Digitalization could really do wonders for those who are up to join the bandwagon. Take the case of local startup Teko, an online home appliance service provider.
According to Teko’s CEO and co-founder Farah Barre, Teko was launched in Manila in 2017 to provide convenience to homeowners and job opportunities to home appliance technicians.
“It all started with a broken fridge,” shared Barre. “Our fridge needed repairs at that time and I was surprised that for a country full of heavy internet-users, there were no online appliance repair services available,” Barre recalled.
Being an entrepreneur that he is, Barre noticed this opportunity to create an online platform that lets homeowners and businesses conveniently request for appliance repairs.
“I thought that if I cannot get a service that allows me to easily book online a reliable technician, I might as well create one,” added Barre.
By June, Barre launched Teko with only $30,000 capital using his credit card. After gaining initial traction with a prototype, he teamed up with his co-founder Chris Teodoro to bring consumers a convenient, safe and most of all, digital service to get their appliances repaired.
“In a nutshell, we are basically a company that is connecting homeowners and businesses with professional technician,” he said.
Basically, a client just have to log in. Once an order is submitted, there will be an automatic confirmation and reminders via an SMS from Teko.
In 2018, Teko launched its first round of funding and received the backing of Concepcion Industrial Corporation (CIC), the country’s leading provider of home appliances and airconditing equipment.
This paved the way for the startup to collaborate with manufacturers and propelled Teko to introduce two Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions specifically for manufacturers and distributors, to cost effectively streamline their after sales.
Through these solutions, manufacturer and distributor after sales organizations can tap into Teko’s large pool of partner technicians via its platform.
The startup also offers its technology to digitally power manufacturers’ after sales organizations with a customized version of its platform.
Through this technology, the entire aftersales process is powered and supported by Teko, enabling manufacturers to easily connect their customers, call centers, service centers, aftersales support teams, and parts suppliers all on a single platform.
Teko started with the convenience of the homeowners in mind, but when the demand evolved, so did their business model. The startup now serves businesses and works with both technicians and manufacturers to provide consumers with a wider range of services.
Through Teko, hundreds of technicians transitioned out of low-paying wages and have managed to thrive as solo-preneurs. It is also Teko’s proprietary technology that enabled their partner technicians to focus on their careers, while the startup provided the necessary business support such as back office processes, marketing, and business development.
Teko also provides guaranteed protection basically to comfort the client and guarantee their property from accidental damage or other property damage. Once settled, the system automatically sends digital receipt.
Three years after, local startup Teko steps into the limelight post-lockdown, stronger and even more committed to provide convenience and job opportunities to Filipinos than ever before.
Even with the threat of pandemic, Teko has continually provided opportunities to technicians, especially those displaced by the current circumstances.
Instead of competing against the manufacturers’ service centers, Barre and Teodoro took on the collaborative approach and presented Teko as the missing link in providing optimal aftersales services.
By digitizing, all the sectors involved are put on a single platform to connect seamless communication from the client computer or mobile device.
They put in safety nets and criteria, too. Teko requires technicians the normal NBI clearance and two year experience in their field. Technicians are required to follow service and quality standards.
On top of that, they have to observe good manners and professionalism in dealing with clients. Teko technicians are also continually monitored to ensure they deliver quality service. Of course, they are required to have mobile phones.
So far, Teko has onboarded over 600 technicians although there are 2,000 technicians in their database.
Through its online platform, technicians work with clients according to an agreed schedule. With that, technicians earn above minimum wage with earnings at a range of P30,000 to P100,000 a month.
Teko has evolved into a promising startup that has quadrupled its sales in less than two years.
While challenges were faced during the pandemic, the startup took the opportunity to emphasize the need for their services following emerging demands of customers. In fact, it was during the lockdown that Teko recorded its highest number of orders.
“I’d like to think that our business is recession-proof. Teko’s services give homeowners the liberty to prioritize other expenses by providing them a convenient option to get their items repaired, instead of replacing them,” Barre said.
When the economy rebounds and consumers start purchasing new items, Teko is well positioned to also benefit from their collaboration with manufacturers and distributors.
Teko is now looking to expand its services geographically to support more homeowners, businesses, and technicians.
They are looking at partnerships with more manufacturers so they can service their home appliances.
“We are very customer centric company, we really need to delight the customer’s convenience,” he said citing his co-founder Teodoro for driving the entire ecosystem.
Their markets are predominantly businesses, offices, shops, restaurants, stores.
Of course, there were challenges, but digital technology has made it easier for everyone.