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In every economy, there is a vast pool of talent that lies un-utilized, primarily because a significant portion of the skilled workforce is unable to fit into the conventional way of working, the 9-to-5 job environment.
These individuals often struggle to find work that would mold and adapt itself and happily coexist with their other commitments. And then there are organizations that are gradually discovering the benefits of hiring flexi workers. The urgent need is for a meeting ground where the two can find each other.
That is where an enterprise like Krow comes in, a place that connects employers with multi skilled professionals who cannot or do not want to take up regular jobs.
To know more, we caught up with Narayan Krishnaswamy, Co-Founder of Krow.in, a job marketplace for working professionals, students, home makers and retired folks looking for flexi jobs.
The Birth of Krow, a Different Look at Work
Back in 2010, my friend Darshan and I used to run an HR capability firm called Talking Heads and that was where we met Anilesh Seth who was heading SuperValu in India. Supervalu sold out to TCS and we joined forces. The idea of building an on-demand skill deployment platform was born and there was a common vision to do it online. Darshan and I had the skills in recruitment and understood the world of employment intimately. Anilesh had run large organizations and brought scaling businesses, as a skill, to the table.
We drew out workflows and got the site developed with a technology partner. We thought of many names and settled on Krow, which is WORK spelled backwards. Our tagline says we are a different look at work and Krow is precisely that.
We are trying to alter the relationship between man and work by making flexible working a reality for all those who desire it. We are a team of people with diverse skills who respect each other unconditionally and are on a common path with a goal to change the way the world works by exploding the flexi work economy. As you can understand, that is a tall order and requires work on multiple fronts. From educating companies to making use of innovative talent sourcing to finding flexi folks the job of their dreams, the spectrum is vast.
Ultimately, our vision is a world where a large segment of very talented and multi skilled people work for who they want, at the price they want and where they want. And companies get to feed into a large talent pool not only just in time but also just FOR time. By doing this we will be fulfilling the need for every productive hour in the economy.
Anilesh Seth, CEO and Co-Founder, is from IIT Madras and IIM Bangalore. He has 23 years of experience in companies such as Qatalys, LGsoft and SuperValu. Darshan Chinnappa is our head of operations and has worked at Tesco and Firstsource solutions in operations and HR roles. He has a degree from XLRI. Satish Gopalkrishnan aka Yogi, is our CTO and is from IIT Madras and is a rare engineering talent. He is also the current Indian National Rally Champion in the TSD category. He has worked at Infosys, Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Onmobile in a host of tech leadership roles. I take care of Marketing and Customer Acquisition. I am a graduate of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai and have worked at Tesco, Accenture and Firstsource.
Our draws into entrepreneurship at a common level are that it gives us an opportunity to stand for something, to create a marketplace and hopefully, build something new, timeless and in tune with our respective contexts.
What is Flexi work?
A flexi job is where an individual has the freedom to choose their work hours and the load of work they want to undertake at a given time. Flexi jobs can be of types –
Part time: You work on certain days of the week, say, a Monday and Wednesday.
Project based: You work on a time bound project for let’s say a quarter or 6 months.
Flexi work is for women on career breaks, students looking for part time work, retired people who have hours to offer, regular jobbers looking to supplement their income, the list goes on. These people are turbo productive and can deliver jobs at outstanding quality levels.
And then there are people like me. The slightly edgy ones….folks for whom cycling from Bangalore to Ladakh, spending an hour a day at the gym, rock climbing, learning a new skill are pursuits that need to be done today and not at some unsure future date “after the money has been taken care of”. These are the people looking for alternative work arrangements.
And lastly, Flexi work is not the poorer cousin of full time work. It is the way the world will work in the future.
How does hiring a Flexi worker benefit a Business?
Well, first of all, * he is available just in time and just for time. In other words he will not bother you with a career plan or make his need for promotions and career advancements, your chief worry.
He is turbo productive: Flexi workers believe time is genuinely money and they are religious about opportunity costs. They are there to get the job done as fast as you want to get it done. They also want to make the best use of their own time. They know their stuff and will get the job done, fast.
He has no indirect costs associated with his candidature – Just pay him his negotiated due and that’s all. No seat costs, no payroll costs, no cafeteria costs etc. (Makes sense to give him cafeteria food on the same terms as your full timers, though).
He will onboard quickly – They are free of the notice period malaise, once the terms are agreed, he can commence work immediately.
He is multi terrain– Experienced flexi workers have seen most kinds of companies in your space and are like all-terrain vehicles that can navigate most office environments at acceptable levels of competence.
* By he I mean both men and women. In fact women make up almost 50% of the number of flexi workers registered with us.
How is Krow different from other job sites such as Naukri, Elance, Freelancer and the likes?
Naukri is in the full time hiring space while Elance and Freelancer focus on the virtual work market. They are not associated with hyper localization. So, yes, our similarity is that we are all in the employment space. But no one is working in the hyper local, specialized, just for time space, the way we are.
At Krow, someone living in, let’s say, South Extension in Delhi can find a flexi job in their vicinity. One, this saves on commuting time, and second, it gives a freelancer an opportunity to work away from home from time to time without committing to a full time job. We are here to serve individuals and companies locally. That is what sets us apart from the usual hiring platform.
Add to that our technology and we are quite different and unique in the way we address the opportunity. In terms of jobs we have done roles across SEM, SEO, content writing, finance, HR, tech development, customer service, executive roles in various domains and even a head of HR and finance role.
In fact, technology is the bedrock of what we do. We are working on evolving our job matching algorithm to the realm of becoming genuinely intelligent. So, the algorithm, our business rules engine, our engagement strategy and our business canvas, together, give us the edge.
Krow and Startups
Startups are a big favorite on Krow. There are tons of them in India working out of garages, rooms in houses, rooms in uncles’ and friends’ houses, small offices, incubators, serviced offices and campuses. Krow is here to give all startups an access to talent on demand. Whether you need a person to work with you on lead gen, make an adobe illustrator visual, shoot a film, make a brochure, blog, manage your SEM/SEO, manage accounting, research, build a website, work on Java, PHP, ESB and what have you, they are all on Krow. We add opportunities to our site by the hour.
What has Krow learnt in the past two years?
Well a key learning has been to have a high pain threshold and keep reminding ourselves that we are in this for the long haul.
As a startup, and particularly as an enterprise that wants to gradually change popular notions, you should be cool with postponing gratification. It will come, but it will take its own sweet time. Many people are not sure whether this will work but we are convinced 100% and that’s why we are here. We are not exit oriented, we are here and we plan to stay.
The Next Big Flight
The opportunity is clearly global but we are approaching it cautiously. The fact that we are online enables us to be location agnostic and we will hopefully get to a stage where customers from all over India and then Asia and then the world can use us. If we build a vibrant offering and an interesting brand, it will happen. We have all the skills and access to resources.
So far, Krow has been funded from our savings. See there are two kinds of investors – one who will fund an existing enterprise, for example an ecommerce business, and the other who will bet on a new idea – those are the guys we are after. We are doing some very interesting things with our approach to funding which is work in progress for now.
About targets, we had to ask ourselves, are we selling dvd players online? Then we could say, we will sell these many sets in these many months. But here, it’s about creating a market. While we do set and achieve internal milestones, because of the space we are in, it will take some time; we are category leaders for sure in India.
Krow is for individuals who believe work is one of the many things they do and ultimately all work is some form of skill deployment. There should be a platform that enables that on both sides – one where Great flexi jobs meet great flexi seekers.
If you look around, you will see that people are looking at an alternative to work as we know it. And that’s a good sign, isn’t it!
During the course of this intriguing conversation, we learnt that Narayan is also an avid writer. In his latest post at the Krow blog, he says Flexi is an old jargon, they should just call it Krow. Well, very soon, they just might.
LifeBeyondNumbers wishes Krow all the best in their persistent endeavor to redefine the way the world works.