Armed with a homemade cleaning cream and a team of six, Umesh Sainani from Mumbai is riding on a captive and still untapped service base of millions of PCs
One can sense the modesty when Umesh Sainani says, “This is a very small business that I am up to…” Sainani runs Amba’s Computers Cleaning and Polishing from Sion, a busy suburb of Mumbai. Like the name suggests, he is in the business of ‘polishing’ PCs in offices in the city.
Three to four years back, Sainani was at the office of a friend. The PC of this friend was in a pretty messed-up state, in terms of cleanliness. His friend, in dismay, asked Sainani if something could be done to make it all spic and span. One would have passed this as general whining, but Sainani was already seeing a business potential in that small talk. The next thing this graduate, who had no knowledge about chemicals, knew was that he was experimenting at home. The target was to make a cream that could change the face of a dingy PC. Turns out, it was only a matter of time and lots of failed experiments. In about six months he had brewed the perfect homemade recipe to make dirty computers shine.
Rolling out the business
The funds that were required to start off came from his own pockets, as mentioned by Sainani. The next step for Sainani was to procure customers for his business. Big corporate offices, call centers, management schools, movie halls… places that housed a good number of PCs, formed to be his target customers. He adopted the method of cold calling offices and requesting them to let him give them a free demo of his service. “Once they see the demo and the results,” says Sainani, “they are always ready to give me a contract.” Customers also came through references from friends to do up the PCs at their offices. The business was starting to gain momentum at this point. Word-of-mouth started working for him.
The time had come for him to increase his manpower. For this purpose, he got some students from his locality to work for him. Sainani trained these students to develop a skill to clean the computers like he does. With human resource in place, Sainani started giving more demos and taking more orders. Sainani now has a decent customer base that includes 15 big offices, and 20-25 small offices. For these customers, Sainani holds a contract of cleaning the PCs once every month. Ask him how much he charges for his services, and Sainani replies, “It really depends from company to company. In a setup of 50 plus PCs, the charge could be around Rs 5,000.”
Besides cleaning and polishing computers, Sainani also offers the service of cleaning the likes of air conditioners, fans, windowpanes, etc. “I can even get rid of permanent marker stains,” he proudly informs.
Challenges in the business
Like many startups, Sainani too faces the problem of procuring and retaining human resources. Then there is the problem of an order being feasible. Sainani explains, “I do not service individual computers or an office with less than 50 computers, as it is simply not feasible for me to travel all the way to clean just one computer.”
With existing customers, timings also get taxing. “At multiplexes, they typically want me to clean the PCs in the morning at eight, before opening the counters,” says Sainani, “While at many offices they want us to come in after eight thirty in the evening.” As mentioned by him, in this business the timings are allocated by the customers and not by him.
What the future looks like
Sainani has a dream to take his business to the next level, and he is already working on it. In terms of expansion, he plans to set up branches in Pune and Nasik within the next one year. A couple of years back, a company offered Sainani to help in setting up franchises for his business. Back then he was not fully prepared to go out in a big way. He explains, “If I took orders and could not service them properly, it would not have been a good thing for my business.” With the waters tested now, he is all set with more ideas on his mind to grow both horizontally and vertically. He is currently looking for funds. Any takers?
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