Sean Shen

How digital innovation is de-bugging homes in China

Home should be a safe and healthy place where everyone can enjoy life every day. But in Shanghai, the climate means homes in this mega-city can be infested with pests like cockroaches, rodents, fleas, termites, for 9 months of the year, or even all year round for those using air-conditioning. China’s fragmented pest control industry focuses mainly on commercial rather than residential clients, but now, Environmental Science -Business Unit of Crop Science Division of Bayer- has developed an innovative solution to improve quality of life at home by helping people say goodbye to pests and live in healthy environments.

Our expertise across disciplines uniquely positions us to deliver more breakthrough innovation and our new ByePest home pest control service is a pioneer in many ways. Launched as a pilot program in Shanghai in June 2018 ByePest is the first direct Business-to-Consumer venture of Crop Science and uses cutting-edge digital technology to link qualified Pest Control Operators (PCO) with local residents facing problems with pests at home. It’s a little like the Uber or Airbnb of pest control, but backed by the Bayer brand and our extensive experience and expertise across disciplines.

In China, unlike in more mature markets like the US, pest control operators work almost exclusively business-to-business and consumers tend to use do-it-yourself solutions like aerosols purchased in-store to solve pest issues. The professional market is very fragmented, with the top ten players posting market share of around 3%, so to target consumers they would need to invest heavily in building brand awareness. At Bayer, we already have strong brand recognition, so we decided to set up a small cross-expertise team within Crop Science division in China to offer ByePest solution to consumers in Shanghai. We chose Shanghai as the first pilot city to run the experimentation phase because of its strong pest pressure, but also because it’s a digitally advanced city, with a strong startup environment and a lot of digital consumption and awareness, and a city with plenty of digital talent.

Sean Shen
Sean Shen
Sean Shen
Venture Lead - ByePest

// Every year around 30 million people suffer from asthma due to exposure to pests.

// 68% of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, where pests infestations are most dominant.

// Cockroaches are known to spread over 33 kinds of bacteria.

That suited our startup approach to ByePest. At Bayer, we are committed to offering people innovative solutions that will improve their quality of life. With this new venture we wanted to bring a new business model to life, move fast, to embrace the growing potential of more advanced solutions and digital tools. ByePest wants to offer an excellent support to citizens of Shanghai to protect their homes from pests and to pest-controllers in their mission of protecting public health. We began early stage IT development in June 2018 and spent less than two months building a simplified system, and by July/August we had acquired our first customers.

pest report
pest report
Creating integrated pest-management solutions helps professional customers to maintain healthy environments.

We had bugs in our first system in the test phase just as our customers had bugs in their homes, but the idea was to be bold enough to work with a minimum viable solution that covered the whole cycle. Then, work with feedback from both Pest Control Operators and the local residents on further development, to offer the best possible solution to all users to address pest challenges. As we are continually looking for the best possible service, we keep building on system bugs and customer feedback to improve our solution, for now and in the future! Today, ByePest means residents can call on a PCO via a range of online platforms including, WeChat, Tmall and the website. The backend system then links them up with a local technician with the skills and experience to suit the specific requirements of each job. All technicians work exclusively for ByePest and offer a high-level service, using a mobile app to check-in and out with consumers and write and send reports. The backend system also organizes routes for each technician according to their location and customer requests - and with 5 million households in Shanghai their next job is probably less than 5km away! All that means that ByePest offers a more efficient system to the professional operators in China, who often spend a quarter of their time traveling between clients and still send their reports on paper.

ByePest is a flexible and agile technology that never stops evolving, may it be by providing finer algorithm in routing and job allocation or a clearer dashboard to visualize business operations. Constant advancements are being evaluated to offer customers and users more effective service with the best possible experience, to ultimately improve quality of life for our residential customers.

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