Kunal Modi, of InstaTaskers fame, says his decision to start something of his own was fuelled in part by the fact that his friends had already donned the entrepreneurial cap before him. Was it a case of keeping up with the Joneses? No, he says; business was always part of his DNA given that his family has their own real estate business and that he completed his MBA like the proverbial wunderkind. The tryst with his startup friends acted as the catalyst, and knowing how they struggled to find the right talent on demand for their companies gave Kunal his own lightbulb moment.
That moment of inspiration turned into a long adventure when he met Ubika Dev, his partner in crime and co-founder of InstaTaskers.com. “For a first-time entrepreneur who is already juggling between so many roles, nothing can be a better godsend than a complimentary co-founder. Please note that I said complementary and not perfect. When people are looking for a perfect co-founder, they are usually looking for their clones”, she thinks. So, would she credit the complementary approach to management and business that she and Kunal have for their success? The reply is a yes.
It has been a little more than a year since the chance meeting of fates and business minds, and their website InstaTaskers has been going places. The site offers expert freelancing services for graphic designing, content writing, web & app design, UI-UX, digital marketing, animations, photography, and videography for businesses. So far, they have managed to seal 500+ deals, acquire 1900+ leads, and build a strong community of 1200 freelancers or ‘Taskers’.
Most companies have a secret formula for success, and Ubika says that it is their marketing strategy and an ability to adapt that have been the key ingredients to their success. “Persistence is a nice trait, but you also need to know when to let go and find the right balance between objective and results”, says the National Merit Award winner, IIMA graduate, and former strategist of the Lodha Group. When asked to define this marketing plan, Kunal says that the company has a well-honed three-pronged approach to conquer an unorganized sector. The first step is to tap customers in need by developing channels that provide a continuous stream of semi-qualified leads. As a second step, the company decided to provide clear solutions to the quality and trust issues that plague the freelance market. By making their Terms of Service public and introducing transparent policies and charges, the duo made sure that they were playing the game right, since day zero. Aiding them in this endeavor are the two recent additions to the team – Bhavya and Gayathri who look after lead acquisitions and operations. “Lead acquisition is an important part of every startup journey, and if you do it well you can survive the drought period easily”, says Bhavya. Gayathri adds to this: “With the internet being what it is now, there are many more channels open for startups to promote themselves and acquire new leads. It is a challenge, but it is also a very achievable goal if you go about it correctly”.
The precedence given to quality over quantity is also evident in their financial model. Ubika says that “as a bootstrapped startup that believes in setting up a sustainable business, we evaluate the ROI of all our expenses. Quality is always priority”. So, aren’t there any challenges at all? Kunal has the answer this time and he says that the biggest challenge InstaTaskers faces are maintaining a good vendor base with the right mix of pricing, quality, timeliness, and responsiveness. Despite tough days, the founders still have their moments in the sun. Words of appreciation from their clients and freelance experts keep them going. In particular, they remember an email sent by a Tasker that carried them through toughest times. It read “I don’t know how to put this but must say that InstaTaskers is the best thing that has happened to me, especially when I was in a desperate need for something to boost my self-esteem and morale. The writing assignments that guys shared with me pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me to learn a lot… you trusted me and shared the best leads with me and I am totally indebted for that. Be it negotiations or payments I never ever faced any issues.”
It does seem like the pair has seen it all and has the grit and gumption to sail through anything. A thought pops – would they any advice to give to fellow startup aficionados? Eager nods tell you they have had this conversation before. It begins: handpick your team one person at a time, build a strong product that doesn’t need to be ribbon-wrapped to be sold, look for small achievements and celebrate them. “And don’t forget to laugh”, Ubika pitches in. Truth be told, her sense of humor has quite a reputation of its own, but it does keep the two sane in trying times. In fact, it’s the hallmark of a good CEO, says she.
So, where does InstatTaskers go from here? There are plans to build a robust internal team and the founders are avidly looking for whiz kids to fill tech and marketing roles. “We have already covered the stages of ideation, conceptualizing, commitment and validation. Scaling up is the main focus for next couple of years”, says Kunal, and you can almost see the light bulb glow, once more.
Mother, entrepreneur, wife, right wing supporter by blood, feminist by choice, book worm by habit and finicky in her approach to Life – Ubika is the co-founder of InstaTaskers. An IIMA 2008 alum and ex-investment banker, Ubika has always been interested in seeing businesses grow. This includes her 7-year stint with Lodha Group which grew exponentially during her stint to become the largest real estate developer in India. Her contribution to InstaTaskers – a steady growth of 10% per month in its first year of existence!
An engineer by degree, a businessman by blood, and a startup aficionado by choice – Kunal Modi is the soft-spoken man at the helm of InstaTaskers. His strong business sense (honed by an MBA from the Narsee Monjee Institute) belies his childlike love for cars, food, and unending vacations. His first love – helping young entrepreneurs find the perfect freelancer for their business and solutions to their startup’s growing pains.