“Movies like Eat Pray Love, Tamasha, and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara leave us with some rather unrealistic travel expectations. I mean, unless you have truckloads of money and are willing to take a really long sabbatical!” exclaims 32-year-old Shantanu, a marketing executive.
This is possibly a lamentation shared by most people; travelling and pursuing one’s hobbies and passion can be time-consuming and expensive. It was something that 38-year-old Geetha Prabhu faced. An avid traveller, Geetha has travelled to over 10 countries and has plans for plenty more journeys in the future.
Most times, she would look for jobs on a consulting or freelance basis so that she could work and travel side by side. However, this mother of a nine-year-old was unable to find anything suitable. Considering that Geetha had over 16 years of experience in market research, it isn’t surprising that she pursued the problem with a business mindset. This was when she decided to start Workflexi.
Finding the market
Bengaluru-based Workflexi is a platform that follows a work-at-will model, for contract employees, mentors and consultants. It is exclusively for senior consultants with above 15 years of experience, the reason being, according to Geetha, twofold. Firstly, Geetha felt that such individuals might not be interested in full-time jobs, and secondly, they may have also reached the self-actualisation stage, being content with where they are.
However, being a market researcher, Geetha knew that she had to have the right data and market analysis to gauge whether the idea was feasible if there was any market that could support the idea.
Explaining her findings, Geetha says,
“We found a market. Deloitte had come out with a statistic that in three years, 70 percent of the millennials will quit their jobs to do what they love passionately, scorning corporate jobs. We wanted to validate this, and when we were incubated with NASSCOM, we had our validation; a startup here is consulting with us on marketing, while they are simultaneously pursuing their own endeavours.”
Building the team
Geetha found her co-founder Sandesh Kangod in an interesting manner. She had posted a question on staffing on the Bangalore Startups page on Facebook, and Sandesh answered the question. Explaining how they met, Sandesh says,
“One thing led to another, and we ended up meeting. At that point, I was working with CareerBuilder in sales. She offered me the chance to join her, but I was not ready to quit my job. While Geetha and I shared perspectives, her trying to look for a job to support her travelling while I was also looking for a job where I could follow my passion, the problem was the fact that I had to pay my EMI.”
However, Sandesh’s work eventually became mundane, and being passionate about writing, directing and acting, he ended up directing a short movie. It was then that Sandesh really decided that he wanted to do something of his own. Geetha, meanwhile, had gone on to build a prototype. It was then that the two of them happened to meet at NASSCOM.
“We figured that we were on the same page. I had quit my job to follow my passion, and I felt that there were many people like us out there, looking for such a platform, and I ended up joining her,” says 32-year-old Sandesh. Soon, the core team size grew to four, with Manish Kataria, who has over 12 years of work experience, and Sameer Kakar, who brings with him over seven years of experience in digital marketing, joining the team.
Once you get on the platform, you can sign in as a contract job seeker, a consultant or a mentor. Once signed in, the platform allows you to search for jobs that might interest you. After you have decided on a particular job, you can express interest, thus intimating the employer.
On the employer front, he/she can log in using the platform and search for contract employees, and also post relevant jobs.
“We will also help job seekers follow their passion while guiding them to pay their EMIs off,” says Sandesh.
The product was launched on July 4 this year, and the team claims to have had three paid corporate customers, and over 2,800 contract, mentor and consultant job seekers, with the company growing at 30 percent month-on-month.
The market and differentiator
The work-by-the-hour concept is fast picking up across India. According to a recently published report by ManpowerGroup, 58 percent of Indian employers find it difficult to get the right kind of technical talent. According to reports by the Wall Street Journal published last year, the cost of hires is increasing drastically in India.
For technical talent, there are HackerEarth, HackerRank, Stockroom and DeveloperOnRent. Globally, there is also the platform Gigster, which is considered to be an Uber for developers. However, Sandesh adds that WorkFlexi is a Work-at-Will, offering employees the opportunity to take up jobs on a flexible basis while providing employers with a means of access to skilled manpower.
“To keep it clear, we are not a platform for freelancers. We are entirely a platform for contract and mentors/consultants. Our revenue predominantly comes from B2B (Enterprise) for now, with Rs 12,000 per year as subscription,” says Sandesh.
Though currently bootstrapped, the team intends to raise investment to further enhance their product and build on the app.
“We are in the process of building artificial intelligence to capture job seeker behaviour, preference on travel distance, jobs that they would want to take up, and the companies that they would want to be associated with. We want to launch the product in the Middle East and the APAC region, as the market there is growing by leaps and bounds,” explains Sandesh.