Service provider support for the digitalised world

Mila: Help for the connected home

Whether it’s a new tablet, an intelligent refrigerator, or a complete smart home: in our everyday lives, we have to deal with more and more technical
devices. Operating them can be difficult, and competent help is hard to find. When something doesn’t work, a specialist with the right know-how to
help you on the spot is worth their weight in gold. The Zurich-based start-up Mila, an on-demand marketplace for tech services, aims to offer the right
service technician for every problem. “If a customer needs help installing a technical device, setting up a computer or expanding their smart home
system, they can find the right service providers on Mila”, says Christian Viatte, founder and CEO of Mila AG.

Both professional contractors, e.g. technicians, computer scientists and electricians, and sideline service providers, the socalled “Friends”, are listed on the platform. “Who performs the service is decided by the system depending on the task”, says Viatte.
In this way, requests can be served in a very targeted manner. From the client’s point of view, he says, it is crucial that the task at hand be solved. “We believe very much in the development of the connected home”, affirms Viatte. All devices in the home are increasingly connected, he says, and customers need a swift, attractively priced service. Mila’s technicians are either requested via industry and retail partners such as Bosch, Otto, Amazon or Freenet when their end customers need support with a product, or booked by the customer directly, B2C, via the website.

Management buy-out and international venture capitalists

Before founding the start-up, Viatte had worked for ten years at Swisscom, Switzerland’s largest telecommunications company, including five years as Head of Service Experience and Innovation. “At the time, we were thinking about which service models could help the group reduce costs, generate revenue through paid service offerings, and increase customer satisfaction in the process”, says Viatte. Initially conceived as a neighbourhood
help service, the start-up Mila was born in 2016 with Swisscom as the main investor. The concept was a hit. After its initial focus on Switzerland, Mila soon expanded to other countries. “But it proved difficult to scale internationally with the set-up we had at the time”, Viatte remembers. To make the most of the growth opportunities, he acquired all of Swisscom’s shares in an MBO in 2020. He then brought Alpana Ventures from Switzerland, as well as Oriza Ventures and Plug and Play Ventures from Silicon Valley on board to drive growth together with the new investors.

Pre-series A with the Heilbronn-based seed fund Born2Grow followed at the beginning of 2022. “We were particularly impressed by Christian and his team’s clear strategy and their market successes to date”, says investment manager Andrea Muth. Mila is especially good at anticipating market needs and meeting customer expectations. The network behind Born2Grow could help to establish contacts to further B2B partners in the future, in Germany, and internationally.

Focus on market access and sales

Mila is hardly known among end customers so far. “In terms of growth, we are first concentrating on market access via industry partners and on turnover; only in the second step do we want to make the brand known to end customers”, says Viatte. One important lesson learned so far, he says, has been not to enter many new markets at the same time. “For each market you need a certain amount of manpower, and you have to build that up.” Mila’s services are now available in Switzerland, Germany, France, Austria, and England. Competitors include TechBuddy from Munich, HelloTech from the USA and Deutsche Technikberatung, which belongs to Ceconomy. Viatte believes Mila is well-positioned for further growth. His goal is to make Mila the global leader in tech support. Investors can still join in the current financing round. The series A is to follow in 2023.

- This article was published in the VentureCapital Magazin on page 78.