BharatKlub wants to be a digital life partner for low-income workers
Whether it’s finding a home in a new city, getting a job, or even accessing loan and insurance services, today there’s an app for everything. However, low-income workers in India still find it difficult to avail of these services.
Start-up based in Bangaloreembarked on a journey to bridge this digital divide and enable access to these services at affordable prices.
Founded by Deepak Sonthalia and Komal Meena in 2020, BharatKlub aims to be the “digital life partner for the low-income workforce”.
“There is a huge portion of our population, especially the blue collar workers who remain in urban areas whose basic needs are still not being met and we want to change that,” says Deepak.
According to Deepak, there are three main priorities for low-wage earners: how much can one earn, what can be saved, and how to insure one’s life.
Using this framework, Deepak and his co-founder Komal brainstormed ideas that would help this demographic.
The duo toyed with the idea of first going fully digital to reach low-income workers, but decided against it and established a physical presence first.
At first, BharatKlub decided to meet the housing needs of low-wage people.
Deepak says the startup’s user base includes people who have migrated from a small town or village to cities and their first priority is housing. BharatKlub offers accommodation at the price of Rs 1,000 per month.
To enable the availability of these accommodations, BharatKlub has entered into agreements with the owners of the facilities promising a constant flow of customers. On the other hand, in order to reach out to their customers, the team of this startup ventured into the industrial hubs of Bengaluru and distributed fliers or put up banners to publicize their product.
“People have to be willing to pay and it has to fit their budget,” says Deepak.
BharatKlub has two types of housing agreements. In one, the startup finds tenants for landlords who have already built the dwelling. In the other case, the startup asks landowners to build such housing and then takes over management.
Today, BharatKlub has about 10,000 customers who stay in its accommodations and these are usually people who earn between 15,000 and 25,000 rupees per month.
BharatKlub directly or indirectly operates over 150 buildings in Bangalore. Also, it has more than 250 buildings listed on the platform.
After housing, the startup aims to help its users tap into the employment segment. BharatKlub says it is building a platform where people can search for short and long term work opportunities.
BharatKlub has entered into negotiations with various service providers such as banks, insurance companies and healthcare institutions that can cater to the needs of this segment of the population.
“We are also considering a network of restaurants that can provide food at a lower cost and this service can be used by blue-collar workers,” says Deepak.
Deepak believes the growing popularity of smartphones will make people more comfortable accessing services through the digital channel.
BharatKlub will not charge any fees from the users of its services but will collect some commission from the providers of the product or service.
“We would like to accompany these people in most aspects of their lives,” says Deepak.
Currently, the startup is only operational in Bangalore and is planning a foray into other cities such as Mumbai, Pune and Delhi. BharatKlub currently employs five people.
BharatKlub started as a seed company and recently raised a small round of angel funding.
Deepak has a background in retail with work experience at Trent and Reliance Retail, while Komal is a graduate of IIT Mumbai and has worked in a few tech companies.
According to various industry estimates, India has around 30 to 45 million blue collar workers depending on the classification. Even within this segment, there are subcategories of skilled workers who perform manual tasks like vehicle mechanics and crane operators.
A BetterPlace report says at least nine million jobs are expected to be created in sectors such as logistics, e-commerce, hospitality, manufacturing, financial services, and more. in FY23. Most of these jobs will be created in urban areas.
Several startups in India are developing solutions for blue-collar workers. Some of these include Apna job portal, Vahan, WorkIndia, among others.
(The copy has been updated with additional startup information.)