Speaking to All Things Talent, Girish Kukreja, Founder and CEO of FlexC discusses early hiring bottlenecks in a startup, the gig economy and changing workforce, and how FlexC is helping organizations transition to the new Hybrid Workforce Model.
1. As a startup, what are the biggest bottlenecks in hiring in the early stages and how can they be worked on?
Hiring for a startup is like doing the sales pitch of your ideas to your future employees. Since the organization is still new, one of the key bottlenecks is the reputation of the CEO and co-founders at stake. Hence, relying on referrals is much better than trying to attract talent directly. Another bottleneck is attracting the right value for money especially in the case of the bootstrap venture. You need the right talent at a reasonable price because every penny saved will go into business. I suggest going with a combination of senior-level and fresher candidates who are diligent and will stick for the long term.
2. How do diversity and inclusion play a part in the early days of startup hiring to make it a more inclusive workplace?
I believe having diversity in the founding team will bring varied opinions to the table from the conceptualization stage itself. For every organization, diversity and inclusion both are more self-driven principles than a standard rule book to be followed. However, companies should not achieve diversity at the cost of skill-set. Nor should they differentiate between genders based on pay and cerebral opportunity. At the time of hiring, every candidate should be given an equal chance to put their best foot forward, but the selection should be made solely on the basis of their skills and not on gender.
3. While hiring gig workers, what do startups look for the most in the initial stages and how are the demands met?
During the initial stage, every startup experiments and looks for value. If the scope of what needs to be done is clear, working with the gig workforce helps in experimenting, getting new-age skills, timely execution, and value for money. The gig is all about the outputbased model and for startups, throughput is more important. The demand for the right talent can be met either through references or through the talent marketplace platforms like FlexC and our competitions.
4. The gig economy is on the rise. How does that benefit a start-up while hiring in the initial stage?
The gig economy is definitely on the rise as the internet and digital technologies have expedited the democratization of work. Also, the gig is all about challenges and freedom of work, which the Gen-Z & Millennials are used to during their growth stage. As I mentioned above, experimentation, getting complementary skills at the right value are the key benefits startups can seek from the gig economy.
During the initial stage, every startup experiments and looks for value. If the scope of what needs to be done is clear, working with the gig workforce helps in experimenting, getting new-age skills, timely execution, and value for money.
5. Does FlexC also employ gig workers for their services apart from giving them a platform to reach out to organizations?
We are into a gig economy business and our first principle was to ‘internalize’ rather than just selling. It was not easy because we are trained to have people at hand rather than carve out work and get executed from a gig workforcelike model. But at the peak, we had more than 50% of people employed as gig workers
6. Could you give us an overview of the growth of the marketplace as a business model for talent needs?
Almost everyone is talking about Hybrid Workplaces. It is the next big thing HR has to think about. In 2020, 43% of the US workforce was employed in freelancing, and as per Forbes, $1 Trillion is estimated to be spent by companies on the contingent workforce by 2025. India has to follow suit. With more GenZs searching “how to become a freelancer” on Google every day, it is clear that the world is heading towards a freelance revolution. The new need of the hour is hiring and managing the hybrid workforce including Contractors and Freelancers. We at FlexC are addressing this market, helping organizations transition to this new Hybrid workforce Model.
As I said, classified/job portals were good innovations for hiring during the early 2000s. Right now the business is all about networks. A platform like FlexC has a good network of organizations, contractors, freelancers, and HR agencies that get to look at the channel of demand and supply on the platform.
7. Based on the initial growth numbers, where does a majority of the growth is coming from? Be it sectorwise, skill-wise, or startup/corporates?
In our journey so far, our initial focus was on creating a digital platform with AI capabilities which is almost a market fit. The second stage was to get the right supply of consultants for organizations to come and hire. Currently, we are in our third stage, where we have seen our model work in 1x, and are working towards making this 10x. At present, our platform has more than 15K+ consultants with 200+ skills, 200+ agencies for our talent aggregation model and 500+ organizations. Sectorwise, IT and finance have been our focus as recruitments in IT rose by at least 15 percent during the pandemic. Our focus so far has been on startups and mid-tier organizations. With that working, we have now started to go for large corporations and are seeing good traction.
8. From classifieds to the marketplace, how do job seekers and contractors ensure that results are met? How does the SAAS platform ensure that?
As I said, classified/job portals were good innovations for hiring during the early 2000s. Right now the business is all about networks. A platform like FlexC has a good network of organizations, contractors, freelancers, and HR agencies that get to look at the channel of demand and supply on the platform. For instance, a YouTuber needs content and followers to create a reputation. Similarly, on this platform, one needs skills and ratings. We intend to ensure there is enough demand from the organization and enough supply to fulfil this demand. Our AI engine does the work of not only matching but complete activity monitoring to ensure contractors get the right project opportunities.
9. What are your growth expectations on how startups seek shared services (like shared CFO)?
There are enough roles in the organizations and startups that can either be shared or timebound such as content writing, digital marketing, and leadership roles like CFO as well. However, shared services of senior roles like CFO are currently sourced more through referrals or personal networks, rather than companies paying for the same. I think over time, the expectations from these roles and their market price will be much more mature for people to use them as a service model. Like anything in the digital age, it won’t take long enough for us to see this as a proven model.