Technology

'Matchmakers' hook up users with service providers

Luppi's founder Mark Wong (at right), with chief technology officer, Matthew Luo (centre), and co-founder Nicholas Wong. They hope to draw at least 10 per cent of Singapore's 393,000 licensed professionals to come on board by the end of the year.
Luppi's founder Mark Wong (at right), with chief technology officer, Matthew Luo (centre), and co-founder Nicholas Wong. They hope to draw at least 10 per cent of Singapore's 393,000 licensed professionals to come on board by the end of the year.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

With mobile apps Findapro and Luppi, requests for specific services get matched in real time

More start-ups in the so-called "gig" economy have mushroomed here in recent months, specifically with the aim of linking people with professional service providers.

Among them is Singapore-based Creative Fountain, which is behind the mobile application Findapro and its sister app Imapro.

The two apps, launched last March, function in tandem as a free-to-use platform for service providers - from accountants and legal consultants to photographers and plumbers.

Users can put up their requests for specific services via the Findapro app and get matched with service providers in real time.

Payments for transactions will be held in escrow by Findapro and released only after the service has been rendered.

"Right now, in Singapore, there's still no effective way of looking up such service providers, where you can easily compare them or read previous reviews," Mr Xu Jin, 40, Creative Fountain's co-founder and chief executive, said in a recent interview with The Straits Times.

The app allows users to view the profiles of service providers and feedback from previous clients.

"Like many people, my partners and I had faced difficulties in finding trustworthy service providers for business and office problems.

"So our aim is for Findapro to be the most trustworthy, most convenient and most complete platform in Singapore and other markets that we intend to penetrate," he added.

Mr Xu said the app will benefit small and medium-sized enterprises in particular, given that it can be "very costly to hire someone permanently". It also offers professionals here a new avenue of earning income from freelance services.

Findapro has a user base of about 33,000 customers and has logged about 1,700 transactions.

Imapro has 3,000 professionals.

Mr Xu hopes to attract a user base of about 120,000 - 10 per cent of Singapore's 1.2 million local households - and some 200,000 SMEs.

The company, which is set to turn in its first profit in a year, will also merge Findapro and Imapro by the end of the first quarter this year to offer users a more seamless experience.

Another recent app in the local start-up space is Luppi - short for Linking Up People & Professionals Instantly.

Launched last month, the mobile app connects users with professional service providers in various industries, including insurance, property and banking, based on a "reverse- inquiry" platform.

For example, a user who seeks a service will be matched with a number of participating professionals within 50km.

From there, he will contact his chosen service provider.

"We're very accustomed to taxi- or ride-hailing apps - just look at the big brands out there, like Uber and Grab," Luppi founder Mark Wong, 44, told The Straits Times in an interview last week.

"But when it comes to services, whatever apps out there still run on a search platform, or a tendering and bidding process.

The user still has to scroll through a whole list of things to look for what he wants.

"What we want to do here is to create a different experience where the consumer feels like a private client or the uber rich where if you want something, people will come and render their services to you."

Mr Wong said the app aims to help professionals and service providers here compete evenly.

"A lot of times, a lot of new entrants, especially, regardless of industry, face the daunting task of finding customers," he said.

"(With the app), whoever's hardworking and wants a job will be able to reach out to potential customers and build his own client base and, in turn, his resume."

Unlike Findapro, Luppi is not involved in the transaction process, leaving it to the customer and service provider to negotiate the deal and its terms.

The app lists 15 professionals for now. It offers all professionals a free trial period of six months, after which it may charge a monthly fee of $9.99, said Mr Wong.

Luppi aims to get at least 10 per cent of Singapore's 393,000 licensed professionals on board by the end of the year and expand to other markets in South-east Asia and Australia.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2017, with the headline ''Matchmakers' hook up users with service providers'. Print Edition | Subscribe