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UrbanClap rebrands itself as Urban Company to focus on horizontal gig marketplace

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NEW DELHI :
In a rebranding exercise, home services startup UrbanClap on Thursday said it will now be known as Urban Company as it repositions itself into seven key verticals capturing the company’s ambition to become a horizontal gig marketplace and expand its global footprint to Australia and Singapore.

“We now have a bouquet of services so it was important to have a mother brand or an umbrella brand which can house all these sub brands. Urban Company will be our brand forever for all markets and geographies now,” said Abhiraj Bhal, co-founder and CEO Urban Company in an interview to Mint.

The seven verticals comprise services such as beauty, spa, grooming, repairs, cleaning, painting, and fitness and yoga, that are offered through its mobile app and website.

Launched in 2014 in Delhi by Abhiraj Bhal, Varun Khaitan and Raghav Chandra, the startup has expanded its operations to 17 Indian cities – Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Ludhiana, Lucknow, Vadodara and Visakhapatnam – and four international markets – Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sydney and Singapore. The company launched its Singapore operations about 10 days ago.

Currently, Urban Company has an army of 25,000 plus trained professionals across various verticals. “We work closely with our service partners, helping them with up-skilling, financing, insurance, product procurement etc., transforming them into micro-service entrepreneurs,” said Bhal.

Training is a big focus area of the company, and Bahl said it employs about 100 full time trainers and have more than 50 training centers, with training certified by the government’s National Skill Development Corporation.

In August, the company raised $75 million in a Series E round led by US-based investment fund Tiger Global Management, valuing the startup at around $935 million. In total, the Gurugram-based firm has raised about $180 million from investors including SAIF Partners, Accel, Steadview Capital, and VY Capital.

Of the $180 million, the company has given back around $45 million to existing investors, angel investors, shareholders and employees. “We have almost $100 million in the bank, our unit economics are strong, we are making forward looking investments in training, branding, selection and our India business is on the path to profitability,” added Bahl.

According to market experts, what has worked for Urban Clap is the high quality of service they provide, the focus on value, standard pricing, and the convenience that it offers to the customers.

In FY19, UrbanClap claimed to have completed around 3.3 million service orders, a sharp rise from around 1.2 million service orders in FY18. Gross transaction value (GTV) of all orders in the last financial year jumped to 400 crore from a GTV of 130 crore in FY18. GTV represents aggregate spends of a company’s customers in a particular financial period, according to a Mint report.

The online home services segment includes companies such as Amazon-backed Housejoy in Bengaluru, Zimmber, which was acquired by classifieds firm Quikr, and Mumbai-based Timesaverz.



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As Congress scrutinizes gig worker rules, small-business owners need to know the basics – The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Uber’s UK ruling could have implications for gig economy startups

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Former Uber drivers Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar first brought their case against Uber in 2016
(Carl Court/Getty Images)

The UK’s Supreme Court has rejected Uber‘s appeal against an earlier ruling that said its drivers must be classified as workers, a result that may have a significant impact on other gig economy companies.

The decision—which cannot be appealed—means thousands of UK Uber drivers cannot qualify as being self-employed, entitling them to both minimum wage and holiday pay. The ridehailing company could now face paying substantial compensation to its drivers.

The ruling, which criticized Uber for sidestepping UK labor laws to withhold benefits, could influence other battles between gig workers and the companies that hire them. Earlier this month, the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain appealed against a court decision preventing riders for food delivery startup Deliveroo from engaging in collective bargaining due to their self-employed status. Deliveroo, which is backed by investors including Durable Capital Partners and Amazon, is looking to go public this year.

“Employees should benefit from improved rights; however, employers are likely to face increased costs of labor and disruption to their business models, which have proven to achieve rapid scale with gig workers,” said PitchBook analyst Nalin Patel. “The ruling may also now set a precedent in the UK and force other gig economy startups that utilize the self-employed contractor model to rethink how they operate in the region moving forward.”

Former Uber drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam originally won their tribunal against Uber in 2016. Uber appealed the decision, but it was upheld in 2017, and again in 2018 by the High Court.

“This ruling will fundamentally re-order the gig economy and bring an end to rife exploitation of workers by means of algorithmic and contract trickery,” said Farrar, who is also a general secretary with the App Drivers and Couriers Union. “Uber drivers are cruelly sold a false dream of endless flexibility and entrepreneurial freedom.”

In a statement, Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood,  said the court decision was focused on a “small number of drivers” who used the app in 2016. Since then, he said the company had made changes to its business,  providing free insurance in case of sickness or injury. He added: “We are committed to doing more and will now consult with every active driver across the UK to understand the changes they want to see.”

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The future is now for gig-based entrepreneurship – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

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With Californian Kamala Harris as vice president, it’s clear the new Biden administration is taking its cues from the once-Golden State on labor policy.

In one of its first acts in office, the Biden Administration placed a regulatory freeze on a Department of Labor regulation enacted in the waning days of the prior administration relating to independent contractors.  The rule, according to labor and employment law firm Fisher Phillips, “aims to make it easier for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors.”

It’s unlikely this rule to give more workers freedom to be their own boss and set their own schedules will survive in a Biden administration that was heavily reliant upon labor unions for money and manpower to win the 2020 campaign.

Meanwhile, House Democrats recently re-introduced the controversial PRO Act in Congress, which “seeks to reduce the use of the independent contractor classification by companies such as Uber,” according to CNBC.

Both of these efforts followed the lead of California’s liberal legislative majority, which two years ago enacted the controversial Assembly Bill 5 to severely restrict the ability of Californians to work as independent contractors.  Their goal is to increase union membership and dues and force people to work in traditional, 9-to-5, union jobs that are relics of the past.

Doubling down on AB 5-type restrictions at the national level – which may be the Biden administration’s goal with the nomination of Julie Su, California’s chief AB 5 enforcer, as deputy Secretary of Labor – would be a tremendous mistake.  It would threaten innovation and hurt the ability of Americans who have lost their jobs to put food on the table during a global pandemic.

As documented in the new Pacific Research Institute study, “The Small Business Gig,” Americans are increasingly working in the gig economy.  They don’t want government – whether in Sacramento or Washington, DC – dictating how they can earn a living.

A 2018 Gallup survey found that 36 percent of U.S. workers have some sort of a gig worker arrangement.  Whether renting out an extra room to earn cash to pay the mortgage or using an app to earn a living on an alternate schedule, the gig economy is increasing opportunities for Americans to become entrepreneurs, while providing customers with lower cost services.

Many in California state government see the gig economy as exploitative and disruptive.  But data from the ADP Research Institute shows that 70 percent of gig workers are independent workers by choice.  Gig Economy Data Hub research found that more than two-thirds of gig economy workers are satisfied with their current work arrangement.

Government shouldn’t pick winners and losers in the economy.  New restrictions on the gig economy, like those proposed in Congress, will limit people’s freedom to become entrepreneurs while institutionalizing the old way of doing work.

Instead of adopting regulations at the federal level that 58 percent of Californians – Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike – rejected when they passed Proposition 22 in November, the Biden administration and Congress should take the opposite approach and enact market-based policies to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.

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