There are various freelancing marketplaces around us, each a replica of the other. Hardly anyone has tried to re-engineer the model to address the pertinent issues. Improving upon an existing idea is as hard as creating something out of thin air. It requires an acute gift for identifying the exact problem and solving it. The founders of the freelance platform InstaTaskers are, thankfully, adept at both.
It’s no news that the freelancing sector in India lacks regulations and structure. There are over 1 million skilled freelancers in the country; most at a loss for finding good work. Startups willing to hire these freelancers sometimes don’t know where to look! InstaTaskers, based in Mumbai and catering to the freelancers and businesses across India, aims to bring in structure to this field. Their aim: create a trusted, transparent platform for employers and freelancers alike.
InstaTaskers is the brainchild of MBA graduates Ubika Dev (IIM-A, 2008) and Kunal Modi (NMIMS, 2013). It is recognized as a leading innovative startup by the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM). For those not in the know, the government’s AIM initiative promotes a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship and is a part of the Niti Aayog. This accolade has obviously meant a lot for Ubika and Kunal who started InstaTaskers in 2016. Like most good things in life, the idea for their venture came to them after a conversation with friends. It made them realize the difficulty startups face when hiring skilled experts. Some digging later, they realized that there is a huge trust deficit in this sector. The talent pool worries about payments; the startups about finding the right fit. This atmosphere of distrust and disrespect was the first hurdle for InstaTaskers.
Once Ubika and Kunal had pinpointed the issues, they attacked each with a foolproof plan. To create trust, InstaTaskers only lists curated freelancers post verification. Unlike other platforms, InstaTaskers has done away with bidding for projects. This helps startups find experts without delays. It also allows freelancers (or Taskers) to negotiate deals better.
More important is the payment method InstaTaskers uses to minimize flight risk. For each task, the payment is made in advance to the InstaTaskers team. They hold the money until the job finishes. Thus, there is less chance of either an employer or a freelancer going awol.
Over the last two years, InstaTaskers have fine-tuned their curation and payment process. The end result: over 1500 Taskers and 1500 completed projects! Initial hiccups aside, they have fast become the go-to solution for early-stage startups.
Well, we already told you that both Ubika and Kunal are products of the best MBA colleges in the country. What we could also add is that they, too, left plush jobs to follow their hearts. In 2016, Ubika was part of the strategy team at the prestigious Lodha Group. Kunal was learning the ropes of the banking world at ICICI. When the startup bug bit though, it bit both of them hard!
The decision to quit must have been hard. Says Ubika, “We realized that there was a desperate need in the market for a trusted platform of this kind. Startup founders – in the lean stage – usually don many hats. It is hard for them to interview candidates and fill up short-term positions. Working with freelancers is usually very rewarding. There are many ideas and much experience at the table, and the company is better for it! So, we decided to make the process easier. This allows both the startups and freelancers to enjoy working together.”
“We had bad days like everyone else,” adds Kunal. “We knew we had a great idea, but we had to come up with a proof of concept. There was also a chicken-and-egg dilemma. Should we hire freelancers first or should we approach companies with our pitch? In time we found solutions for everything. We have even perfected the hiring process. Only the most relevant Taskers are introduced to clients for a ‘task’ posted on our platform. We don’t take any shortcuts in our work and ensure that our Taskers don’t take any either. We want to grow, but not at the cost of quality.”
This obsession with perfection and quality is the core of this bootstrapped startup. “We are proud of our Taskers and their skills. We also use their services for tasks we cannot complete in-house,” says Ubika.
Bringing order to the chaotic Indian freelancing industry isn’t easy. Yet, these two make it look like pie. Their client list includes Asian Paints, Pepperfry, Toppr, and HDIL. No doubt that InstaTaskers has made significant headway into the SME community. They aim to build on the momentum they have achieved and add more Taskers as well as startups to their roster. All this while maintaining their laser-like focus on quality, their knack for finding easy solutions for the hardest of problems, and their never-give-up attitude.
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