Skilli makes self-employment easier for freelancers and service providers.
1) Tell us about yourselves.
Skilli consists of four founders. We are a close group of friends formulating a group of aspiring entrepreneurs and creative thinkers. Our Founder and CEO, Karshil Desai has a background in industrial automation and programming, while bringing past experience of managing an association of 200+ members as a VP for 3 years. Ankit Patel, CMO, was previously a project manager with TransCanada managing a portfolio of 20+M, with a background in mechanical engineering. Sara Mir, CCO, brings the creative touch to our team while leading the entire branding team for our company. Sara has previously started product lines and has [previously] managed the branding of many companies leading to successful brand recognition. Shawn Moghaddami, PRO, is a critical thinker and with his charismatic persona, he acts as the first point of contact for our company and leads the Public Relations team. We all come from different backgrounds and we all compliment each other for what we bring to the table.
2) What problem have you solved?
The huge increase in people who are working for themselves over the past five years has been quite evident with the rise in the gig economy. In fact, there are estimated 57.3 Million people freelancing this year in the US alone. Most people, however, are still using traditional ways of working for themselves. To find clients people are either relying on the word of mouth, or posting ads on classifieds like Kijiji to list their services.
Managing many administrative tasks of their self-run businesses takes time and effort; while lesser of that goes towards performance and growth. We created a platform where anyone can easily monetize their skills or interests, and earn a living through sustainable self-employment. We plan to build a community of skilled professionals through social empowerment.
3) How do you solve such a problem?
We tackled this problem by understanding the “pain points” of the millions of people who are already working for themselves. Survey results found that the Service Providers expended time answering phone calls to schedule appointments, creating invoices and collecting payments, while gaining recognition for their work and increasing their client portfolio was a whole other challenge.
We wanted to resolve all the “pain points” so that the Service Providers can focus on doing good work, gaining recognition while increasing clients and making more money. We created a comprehensive mobile application which provides users with integrated tools to manage their business. They just have to create a free service listing which describes their skills, availability and rate for clients to find them. It also offers every user the ability to hire verified, certified and community endorsed skilled professionals.
Customers can scroll through a list of local providers to find one that suits their needs and is able to do the work at a competitive price. Once the job is completed, customers can review their invoice and pay for their service via the app!
4) When did you notice this gap in the market?
We noticed a gap in the market when we noticed the issue from both ends of the spectrum. While living in Fort McMurray, I noticed that there was not an easy way to book a service. So I went on Kijiji and made some phone calls to finally book an appointment. However, I wasn't sure who was going to walk through my door, and if they would be any good at what they do. I also never received an invoice, nor could I leave any reviews; it was not a good experience.
Similarly, I have met many people in the past few years who work for themselves, but face the challenges I described earlier. It is difficult to work for yourself and manage all the administrative work simultaneously. Many peers have expressed their need for a better tool to manage their administrative tasks. So, we decided to create it!
5) What is your company culture?
All of our employees have unique personalities and bring unique qualities to our team. We enforce the culture of responsibility and freedom. We hold ourselves responsible for our contribution and are always focused on the bigger picture. It's easy to collaborate with each other when everyone is aware of what is expected and is focused on the end goal. We don't believe in micro-management, so we hold each other accountable to produce at the highest level possible. Freedom of creativity and honesty are the biggest values that we practice actively at Skilli.
6) What has your experience been like with The Accelerator program?
Our experience with The Accelerator has been excellent. We didn't know what to expect going into the program, but I can confidently say at this point that we have gained a lot of value from this program. We have made some really good connections in the business ecosystem within Calgary and have gained substantial insight on our business strategies. We were connected with our mentor, Nav Dhunay through The Accelerator, who is now an advisor on Skilli’s Board of Advisors. Nav Dhunay has been an amazing mentor and continues to provide great value for our company.
7) What was the biggest lesson you learned throughout your experience with The Accelerator?
We have learned many lessons throughout The Accelerator program, but the major takeaways have been about raising capital and being in front of investors. Raising capital can be very personal to investors and being aware of the impact caused by different deal structures is extremely important before bringing on investors.
8) What has been a major accomplishment for you in 2018?
The major accomplishment in 2018 has been completing the minimum viable product (MVP) of our software and putting together the plans for the next upgrade. We have a great team of people who are constantly working towards improvement and ensuring that we move quickly after our launch. We have overcome some hurdles in development and have been able to accomplish the completion of our product this year.
9) What is next for you?
We have major plans for expansion in the near future. The Skilli app will get additional features to help service providers with expenses, taxes and mileage tracking. Improvements in the user interface, technology, and branding will be an ongoing process. We plan to grow throughout Canada and the United States in the near future.