Jun 22, 2021

Mayank Jain in conversation with Varun Duggirala on building solutions for the content gig economy

Mayank Jain in conversation with Varun Duggirala on building solutions for the content gig economy

Contents

Over the last few years, there has been a colossal growth in the gig economy, which encompassed the landscape of content writing and freelance content creators. This can be attributed to rapid digitalisation and transition of brands online.

Although, what remains consistent is the unavailability of skilled freelancers and a solution that addresses the needs of freelancers.

This extension thus evolved the need for marketplace solutions like Scalenut, where both brands and freelance content writers get to choose their projects and mitigate the challenges faced.

Meet Mayank Jain

Mayank Jain is the Co-Founder and CEO of Scalenut, a managed marketplace that combines human resource with AI-powered technology to serve customers across the globe.

Mayank is a proud entrepreneur, believes in the power of storytelling and helps businesses create success stories through Scalenut. He believes in the power of technology as a catalyst for seamless workflow and brand growth.

Meet Varun Duggirala

Varun Duggirala is a creative entrepreneur and a Podcaster. He is a fitness freak who loves talking about content, podcasts, creators, economy, and entrepreneurship. He calls himself an accidental entrepreneur and an unconventional learner.

Varun is the Co-Founder and CEO of The Glitch. He has previously worked with Channel V as a producer and at MTV as an asst. producer.

Transcription of the Entire Interview

Q1. How did the idea of Scalenut spark, and how did you pace through your journey of Scalenut as a marketplace solution?

Ans. It all started in the midst of Covid-19 when my Co-founders and I contemplated the crippling situation. A lot of people were laid off, or their businesses were stalled. The global crisis also changed the way professional work has been perceived up until now. 

Remote working is now a way of professional life, and even when the situation gets better, this aspect might sustain in a lot of companies. This raised a focus on content more than ever.

We also observed the other gig marketplaces and white collared space and realised their loopholes; the talent was not exactly unlogged there. These spaces also did not offer quality support or necessary tools for both freelancers and brands to carry a streamlined workflow or required transactions.

I, along with my co-founders, took this as an opportunity to build a managed marketplace where freelancer or content gig creators have the freedom to pick quality work. At the same time, companies do not have to go through the strenuous process of hiring and training. They just have to assign their projects to the freelancer from a huge pool of talent. Everything step behind the scene, such as hiring, training, and quality check is done by Scalenut.

Q2. In the last six months, what were the problems you thought would be addressed but instead, other problems cropped up which were unforeseen?

Ans. We observed that people are still apprehensive about outsourcing their work, be it content or any other work. It might take a while for people to get under the skin of the outsourcing model. Another aspect is that people or even brands are not yet comfortable with the merger of AI Technology and human resource.

So, the biggest challenge for us has been the understanding of how we at Scalenut leverage AI and human resources.

Q3. What is your take on AI being observed as a worry point and has any client come with such a notion?

Ans. We work with people from a wide spectrum and the idea that AI will replace the workforce still makes a lot of people feel sceptical. They do consider this a worrying factor and we have had experiences where clients and freelancers have raised their concern.

Q4. What in your belief are the pain points of freelancers?

Ans. Open marketplaces restrict freelancers to bid for work they want, shell out money and still the work they get is inconsistent. Like, for example, on Upwork, for one project there are, on an average, 15 proposals. That’s the level of competition.

We have, on the contrary, made our managed marketplace a fixed price platform, so freelancers do not have to fret over what price they would get. The onboarded gig writers get consistent work and have the choice of time. Work is flexible as opposed to a full-time job, and payment is on time.

Q5. How have you built the Internal team at Scalenut? What is the bifurcation in terms of the skillset of your team?

Ans. Most of my team is technology-based, considering I myself am an engineer. Then we have a category development team, which streamlines the system and helps the freelancers navigate through the entire process. We have, of course, our sales and marketing team managing the business expansion and development. Then, the operations department is another sub-vertical that is there in Scalenut.

Q6. What was your perception, as an engineer, when you came into this landscape of content gig economy?

Ans. My main team is technology-driven. I am an engineer, and our co-founder is also an engineer. Engineering has taught us to look at things rationally. So, when I and the co-founders observe a problem, we try to solve it through technology. Besides, we have also worked with a lot of agencies and felt that the problems of the online marketplace were never solved but remained a pain point for freelancers and brands.  

Technology has helped us put forward the right thing at the right place. We are using our past experiences also, like when I was working at Snapdeal, I was dealing with a large number of packages a day. That made me understand how to manage a huge amount of work in a single day which is quite useful at Scalenut because we have a massive amount of work daily.

Q7. Are there some elements from your past experiences that you have brought into Scalenut?

Ans. There are different levels and processes at Scalenut that need the right workflow. We, as a team, gained this understanding from our past experiences and implemented it here by streamlining the workflow, building and executing the right technology. While doing so, we also have to be vigilant as to whether at scale that solution is relevant enough or not.

Apart from this, all gig workers need consistent work, and when given, they work amazingly. So, we brought in the supply of work and a set of freelancers to address the requirement.

Q8. All co-founders bring different skills and plug-ins at one point for business growth. What did each of you as co-founders add to the recipe?

Ans. We are three co-founders who take the call and see things from different perspectives.

Saurabh has deep product experience in a myriad of B2B enterprises. He is extremely passionate and super optimistic. He is always gung-ho about new assignments or innovation.

Our second co-founder Gaurav is a deep thinker and solves problems fantastically. But, he is on the careful side and considers every aspect before moving further.

I am the one who rests in between, and our amalgamation creates a beautiful recipe that we call Scalenut.

Q9. How do you see this broader space evolving with the marketplace and AI coming in? What is your macro perspective, and what trends do you see coming in?

Ans. A lot of growth is placed on the performance marketing channel, and this is where companies spend most of their money to get the desired growth. Content can be listed as the second place where focus and money need to be dispersed. As we are moving ahead in the digital game, these channels are becoming more and more expensive. With this, organic and specific-element become more relevant.

We can easily say that the pressure will expand more on Facebook, Google, while the organic channel will be focussed upon more in the next 4-5 years. The technology of AI that we are still sceptical to relate to will merge with human resources. This will push everyone to churn out content at lightning speed. When that quantity takes hold, there will have to be a way to check the quality of work. 

Q10. In the broader concept, what are the opportunities for people in general?

Ans. If I talk about India, then we are currently in the golden era. The startup ecosystem is extremely powerful, and foreign companies are flocking to invest in Indian startups. Every other day, more unicorns are produced. Opportunities have opened up in every space and corner for the one who has the enthusiasm to give it a try.

This can be said for e-commerce, banking, IT or even the manufacturing sector, where the government is surging ahead to invest more and make India a self-reliant country.

So, I can easily say that this is an interesting phase for people starting with a business or already existing entrepreneurs. You just have to look around and see what you resonate with the most and pick that sector.

Q11. How do you ensure that creativity is not being compromised with the advent of technology or technical people?

Ans. So, we do take inputs from our technical people, but we also make sure that the curvature is not completely open-ended. We only take the ones which are an absolute must and leave the rest to the creative team or the creator. We also conduct regular quality checks to maintain a balance between creativity and what the client wants.

Q12. Is this what you set out to do, or what the idea behind your startup was?

Ans. I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur; this is all I have known right from the start. I started my career with ITC and left it after three years of work. After that, I spent my working hours with startups through my career journey. This gave me an insight into how startups work and everything involved with it. Even then, I was insistent on becoming an entrepreneur, but I did not have an idea as to what sector I would choose. All I knew was, I want to give back to society for whatever I have received.

Q13. What is the one thing that you spend most of your time on?

Ans. I don’t get a lot of spare time, but whatever spare time I have in hand, I like to do nothing, or work out, read something, or spend time with my family. If I can take out time for all this, my day is done.

Q14. Any favourite book or movie?

Ans. I recently read Laws of the Spirit World and would highly recommend it to everyone.

Q15. Will the engineering mindset never die?

Ans. An engineer's mind works like when you set out for something, that idea or thought never dies until the goal is achieved. So, it will always stay with me.


Related Posts