All those hours— and lifetimes— spent battling customer care over an exorbitant credit card statement or an inexplicable phone bill can now be outsourced to Akosha for a fee of Rs 450
After graduating from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, in 2008, Ankur Singla joined a corporate law firm in London where he worked for two years.
The middle man: Ankur Singla also tries to filter out the noise for companies and manage customer expectations. Priyanka Parashar/Mint
“I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur,” says Singla, and the fact that his job—despite the fancy pay package and a Londoner’s life—wasn’t stimulating enough just made the decision easier. “Within three months of this job, I had started getting frustrated at the absence of innovation in the legal field and I wanted to do something about it,” he says.
Singla realized he needed to stay put in a steady job for some time before plunging into the deep. So he stayed on for two years, accumulating experience, learning, and most critically, earning money. All that money—as well as his chartered accountant father’s office in Chandigarh—came in handy when he returned to India in May 2010, brimming with ideas, and a slightly limited budget. “I had my savings—approximately Rs 8-9 lakh—and also raised a seed fund of Rs 5 lakh from the start-up accelerator The Morpheus. Most of this went into hiring people as I worked out of my father’s office initially and didn’t take a salary,” he says. He started Akosha in May 2010 and now has two offices, in Nehru Place, New Delhi, and Noida, adjoining the Capital.
In the beginning, the idea was to simplify complicated—yet essential—legal work and Singla began by starting a website for online wills. Soon he realized the niche nature of such a website (“People weren’t exactly banging down our doors to make wills,” he says), and decided to branch out into three more areas in order to bring change to a larger number of people: rent, power of attorney and consumer complaints. By December, it became clear that the one thing that affected people most on a day-to-day basis was consumer issues.
As a mediator of consumer complaints, Singla says the company’s role in solving customer complaints cannot be discounted. A bulk of his time, therefore, goes into networking and building relationships with companies. “The problem in customer care is that most of it is outsourced. The higher management wants to help but they aren’t directly in touch with the customer. This is where we come in,” he says.
What Akosha also does is filter out the noise for companies: “Every time we get a consumer complaint, we set their expectations right. Often, you might have a problem that’s actually not the company’s doing at all. We try to reason with such customers,” he says.
“I can always go back to a law firm. But for the moment, it looks like we’re here to stay,” says Singla.
“Solving consumer complaints is a full-time job and Akosha takes on the task for their customers,” says Singla. In one-and-a-half years, Akosha has moved to handling over 20 queries daily and is connected to customers online and via email. Complaints can also be filed on the phone helpline