“Kongge” means “empty space” in English. Its name implies a blank space waiting to be filled on a grid or form. The app allows individual people to make money by sharing skills, knowledge and other resources over an internet platform.The app landed RMB 100 million (USD 15.27 million) in investment last September, a mere 60 days after it first went online.
“Services are no less indispensable than goods,” said Kongge founder and CEO, Tang Yongbo, alluding to his four-year stint working at Alibaba as a senior manager. “We encourage service providers to share their skills and help them receive more orders by linking customers directly with services.”
Kongge links services to customers by location
“The sharing economy makes nationwide entrepreneurship possible, and a business model of service-to-customer (S2C) will be the mainstream for the coming decade,” Tang told AllChinaTech.
The story began when Tang’s wife wanted to have her eyebrows tattooed: she found a suitable eyebrow tattoo artist in Beijing via WeChat; the artist then flew to Hangzhou to provide the service, charging RMB 3,000. Tang thought that the whole affair was outrageous, but when he found out that many of his friends had similar difficult experiences searching for online services, he realized that a platform would fill this need by seamlessly linking services to customers.
Before long, Tang and Kongge’s 13 other co-founders, most of whom once held high positions in Alibaba, built this app.
On the platform, users can publish a service by briefly describing what they can offer, before setting their available time, acceptable rate, and suitable service area.
Data collected at the end of this March shows that the platform now has nearly 600 types of services, and attracts three million monthly active users. Services include gourmet cooking, psychological counseling, housekeeping and tutoring, among others.
The three most popular services are accompaniment services, customized freehand sketching, and divination. Accompaniment services involve a customer paying a modest fee of a few dollars per hour to chat or hang out. Divination would include tarot card readings, I-Ching consulting, and palmistry.
To ensure safe transactions, Kongge works with Ant Financial’s credit score system to ensure that the service providers’ reliability is shown. Additionally, insurance can be purchased for transactions made on the app, enhancing the platform’s reliability and helping protect consumers from fraud or other problems.
This March, Kongge introduced a new product that translates to “smart life services”. The project views a campus, an office building, a community, or a business district as a unit. In this way, location-based services (LBS) such as cleaning and maintenance will gather together, forming a “a supermarket of services” all within a stone’s throw of one another.
Serving entrepreneurs with its “1·3·5 Plan”
Positioning itself as a platform serving individual service providers, Kongge initiated the “1·3·5 Plan” last September: “1” represents its goal of covering 100 million service providers in five years, “3” means the project’s aim to involve 300 million people in total, and “5” stands for the total RMB 50 million that the platform is offering to selected individual entrepreneurs to boost their business ventures (and raise the profile of Kongge in the process).
Kongge’s first target group of providers are individuals who are not necessarily professionals, but can nonetheless perform a specific skill. These people include white-collar workers, blue-collar workers, students, the elderly, and the vulnerable.
Although it will also incorporate professional services in the future, the first thing first is to help people create whatever value they can. “Starting a business must somehow contribute to society, and Kongge does this by tapping individuals’ potential, as long as they have skills, resources, and time,” said Tang.
Having covered the cities of Beijing, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Wuhan, Changsha, Chengdu, Nanjing, Suzhou, Shenzhen and Xiamen, Kongge will continue expanding to cover a total of 35 cities within this year.
(Top photo screened from app Kongge)