Startups

InstaTaskers – Building a Home for the Best of India’s Freelancers

Instataskers

A web development team in one of India’s biggest metropolitan cities had for decades scouted international markets for clients. The reason they did so, was because they had begun to believe that the Indian consumer had no appreciation for quality and were not willing to pay an amount in tandem with the work they asked for. Today, the same company gets 20% of their revenue from the Indian market alone.

This turnaround is just one of the success stories that was made possible by InstaTaskers. Ours is a start-up that in its very first year of inception has brought together over 1200 freelancers and 900 businesses. In the Indian freelance industry that is filled with chaos and a rampant lack of organization, we at InstaTaskers have only one motto – to match the right talent with the right need.

Why we started Instataskers?

Everyone asks you the ‘how’ behind your company’s creation. For InstaTaskers, I believe the ‘why’ is much more important. After completing my MBA from the Narsee Monjee Institute, Bangalore, I saw all the friends around me starting up their own business. Truth be told, I, too, wanted to join the fad but I was not sure about my ‘idea’. It was during my interactions with them, that I realised there was paucity of quality professionals at the right price. My friends would often crib about them and that is exactly why InstaTaskers came about – maybe as an attempt to get them to shut up! We started in April 2016, and so far, I believe we have done a great job of bringing the cribbing down to a minimum.

Oh, but we had false starts!

Yes, like every other start-up out there, we dreamt of fitting into boots too big for our feet and ran into team issues quite early on. This taught us to work closely with people we trusted, and follow our mothers’ advice about not being too pally with strangers! So far, we have learned that there are four basic skills that the start-up team should have internally to grow properly – operations, technology, marketing and finance/accounting. These skills are the four wheels of your start-up vehicle and all the four must move in tandem for the business to grow. It is important to have these skills in-house at the very outset, and then how you go from here decides whether your start-up becomes a Lamborghini, or a fatfatiya!

I have also learned that great team members are as rare as gems, and if you ever see potential in someone always try to get them onboard. However, as intuitive as your gut may be, for the sake of your business you must try to see if you can work together before offering equity or a full-time role. It is just good business sense.

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It is also good business sense to value add constantly.

There is a stark difference between the B2B and B2C setup. In the past year, I have understood well that when dealing with businesses, packaging works only if there is substance inside. I believe all businesses and start-ups should have a focused approach to value addition. The fluff can still wait.

How did we apply this same principle to our work at InstaTaskers? Let us see. As a company, we revamped our website only recently (on our first anniversary) but we have been adamant about improving our curation process since day one, and the process today lets only the genuine Taskers get through. When we started, we also did not emphasise much on advance payments. We quickly learnt that The World can change overnight for the Client or the Tasker. There were also cases where Clients would commission complex projects critical for their business but, in due course, the business model would change and they never cared to pay for the effort our freelancers put in. In such cases, we lost face – and faith –  with the Tasker. Now, we have learnt to work on strictly advance payments – and this value add has helped both our Clients as well as our Taskers trust us more. If there was a piece of advice that I would give to new brands, it would be this – focus on your ‘idea’ all you want, but do not forget to substantiate that with a product that works.

It has indeed been a long first year!

We have had our hits and misses (a lot of them, in fact!), and we have learnt valuable lessons. But what keeps us going is the success stories we have been able to effect.

This is verbatim from an email from one of our Tasker who quit her corporate job for her duties as a mother but was desperate to continue working somehow – “I don’t know how to put this but must say that InstaTaskers is the best thing that has happened to me, especially when I was in a desperate need for something to boost my self-esteem and morale. The writing assignments that guys shared with me pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me to learn a lot… you trusted me and shared the best leads with me and I am totally indebted for that. Be it negotiations or payments I never ever faced any issues.”

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We had a Client who had been struggling to keep his business afloat. He had the typical dilemma young businesspeople face – he had to continue his job for financial security even though the business was not generating enough money to hire or attract a co-founder. On the verge of closing his business, he found InstaTaskers. We connected him to quality Taskers who could add value to his business while keeping his costs low, and now his business has enough traction that he is planning to leave his job and focus full time

There have also been two cases so far where the Client liked working with the Tasker so much that they ended up business partners. There have also been multiple cases where our Taskers have been hired for full time roles by the Clients. This ties in with the ‘why’ I mentioned earlier – stories like these tell us that we are on the right path.

We have been seriously thinking of the future.

And boy, do we have plans! We finished the first year with breaking even, and we are now looking for scaling up. Team building is high on our priority and while this does not mean we will have a large team soon, we are on the lookout for quality people. We target to maintain a lean team of fewer than 10 people for the foreseeable future. A perk of running about with awesome freelancers – we can always augment bandwidth with our Taskers and ask them to take up key projects.

We have already made great strides in the start-up sector and it is a feeling of pride to be the go-to solution for this industry. Over next two years, we plan to penetrate the SME sector in India. That is a segment which needs a lot of our services, has great paying capacity but may not know the right resources to get things done. We believe that we can add significant value there. The lessons we have learnt in this past year, and the might of our talent pool should help us make inroads into this segment easily. Until then, Task On!


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