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From H4 visa to founder of 99Artisans: Priya Jupudi breaks free of her shackles

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Jupudi’s startup is based in Utah.

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An Indian woman, who was on a dependent H4 visa in the US till recently, but became eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) wok permit after President Barack Obama’s executive actions came into effect, and allowed some dependents of H-1B visa holders to do so, has now turned entrepreneur in Utah, with a startup called 99Artisans.

In an e-mail to The American Bazaar, Priya Jupudi described herself as a young mom and home-maker who had been in the country for the last four years after she emigrated from India. She is the mother of two children, and has an MBA from India.

“I am from India and I am fairly new to the US, a young mom and had been a home maker/dependent of H-1B visa holder for the last 4 years, until the law of the land permitted dependents to apply for EAD. Inspired by various women that started up new businesses, I too started 99Artisans, to improve the quality of lives for many contractors, Service professionals in home improvement projects, academic, music & fitness instructors, artists and many more,” wrote Jupudi.

Based in Utah, 99Artisans (https://www.99artisans.com) is an online marketplace for professional services, which tries to help customers find and hire the professionals at the price that’s right for them.

“Whether a person is looking to decorate their home, get healthier through yoga, have candid photos of their wedding clicked, get a plumbing job done or plan their kid’s birthday party, we like to be that perfect platform to meet their service needs,” explained Jupudi in her e-mail.

99Artisans was launched in October. It plans to roll out local services in the five most populous cities in each state in the US, according to Jupudi.

“We are focusing on increasing memberships in those cities,” Jupudi said, adding that the company will expand to smaller cities as it grows. “We’re very excited to anchor 99Artisans in major cities in every state in the country.”

She noted that the U.S. has millions of self-employed service entrepreneurs.

Unlike competitors such as Angie’s List and Thumbtack, 99Artisans is a truly free marketplace, said Jupudi.

“It’s totally free and we’re not charging a dime to use it,” Jupudi said.

The company will in the future be offering some premium extras as well, such as assisted hiring and higher visibility in search results, but they will not be necessary to use the essential core services.

She said there are four ways to use the service: as a professional offering services; as a professional bidding on projects posted by customers; as a customer offering projects for professionals to bid on; and as a customer who accepts services offered by a professional.

People signing up with 99Artisans as service providers, instructors or artists can offer their services in categories such as home improvement, home services, lessons and classes, parties and events, online jobs, creative work, or look for projects posted by customers. Member reviews help keep other members informed about the quality of work provided.

Customers can create projects, choose professionals who look promising, and wait for competitive bids to start coming in, or they can search for services offered by professionals.

“Our vision is to make it super easy to find new opportunities, empower professionals to earn a stable, healthy income through dignified work, and break the cycle of poverty through sustainable job creation,” Jupudi said. “99Artisans aspires to make hiring a professional super easy and straightforward.”