, and I started Errando in 2016 in Kozhikode. We created an app-based model for people to access our services. In 2019, we expanded to Kochi, Trivandrum, and Bangalore. Our startup stood out because we didn’t entirely focus on food delivery. Rather, we expanded to include a wide range of hyperlocal services which was very rare back then.”
Back in 2017 itself, Errando started taking orders using their WhatsApp number. Recently, however, WhatsApp launched its API version for businesses to boost their e-commerce sales. The founders at Errando saw this as the perfect opportunity to shift the core of their business from their app to WhatsApp.
How WhatsApp Changed Their Business
Askar commented, “WhatsApp is used by every second person you meet. So, we didn’t think twice before making WhatsApp API our mode of contact with customers. Thanks to this, we’ve also had interesting orders that have enabled us to think differently. We’ve had customers (NRI and local) who wanted us to book pooja slots in temples and purchase തിരി and oil of a particular brand from a particular place. If students ever forgot their books at home, customers would use our app to deliver it to them on time. So yes, it is the customers who have enabled us to experiment with our service.”
During the initial days, Errando had a hard time finding delivery persons. Even if they did find, there was a “shame” associated with being a delivery personnel. As such, the hired members wouldn’t wear uniforms or take their job seriously. Askar said, “It was because of food delivery apps like Zomato and Swiggy that changed the perception of delivery jobs. Many Keralites found such jobs to be not appropriate or up to standards. However, when the Zomato and Swiggy waves blew up, more people started taking up the job. This trend eventually helped us garner more employees.”
In 2019, Errando launched in Kochi. They mainly focussed on B2B errand services where they became partners to deliver commodities such as perishable items to other businesses. The same model was expanded to Trivandrum and later, Bangalore. With WhatsApp, they are now able to easily acquire national and international clients who wish to fulfil a wide variety of errands in India.
At present, Errando is all set to expand its operations to other South Indian cities such as Hyderabad, Chennai, Coimbatore, Mysore, Mangalore and Thrissur. If there’s one thing we can learn about Askar Poonthala’s journey in building Errando, it’s that consistency and keeping up with the changing market trends will help you attain success. Keep your core strong while adapting to change.