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SkillSoniq

Connecting companies with freelancers using AI: Rapid growth during COVID-19

Highlights

1
We anticipate heavy demand for our services due to COVID-19, as more companies will lean towards hiring flexible, specialized freelancers
2
220+ investors including Venture Capitalists and high profile Angel investors from Amazon, Goldman Sachs and Airbnb
3
6,000+ Freelancers, 100+ Clients, $600K in Annualized Revenue in the 1st year of launch - Doubling revenues every quarter. No advertising!
4
High Profile Board of Advisors: CXO of Billion Dollar Companies, MD of Techstars, Experienced Venture Capitalist, Successful Entrepreneurs
5
Total addressable market in the US is $25B in net revenue a year, and growing at 20% a year. International growth rates are up to 80% a yr
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Our clients obsess over our platform and use us repeatedly. Google Rating of 5.0/5.0 and TrustPilot rating of 4.6/5.0
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Global workforce is rapidly shifting towards freelancing - 1 in 3 US workers currently freelances. Soon, 1 in 2 US workers will freelance!
8
Many clients have switched from Upwork (leading remote freelance platform) to SkillSoniq, as they preferred our product, quality and pricing

Our Team

Two years back, I worked with workers outside the US, and suffered from major depression because of the lack of trust, security, communication, and professionalism I faced when working with remote talent. I could not hire people locally in NY because they were expensive. Hence, we built SkillSoniq to hire "local" talent quickly at affordable rates.


SkillSoniq: Uber for Skilled, Local Freelancers

How We Started

A few years ago, SkillSoniq's founder had a terrible experience working with remote talent, and suffered from extreme stress and depression, because of the lack of trust, security, communication and professionalism he experienced in working with remote talent, exacerbated by the difference in time zones. When he started looking for more convenient ways to hire talent locally in New York, he found none. He realized that:

On Job Portals, it took 30-40 days to hire talent and Staffing Agencies charged 20-25% commission. As a result, companies spent months interviewing and hiring expensive workers, in many cases, not being able to replace a worker if they were not a good fit. This is a problem that will persist and will only get bigger as companies hire more and more workers.


SkillSoniq is the first online marketplace that uses powerful algorithms to connect companies with skilled "contract to hire" freelancers when and where they want, at highly affordable rates. Companies work with freelancers in their city, and at any point during the project, either extend project, end project, replace freelancers or flip freelancers to their payroll.
  

SkillSoniq's Mission: To enable companies to hire talent when and where they want, at highly affordable rates

SkillSoniq is quick, affordable and convenient. Something that Job Portals, Staffing Agencies and existing Freelance websites are not.

Uber for Skilled, Local Freelancers

With the world's workforce moving rapidly towards freelancing, we are well poised to leverage this freelance revolution, and use sophisticated technology to wipe out inefficiencies in the recruitment space, across Job Portals, Staffing Agencies and Remote freelance platforms. In the "SkillSoniq" world, companies will be able to hire / fire talent in the office easily, thereby building teams with the click of a button.

We aspire to be like Uber for Skilled, Local freelancers - Just like you get a driver within 5 minutes, our vision is to provide skilled freelancers right in the office within 1 business day. If you don’t like them, simply click a button to replace them!

Think about that! Companies open up the app, search for skills and get a freelancer right in their office the next day! This will truly revolutionize sourcing for companies and make hiring talent just a click away. 

We are currently using intelligent algorithms to provide skilled freelancers within 5 business days, which is saving companies 60% time and cost in hiring talent.

2019 has been a foundational year for us! We are poised for massive growth in 2020 and beyond

We spent most of 2016, 2017 and 2018 painstakingly researching our business idea, building multiple versions of our product, scaling up a database of freelancers, and testing our offerings in the market to find the right set of customers. In 2019, we believe our efforts in the prior 3 years have paid off and since market launch in Q1 2019, we are doubling Annualized Gross Revenue (or Annualized Payments) every quarter!

2019 has only re-inforced our belief that there is a huge market need for companies to hire local, freelance talent, quickly and at affordable rates. We now plan to capitalize on our learnings in 2019 to grow rapidly in 2020 and beyond

Our Gross Revenues in 2019 stand at $330,000+ at a run rate of $50,000/month, and we are earning Net Revenues at a run rate of roughly $5,000/month. We have also witnessed a high net profit margin of 30% (as a % of Net Revenue). All this in just the first year of market launch in 2019, and by spending negligible money on advertising!

SkillSoniq is serving an unmet need for local freelance talent that no other company is currently focused on solving

We believe job portals cannot replicate our model since they are resume driven, focused on full-time jobs and are not personalized to the job seeker and employer. We also believe that freelance sites like Upwork, Fiverr and Freelancer.com have a different mission of connecting companies with "remote" talent that is cheap and low quality. In contrast to our competition, we personalize our services to companies and freelancers, and are quick, convenient and affordable.

SkillSoniq is well positioned to serve an unmet need for local "contract to hire" freelance talent, and will allow us to grow till the point "Network effects" begin to surface on our platform. Once that happens, "switching costs" for freelancers and companies will become extremely high.

Convenience powered by Sophisticated Technology

The convenience of the SkillSoniq platform is matched by the equally complex data pipelines and algorithms in the back end. 

Our technology is backed by powerful algorithms, including Natural Language Processing, Backward Propagation, Deep Learning and Machine Learning, with the sole objective of enabling companies to hire talent within 1 business day. Our matching algorithms will get better at predicting matches, as more companies make interview and project decisions on the platform 

We believe that in 2020, we will begin to display strong Network Effects that will create a huge barrier to entry for competitors to replicate our services quickly. These effects will begin to surface as we utilize a training corpus we have setup to intake data from all of the activities happening on SkillSoniq, before, during and after a project. The data fed into our training corpus will help us identify strong hiring patterns and significantly improve our prediction power. This will drive our demand flywheel, and cause more companies to sign up on SkillSoniq. As more companies sign up, more qualified freelancers will automatically apply on the platform, which will, in turn, enable more companies to sign up.

We envision 5 use cases for Machine Learning and AI on our platform, and that we believe will drive strong Network effects on SkillSoniq:

1. Enhanced Matching - Companies currently interview and/or decline candidates and specify reasons for doing so - All of this data is routed into our training engine, which is used to deploy newer, more enhanced predictive models on our platform. As companies make more interview and project decisions on the platform, our algorithms will analyze this behavior and will start using this learning to predict better freelance matches for similar companies and for similar projects

2. Supply - Demand Alignment - Our training engine is setup in a way that as it gets bigger, we will use it to predict which freelancers should be automatically approved or declined on our platform right when they apply to get projects on SkillSoniq. Our technology will automatically take inputs such as the quality of an application, time of the year, active projects, predicted demand and existing supply to automatically approve/decline new profiles in a way that the freelancers who are approved start receiving interview offers the next day. This will ensure high liquidity on our platform, and job seekers will begin to see the value in getting approved on SkillSoniq

3. New Hire Prediction -
 Since we get data on which roles companies are hiring for, what skills are the most popular, how many freelancers are being hired and in what order, we will begin to use this data to recommend new hires to companies that hire just 1 freelancer through our platform. This will make it very easy for companies to start building a team of relevant talent, based on the hiring patterns of their competitors or successful companies in their space

4. Real-time Feedback Analyses - As more freelancers are deployed on projects, they will provide feedback to SkillSoniq on their project experience. For example, they will tell us about their commute to work, experience on day 1, the culture at the client site, feedback on their reporting manager, what skills they are gaining, and how much they like the project. All of this data will be used to classify the freelancers as a "personality type" and be used to predict projects that make a great fit

5. Optimized utilization of Freelancers - SkillSoniq gets a ton of data on how many hours freelancers are working, where they are working and what they do on a weekly basis. As we scale, this data will be used to send them similar project offers during their idle time, to bump up their utilization. For example, if a freelancer commutes from Brooklyn to Midtown Manhattan to work on projects on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, SkillSoniq will automatically send them offers for projects on Tuesday and Thursday to ensure they are utilized during the work week and make more money

We believe job portals, staffing agencies and other freelance portals will not be able to replicate SkillSoniq because they are more transactional in nature and have minimal data points on where candidates are interviewing, how their experience on a job is, how much they are getting paid and if they are liking their job. Because SkillSoniq gathers powerful data points from companies and freelancers before, during and after a project, it will help us personalize our services to both companies and freelancers in the future. All this to the extent that companies will simply have to state "Alexa, get me a digital marketer" and a digital marketer they like will pop up in their office the next day! 

    Extremely Easy to use for Both Companies and Freelancers

    SkillSoniq is really easy to use for both companies and freelancers. Freelancers submit their profile on SkillSoniq just once - Freelancer applications are reviewed and once approved, freelancers sit back and relax as our technology sends them interview and project offers in their city. Companies, on the other hand, simply answer a few basic questions on whom they need, and the technology automatically connects them with the best freelancers in their city.

    During a project, freelancers use the app to complete timesheets and get paid by SkillSoniq every week. At the end of the project, SkillSoniq collects anonymous feedback from both the company and the freelancer, which is used to enhance matches in the future.

    After a few months of working with a freelancer, companies get the option to convert freelancers to their payroll, extend project or end the project. This way, they get to "Try before they buy" and leverage the true power of the freelance revolution the global workforce is witnessing.

    Our thousands of freelancers come with 50+ skill-sets and are broadly classified into 4 categories:

    1. Professional: These comprise of Bankers, Lawyers, Chartered Accountants, Chartered Financial Analysts, Educators and so on

    2. Creative: These comprise of graphic designers, architectural designers, UI/UX designers, content editors, photographers, videographers and so on

    3. Technical: These comprise of Developers, Project Managers, Data Science experts, Product Managers, Testers and so on

    4. Other: These comprise of Office managers, PowerPoint experts, Operations Specialists and so on

    Our freelancers work with clients in the following 3 ways:

    1. Full-Time Freelancers (dedicated to one client at a time): They freelance full-time for a single client at a time

    2. Full-Time Freelancers (dedicated to multiple clients at a time): They freelance full-time for multiple clients at a time

    3. Part-Time Freelancers: They have full-time jobs and freelance part-time on the evenings and/or weekends

    We have Attractive Unit Economics, and Sales Channels that are working for us with minimal advertising dollars

    We currently spend ~$375 to win one customer, from whom we earn at least $1,500 in Net Revenue ("Lifetime Value or LTV"). This makes our LTV/CAC ratio 4x, which is extremely attractive. This ratio gives us room to invest heavily in our proven sales channels, and maintain an average LTV/CAC ratio at around 3x. 

    Below are the details of our LTV and CAC metrics:

    Through market feedback, we realized that our sweet spot of customers right now are companies with a headcount of less than 200 employees. These are companies that cannot afford to waste time on Job Portals, cannot afford staffing agencies, and want the convenience of working with contractors in their office, with the option to convert them full-time. We are currently focused on winning in this segment of the market and will slowly scale our services to medium sized and enterprise clients.

    We currently acquire customers through 4 major sales channels, and plan to double down on these sales channels to accelerate our growth in 2020. 2 of the 4 sales channels have been successfully tested, and we believe we are developing a solid, scalable playbook to grow in 2020 and beyond

    1. Partnership with Coworking spaces and Sales Conferences  - Most of our target set of companies operate out of co-working spaces. We have partnered with all the 50+ WeWork locations in NY, along with other major coworking spaces like Serendipity Labs, The Yard, Bond Collective, Joynture and many more. With the help of positive market feedback, we have been able to conduct 120+ coworking space events and continue to organize at least 10 coworking events every month. During such events, we educate potential clients on SkillSoniq, do real-time demos, and hand out marketing material. We then follow-up with leads to convert them into paid customers. We have also found certain tech conferences in New York to be a great way to meet potential customers. Coworking space and tech conferences have not cost us much and have given us a healthy conversion rate of ~5%, which means for every 100 companies we speak to at these events, 1 company ends up using SkillSoniq. We launched in the market with this sales channel to have a direct interaction with potential customers, get intimate market feedback on SkillSoniq, and close on a higher percentage of qualified leads. We understand that while this channel has a high conversion, is "high touch" and cheap, it is not scalable. Hence, we opened up a second sales channel more recently (Email Marketing), through which we have seen success at a small scale, and that is much easier to scale. 

    2. Highly targeted Email marketing campaigns - We built an in-house tool to gather qualified leads on people who are actively hiring in and around New York, and run highly targeted email marketing drip campaigns to educate target customers about SkillSoniq, and encourage them to go through our sales funnel. We started this sales channel in September 2019, and have sent out ~8,000 marketing emails since then. We have seen the below conversion rates from the emails we have sent so far:

    a. 0.5% - 1% conversion from emails into a demo

    b. 15% conversion from a demo to a paid customer

    c.  0.07% - 0.1% overall conversion rate (c = a x b)

    This means for every 1,500 emails, we get a paid customer. We believe this is an attractive conversion rate, and that we can win at least 10 unique customers every month by doubling down on this sales channel and sending 10,000+ targeted drip campaigns every month.

    3. Channel Partnerships - Since the global workforce is seeing a shift towards freelancing, we are seeing a ton of companies provide B2B services to companies that hire freelancers. These include Payroll companies, Freelance Insurance providers (Ex: Trupo), Freelance Payment Providers and many more. We are currently exploring ways to club our services with these freelance services and strike creative revenue share partnerships with more established companies. This will allow us to automatically sell to customers serviced by our partners. While the sales cycle may be long for this sales channel, we believe we can seal major partnerships with bigger clients through this sales channel. Since our Gross Margins (on Net Revenue) are north of 40%, we can afford to strike revenue share partnerships and still maintain a healthy Gross and Net Profit margin

    4. SEO and PPC Campaigns - While the above 3 sales channels will drive growth for us in 2020 and beyond, we believe we can build a solid stream of sales leads through digital marketing, more specifically through a smart SEO strategy and through paid search campaigns. We have identified a list of 20 keywords that are relevant to our business and to the volume of searches on Google, and are investing heavily in content to bump up our rankings on Google. We believe that over the next 12 months, we will begin to get inbound leads organically through this channel, which will supplement the leads we generate through the above 3 sales channels. Sometime in 2020, we will also begin to run test campaigns through paid ad channels like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads and LinkedIn Ads. We do not currently invest in these channels as they are expensive for us.

    Our goal is to invest in the above 4 sales channels in 2020 to win in New York, and then in 2021, replicate this strategy to enter other freelance heavy cities like Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Houston and Austin      

    Business Model

    We currently make money in 2 ways:

    1. We charge freelancers a 10% commission on every dollar paid by the client to the freelancer 

    2. We charge clients a 10% Buyout fee every time they flip a freelancer to their payroll

    3. In the future, we will charge higher commissions to freelancers to access premium features on the platform

    4. In the future, we will charge clients to access premium features on the platform


    Global Workforce undergoing a major shift towards Local Freelancing, and we are ready to capitalize on it!

    Our addressable market for skilled freelancers is estimated at a whopping $25 Billion in net revenue per year just in the US and is growing at 20% a year! New York, in which we operate, represents the largest market for skilled freelancers at $3 Billion in net revenue per year. 

    SkillSoniq is currently operational in New York and New Jersey, and is well positioned to capture the New York market for skilled freelancers using our sales playbook, that has worked well for us at a small scale. Towards the end of 2020, we plan to replicate our playbook in other "freelance heavy" cities and countries. 

    We need your Funds now to invest in avenues that have worked for us, quickly reach critical mass and put our marketplace in a hyper-growth spiral

    We are currently bootstrapped and believe we are almost there in terms of a product-market fit, with repeat clients and great feedback from both clients and freelancers. We believe now is the time to raise funds, to invest in sales channels that have worked for us, invest in our product and grow rapidly within and outside New York.  

    We believe an investment from you will help us reach the critical mass or escape velocity needed to put our marketplace in a hyper-growth spiral. With that in mind, we are looking to raise angel funds to invest in our team, product and marketing, so that we can win in the New York market by the end of 2020, and set ourselves up to replicate our sales playbook in other "freelance heavy" cities across the world. 

    More specifically, we plan to:

    1. Invest in hiring a full-time sales person who will enhance our strategy of bringing in clients, and help us win small, medium and enterprise clients in New York

    2. Convert our core team members across Tech, Data Science and Marketing from part-time to full-time to accelerate our top line, and product development

    3. Invest in our product to expedite the release of 25+ product features that customers have demanded on the platform. A few examples being multi-user ability, messaging, ability to filter matches, ability to download data, faster processing of matches, a better payment platform and calendar integration. 

      4. Invest in enhancing our matching algorithms to automatically pre-screen freelancers, reduce the time to fill to 1 business day and predict future hires for clients

      5. Invest in content writing, search ads and social media marketing to bring in more users and customers

      6. Invest further in highly targeted email marketing campaigns to scale up our customer acquisition process

      7. Invest in customer support and operations to manage the intake of freelancers, provide excellent customer support and setup an operations team 

      We plan to do a second fund raise (priced round) towards the end of 2020 to fuel our growth in freelance heavy cities in and outside of New York. 

      Core Team positioned to Win - 35+ Years of Relevant Experience across Sales, Marketing, Tech and Data Science

      This is a great opportunity for you to invest in a company that is led by an extremely smart (yet modest) and experienced team, that has felt the pain of hiring and applying for jobs, and are determined to transform the way talent is hired. Our team has a combined experience of 35+ Years across Sales, Finance, Operations, Tech, Data Science and Marketing  

      Abby (Founder, 3x Entrepreneur and Proven Leader)

      Abby leads from the front, has 12+ years of professional experience, graduated top of his class with a BBA and MBA from University of Michigan Ross School of Business and Indian School of Business respectively, is a Chartered Financial Analyst, and has been an entrepreneur three times, since the age of 19. His first experience as an entrepreneur was when he was 19, to sell paint jobs to homeowners in the not so affluent neighborhoods of Detroit. As an immigrant who had just landed in the US to pursue undergraduate studies, Abby learnt the true meaning of persistence during this experience, when he knocked on doors of homeowners, and sold and executed paint jobs over the summer of 2004. His second venture was a non-tech traditional venture in the training space in India, which grew to 12 cities, had 10,000+ customers and was largely profitable. He had to shut it down as the traditional training space was killed by online training. SkillSoniq is Abby's third venture and over the last 12+ years, he has gained massive experience working for Fortune 500 companies like Merrill Lynch and GE across Finance, Operations, and Consulting, managing large teams. Abby brings to the team a well rounded professional experience, as well as that determination to never give up. He is an eternal optimist and believes that the freelance recruitment space is ripe for disruption.   

      Brian (Tech Lead and Tech Genius)

      Brian joined SkillSoniq early on as a full stack developer and has been instrumental in creating all things tech at this company. Brian is an International Relations Expert from Boston University, who realized a few years back that tech was his true calling. After graduating from tech boot camps like General Assembly and Flatiron School in New York, he became an expert in front end and back end coding languages. Brian is an absolute genius when it comes to understanding user requirements and translating them into product features. He creates web based applications which make data analysis possible through the collection and visualization of content usage across convergent marketplaces, and has been instrumental in rolling out product features at SkillSoniq at trailblazing speeds. 


      Bogdan (Digital Marketing Lead)

      Bogdan joined SkillSoniq as a Digital Marketing Expert, has helped several companies get to the first page on Google for relevant keywords and has 8+ years of experience doing just this! Bogdan grew up in Canada, and is obsessed with how Google Search results work, with content writing, and with figuring out effective PPC Campaigns. Bogdan is motivated by a natural curiosity for how things work, which makes him diligent in gathering competitive intelligence. He is fascinated by market trends and analytics data. He is very tech-savvy and is actively involved in UX/UI design-based strategies as well as the implementation and monitoring of user behaviors and engagement-related activities. He creates cutting-edge user experiences, while working to improve advertising solutions and campaigns through ongoing product development. Bogdan has an ardent interest in fashion, music, art, luxury, culture.

      Rick (Sales Lead)

      Rick joined SkillSoniq as a sales leader and comes with 12+ years of sales experience. Rick has extensive sales and recruiting experience, helping startups, medium sized and enterprise clients grow primarily by hiring the right people. Rick understands what it takes for companies to grow by hiring the right talent and has been helping SkillSoniq in developing and executing a scalable sales playbook.


      Adam (Lead Data Scientist)

      Adam is a double Masters and a graduate of University of Pennsylvania. He is an expert in Paleontology and Statistics. In transitioning from Academia into Data Science, Adam attended the The Data Incubator bootcamp. There he was able to apply his statistical training to business oriented, real-world messy data. He designed and completed his own project in predicting the success of Kickstarter campaigns, by scraping the data from 175,000 campaign websites, and testing out a number of different models in order to best predict campaign success. He used both natural language processing and quantitative data about the campaigns, and ultimately had a model with a 60% accuracy rate on the test set, built on balanced training sets. Adam is working on solving exciting Data Science problems @ SkillSoniq using Deep Learning, NLP, Machine Learning and Neural Nets. 

      Board of Advisors

      Curt Olson (Advisor)

      Curt is a forward-thinking, innovative, results-driven senior executive with demonstrated expertise in developing and executing strategic vision, driving top and bottom line results, merging business units and consolidating cultures, building cohesive executive teams, and aligning organization with strategic vision. Established capabilities in team leadership and talent development, sales force and customer management, and IT development and implementation. Adept at reorganizing large sales forces, driving a culture of compliance, reducing expenses, and improving profitability. Proven track record of driving transformational change, and delivering top-line and bottom-line results. Curt has been the CEO of Billion Dollar Companies such as AIG Benefit Solutions, ING Life Korea, and ING Employee Benefits. 

      Don Burton (Advisor)

      Don has had an interesting career at the cutting edge of education innovation and technology-- primarily launching, scaling, and exiting companies as well as a thought leader on the topic of the Future of Education. As a strategic advisor, Don worked with McKinsey & Co consulting on strategies to launch interactive media business units and how to create open innovation within large corporates such as Apple, IBM, Sony, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Cox Cable, Viacom and Disney and with Goldman Sachs advising on exits and acquisitions. As an Intrapreneur, he has built education startups within large companies such as Walt Disney Company and Kaplan. As an Entrepreneur, he has built multiple edtech startups on his own as a founder with a major exit to Kaplan/Washington Post. He most recently has been a successful edtech investor with a portfolio of more than 30 startups as a seed stage investor. Don was an angel investor before running edtech Startup Accelerator programs with Techstars, and for his own company, graduating 3 cohorts who have raised more than 100 million in financing and have an estimated market cap of more than $400 million. He currently is co-founder and managing partner of LearnStart, a seed stage venture capital fund focused exclusively on learning, education and talent. Don graduated from Harvard Business School and Duke University.

      Rishi Kapal (Advisor)

      Rishi is a Stanford LEAD Alumni, Author of Kites in a Hurricane, MIASMA and Next Generation Mobile Communications , has extensive experience in scaling early revenue companies in global markets, is a performance and career transition coach, and an academician by choice. He has coached and mentored 100+ candidates at CXO/ middle management and 1000+students as on date.

      Thanks for reading our story! Do let us know if you have any questions - We look forward to working with you!


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