Meet the Founders: Interview with the Troolr Co-Founders
Troolr Co-Founders Shivam Bhalla and Amedeo Lattari have worked tirelessly to bring a clean and streamlined platform to the users, and emphasize the importance of transparency and the potential for change in the future. This week we sit down with the Co-Founders and get an inside look at the minds behind Troolr.
Q. As Individuals, what drives you towards your goals? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Shivam: Being an immigrant in the US has been one of my biggest inspirations. Knowing all the struggles small independent contractors face supporting their families on a daily basis, has brought us to build this platform. Small contractors and businesses pay a high amount of fees on our competitor platforms which is something we want to address. We want to provide an equal playing field for those who do not necessarily have the resources to compete with the bigger companies.
Amedeo: Growing up my father had a tile and flooring company, so I know firsthand how constantly finding new customers is crucial to keep local businesses alive – back then it was mainly word of mouth. Fast forward to 2018 and now thanks to the internet there are many more avenues to help local pros find new customers. What drives me is helping small business owners and local professionals – and even though there are currently a few different platforms that help match customers with professionals, the fees are very high and confusing. Our goal at Troolr is to create a platform that is: free, fair and transparent for both the consumer and professional/business.
Q. Where did you get the idea for Troolr?
Shivam: It came out of several needs in my life but the first most one was when I needed a couch moved from a showroom to my apartment. I did not have a friend with a pickup truck nor did I have any recommendations at the time. My only resort was to google moving contractors but I was directed to businesses and not individuals. I tried to get a quote from a moving company from Yelp but they were charging me a high rate for something I just needed one person for. My last resort was Craigslist, which I was able to find someone for a very good price but I had a horrible experience. That lead me to research the local services industry and I was shocked to find that something like this did not exist. The existing platforms like Thumbtack or TaskRabbit just did not work for my needs as they were not transparent about requesting a pro immediately without any middleman.
Q. What inspired the name Troolr?
Shivam: Coming up with a catchy, simple, and unique business name is not easy. I could not start building the platform until I was able to finalize the name. It was 3:30 am and while asleep, I dreamt about the name. The second I woke up, I went online and checked if the domain name was available and it was! I did not waste any time and immediately purchased the domain name and web hosting. Recently I have received feedback that “Troolr” remind them of the “True Tool” to find local service pros at no cost, which fits perfectly with our mission.
Q. What is Troolr’s purpose and how does it distinguish itself from the competition?
Amedeo: This kind of ties into our previous answers. Troolr’s purpose is to be a platform that is easy to use and most importantly fair for both parties, the consumers and the professionals. I think that’s what really makes us stand out from the competition, the fact that it’s such a clear and transparent platform, it’s very easy to navigate. That being said we’re also making it very fair for the professionals who don’t necessarily have a cheap, viable alternative.
Shivam: Our platform differs greatly in terms of our process and methodology. We do not charge our businesses to pay per lead as unlike our competitors do. We are not asking you 25 different questions just to do a simple search, we provide consumers with direct connection with the pro. We also provide contractors who are not necessarily technologically savvy, a portfolio that can be picked up by search engines like Google, giving them organic growth. Those are just a few of the differentiating factors that make us stand out against the competition.
Q. Where do you see the site going? What changes are you hoping to implement?
Amedeo: We have a lot of features that we are planning on releasing over the next six months. We have listings coming out at the end of September which is going to be game-changing for the website. The layout and results pages are going to change, it’s no longer going to be profiles it’s going to be listings. As a user, you can actually post multiple listings. So let’s say you’re a handyman, but you also offer cleaning services and you’re willing to do that not only in San Jose but also in different cities, you will be able to create multiple listings. Another big feature we are planning to roll out is on-demand pros – where you can request a professional in real time. We will be rolling that out once we release the Android and iOS app.
Q. Do you have any advice for people with similar aspirations? Any tips for excelling in both the business and the technical facets of running a website?
Amedeo: I think the biggest advice I can give is to follow your passion. If that is working at a startup or building something from the ground up then I would say do it, it’s never too late. I was working at a wealth management firm for about 6 years and got comfortable, although deep down I knew I wanted to try and build a company from zero. After Shiv approached me with what he envisioned with Troolr, it was a huge decision for me to leave everything behind and move to Silicon Valley, but so far it has been worth it. So my biggest advice is to follow your passion. Sometimes you just have to find the courage and take that risk.
Shivam: Do a lot of research before making a decision, take calculated risks. Don’t be afraid to fail especially at a young age. Fail quickly, the lessons that come from failing are priceless. Don’t let negative people get in the way. People are going to say that it isn’t going to work. One of the first comments I received was that nobody will use it, but that’s part of the process of a new journey. It comes down to your determination and drive. You just have to go for it.
Q. How can Troolr users get the most out of their profiles? What can they do to potentially increase the number of customers who contact them through the site?
Amedeo: This will tie in more with our upcoming release, but in order to get the most out of listings, list often. Even if they list and don’t get any clicks, keep in mind that Troolr is an early stage platform. We are doing our best to tackle both sides of the marketplace and we are currently focusing on the professionals. So they shouldn’t give up if they don’t hear anything in a couple weeks or a month. Just keep trying because it will pay off.
Shivam: They should fill out their profiles as much as possible. The more information they provide the more people will want to reach out and connect with them. Also, they should tell all their friends and family, the bigger the Troolr community gets, the better it works for both the users and the professionals.
Q. Do you have any last thoughts you would like to share with your users?
Shivam: We are very thankful for all of the people who have signed up and we’re trying our hardest to supply you with more features and connect you with customers.
Amedeo: We’re an early stage company, so we’re still nimble enough to make quick changes to the platform. Any feedback given to us is going to be heard, so we urge you to let us know if there are features you would like to see on the site. As we previously mentioned, we are building Troolr with our users in mind – so any feedback is welcome.
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