Last month we released our first episode of CSEKING IN. We really wanted to do something unique and more in-depth than your typical "top 10 marketing mistakes you are making" types of blog posts. From this desire, we landed on creating a video series that spoke to the challenges and success stories of entrepreneurs and business leaders in our community - straight from their mouths.
Checking in with real people. Real businesses. Real stories.
In our second episode, we continue to explore this concept and bring in Daniel Rondeau with 925 Freelancing.
We hope you enjoy it. If you have any feedback on what you would like to see and hear in these videos, don't hesitate to reach out here, or leave a comment in the youtube comments.
Are you a "listen to this in the car" kind of person? If so - you can download the audio file here and give it a listen whenever you want. In the future, we will be releasing these in a podcast format - so stay tuned!
Nikki: In this episode of CSEKING IN, we met with a young, inspirational entrepreneur Daniel Rondeau from 925 Freelancing to find out the importance of a “why” when starting your business.
Thanks for coming in Daniel! We have Daniel Rondeau, founder and CEO from 925 Freelancing Inc. in the studio with us today. Thank you very much for coming in.
Dan: Thanks for having me, I really appreciate it.
Nikki: Do you prefer Daniel or Dan?
Dan: Let’s roll with Dan.
Nikki: Dan is great! Thank you. So, Dan maybe you if can help the viewers understand the 925 Freelance model and what it is that you do.
Dan: Oh ok, that’s the fun part! So we’re an on-demand work app for iPhone and Android. We looked at the way Uber works and how it does a great job of connecting people who need rides with people who need some extra cash. I love their model, and I thought if they can do that for taxi services then why can’t we do that for real careers? And that’s exactly what we did. We connect people looking for flexible work in the construction industry with business owners looking to fill holes in their staff and bring in people for temporary and short-term contracts.
Nikki: You got something.
Dan: Thank you.
Nikki: Hmm well there you go!
Dan: If we look at the whole thing, the fun part for me is this whole Airbnb, Uber movement it’s all temporary. It’s just temporary staffing. So you have temporary taxi drivers, SKIP is a temporary delivery driver, Instacart that’s coming to town is a temporary grocery getter and Airbnb is a temporary hotel owner. And then we go into Fiverr and Upwork and they’re temporary digital workers. It’s a temporary staff agency, except for they say “you pick your own worker”. So we’re bringing that model and going for the actual industry that makes up 50% of the marketplace. It’s absolutely huge.
Nikki: Wow, that’s an interesting concept. So you’ve had 925 Freelancing up and running now for how long?
Dan: Eight months.
Nikki: Eight months... and the idea has been brewing for how long?
Dan: You know, it really started about two years ago. The seed of it, actually started three years ago. My father passed away and he was looking for work the old school way. Knocking on doors and driving around going to businesses and unfortunately, got caught in the cold. It was -40 and the truck broke down and unfortunately he didn’t make it.
Nikki: Oh Dan.. I’m sorry.
Dan: Thank you. It was an unfortunate turn of events but I thought let’s take something bad, and turn it into something good. So, it started with that and that’s how we came up with this. It’s giving someone the ability to make money at the touch of a button.
Nikki: I’ve got a lot of questions for you. From a business perspective, is this your full-time job?
Dan: It is, absolutely.
Nikki: So it has to make money, you need to monetize it. So help me connect the dots, how does it work?
Dan: You know, it’s pretty simple. We leaned on the Uber model again, they collect a percentage per ride and we collect a percentage from the business per hour. We allow the worker to collect the full salary without interfering with how much they can make and they can earn, because that’s what is important to us. So we charge the business a 35% fee for each hour worked. That way, they don’t have to deal with all the managing, onboarding, recruiting, payroll we just rolled in all into the app.
Nikki: Hmm so, you’re going to have to help me out some more. Is the customer the business that you are working with, or is the customer the individual looking to subsidize some income?
Dan: That’s the fun part about a two-sided marketplace that we have is that we see them both as customers! Technically speaking from a business perspective, the businesses are the customer. There’s just like the people that would go into a grocery store and go shopping for vegetables, they’re paying the bill. But see our workers as customers as well because our job is to make them happy. Our job is to give them flexible work on demand. So, they’re both customers, but only one of them pays.
Nikki: Ok, so what’s the appetite from the community? What’s the uptake?
Dan: You know, it’s been absolutely amazing. To be quite honest, in the very beginning I thought “Wow there are so many apps out there, what’s going to make my different, what’s going to make mine special?” And at the end of the day, it was the community that makes a different special. It was the businesses that make up Kelowna that said “We believe in you and we believe in your idea, let’s work together to help people find jobs, and help put people in careers and help pay their bills.”
Nikki: I like it.
Dan: Thank you.
Nikki: So how many workers do you have in the app or in the system?
Dan: Yeah that’s another point of pride for me is we’re already at 1000 workers. And on the business side, we’ve already had over 50 sign up with us that believe in what we do. We’ve been growing pretty steadily since launch.
Nikki: Ok, so now I have another question for you. Growing steadily since launch, you sit out and you start a business and a lot of it is manual hours. You’re doing a lot of the onboarding, so is it just you? Do you have staff?
Dan: You know what, technically speaking, I am working full-time, I made the big leap of faith while my partner holds a career as he has a family to feed. So, I manage all the business functions and contract out the expertise that the business needs. So, we need a chart to screen personnel and we contract that out. The copyrighting and the digital design, we contract that all out simply to help us control our growth and control our expenses so that we don’t grow too fast and ending up sinking our own ship.
Nikki: So three years in concept, two years about seriously thinking about it, and then eight months in actually doing it. Any landmines you wish you could’ve skipped even in the short, short time that you can reflect on that you could’ve done differently or you still need to do differently?
Dan: Yeah, you know, just the most honest and blunt one is I almost wish I wasn’t so naive. I fell into that belief system that is sold and portrayed on social media of entrepreneurship being so “easy” and that if you just make the jump, you just make it! You go, everyone can fly! And that has been the biggest landmine is the absolute time commitment and life commitment that I have to dedicate and the sacrifice that I have to take. I wish I would have known it going in, and it would have helped me prepare a lot more.
Nikki: Would you have chosen differently?
Dan: Absolutely not.
Nikki: I don’t think so either.
Dan: Definitely not.
Nikki: So, have you sat down, have you done a business plan, do you know when you’ve got a line in the sand on what successes and what you have to keep working towards?
Nikki: How’re you doing?
Dan: We’re doing really well! We are far ahead of schedule, I learned a lot through my previous career of how to manage the number side of a business. The personnel side is different for me but we’re ahead of schedule by at least 18 months compared to my business plan. I went out, and I did three business plans and financial models of absolute success. We nail everything, you know, if we absolutely tank, how bad is it going to be? And the middle ground, we’re hovering right around the middle ground and I’m really happy to see that.
Nikki: Self-funded? Or did you go for funding?
Nikki: Good for you.
Dan: Thank you! I wanted to make sure that we can prove it, that my idea is actually feasible before I even thought about making anybody else risk anything. I funded it all from my savings, and said: “Let’s just do this, and let me prove to everybody else, that I can do it before I ask for help.”
Nikki: So you’ve proved that it’s viable. You’ve proved that you have a viable business according to your plans or your projections. What’s next? Are you able to take it out into other communities? Do you have to be in those markets? You said at the beginning, one of the biggest benefits to you was the uptake from the business community and the relationships with the business people. Can you do that in other communities?
Dan: Absolutely. That has been a learning curve as well and a really fun one to sort out. Again. I was naive, I was young and naive and I thought “Hey, if we just make an app it’ll go nationwide and I won’t have to manage it.” But, in a lot of ways, it’s just like a traditional business. We’re still going to have to go city by city and town by town, and shake hands and build relationships just like anybody else would. and if we try and skip those steps, we won’t make it. You know, Airbnb and Uber stories, what a lot of people don’t know is the years they spent behind the scenes flying around and shaking hands and meeting people. That’s my biggest learning is that it’s got to be old school, you got to get your boots dirty.
Nikki: Any other tips or words of wisdom you can leave us with?
Dan: Make sure you know your “why”. Make sure you know your “why” and it’s concrete and it can pull you through the hardest and most difficult struggles that you can possibly imagine. If you know your “why”, then there’s no way that you can be stopped.
Nikki: Thank you very much Dan.
Dan: Thank you for having me.
Nikki: And thank you for CSEKING IN.
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