We caught up with FlexiBees – a venture started by three women – Shreya Prakash, Deepa Narayanswamy, and Rashmi Rammohan, all batchmates from IIMB PGP batch of 2008, to understand how they are changing the rules of hiring. We were curious to know how they identified the gap and what did they do about it. We wanted to have a focused conversation that allows us to understand how they discovered and developed unique solutions aligned to the way work and jobs are being redefined.
One sentence description of your business
FlexiBees provides high-quality part-time, project-based and remote-working talent to businesses via experienced women professionals
Motivation to start the venture
At its heart, FlexiBees is a venture that aims to change the way work is done by normalising models like flexi-time, part-time, remote-working, that bring new talent-hiring models to businesses and new ways of living for people.
Each of us had a slightly different motivation to start, but a couple of things were in common: we wanted to solve the problem of talented professionals, such as qualified women wanting to return to work, not being able to find suitable and career-relevant work opportunities that allowed them the flexibility they needed. It seemed like a huge waste of talent. The second thing in common was the business expertise that we had built over the years and which made us very aware of the problems businesses face, as well as potential solutions to those. Very soon after hitting upon the idea, we realised how useful this underutilised talent pool could be for businesses if we could only find a way to shape and fit it to their requirements & constraints. And that’s where the journey began.
Identifying the customer problem
We saw two big problems –
Firstly, businesses today need agile models of hiring that enable them to hire expert talent, quickly and cost-effectively, but they struggle to find this. For example, you could be a startup or a small business wanting to hire good talent but either cannot afford full-time ones, or do not want to commit to full-time talent, or you could be an enterprise wanting to hire specialised skills for projects, or do quick vacancy filling. Both these cases need non-traditional hiring models and access to a pool of high-quality workers who are willing to work flexibly; both of these are unavailable today.
The second big problem is that there is expert talent looking for flexible work options but unable to find them. Chief among these are qualified women who have dropped out of the traditional workforce but are looking for a way back in via flexible options like part-time and remote-working. India’s female labourforce participation is amongst the lowest in the world at 23%, and 48% of women who return from maternity leave quit within the first 4 months, a key reason being lack of flexible work options. It is also a global problem with workforce participation among educated women having dropped even in developing countries over the last decade. Increasingly, even women currently in the workforce, juggling over-stretched schedules, are looking for flexibility and balance, as are emerging segments such as millennials, parents, etc. They do not have many options that do justice to their education and qualifications.
Your solutions to get the job done
FlexiBees is a solution to both the above problems, we provide businesses with expert talent via flexible and affordable models that allow them to hire quickly and cost-effectively AND provide flexible work opportunities for qualified women who want to balance their professional and personal priorities.
- Productivity via our experienced talent that hits the ground running
- Agility via our on-demand models, and can scale up and down quickly
- Cost-efficacy via our pay-per-time-needed part-time and project-based models
- Quality via our deep tech-enabled selection process that ensures a great match for your requirement
Our suite of services include
- Part-time & Remote Talent for on-going roles: Month on month engagements like with any employee, only for 75%, 50% or 25% of the traditional working day, as per the business’s need
- Consultants for short-duration projects: Hours/milestones/output based models that allow businesses to hire specialised skills on-demand
The functions we provide talent for include Sales, Marketing, Digital Marketing, Finance, Technology, Content Development & Design, Learning & Assessment and the like. Our pool of 16K+ women professionals has representation from across pretty much all functions & sectors.
Top three challenges you faced
We experimented with a few matching models at the beginning, and before we designed the one that we use today, we faced a few failures. The most crucial factor that makes our engagements successful is the quality of the match, and we realised through our early failures that it was important to own this process end-to-end in order to deliver a good quality match. Today our biggest differentiator is our deep tech-enabled and proprietary selection process that not only enables a Skill match but also matches on parameters like Time availability, Commitment, etc.
Another aspect that seemed like a challenge at the beginning was the fact that us, the co-founders, were remotely located, in different countries to be exact. We had never heard of something like this. But in time that became one of our biggest advantages, that encouraged us to build a 100% remote company, using our own talent pool of women professionals returning to work. It gave us the same benefits we are able to give to our clients, those of productivity through this experienced job-ready talent pool, cost-efficacy through our part-time & remote ‘no expensive office spaces necessary’ models, and nimbleness through being able to hire on-demand and in a location agnostic manner. More importantly, we have a really engaged and impassioned team that believes in the purpose as much as we do, having lived it themselves. This is invaluable for a growing business.
Most exciting moment of your entrepreneurial journey
It was when we got our first client, a travel tech startup, just a few days after we had put some feelers out there. In fact, we were not even incorporated at that time. They had multiple requirements for part-time and work-from-home Sales professionals, and we were able to find for them talent that had the right domain experience. Several things went wrong in the execution of this project, all of which led to immense learning for us. But none of that took away from the excitement we felt having landed a paid client in the first few days of us putting the idea out.
Advice for first-time entrepreneurs
Well, everyone has their own journey. But if I had to point to one thing that has helped us, it is to have a very agile mindset. We quickly experiment with (MVP) a new feature or model, and if it works with real customers, we incorporate it. We believe that frequent and incremental in-market failures are better than spending a vast amount of time and money in building something internally, where there is a real possibility that it could get rejected by your consumers once it sees light of day. I would urge first-time entrepreneurs to consider this lean, MVP-based approach, popularised by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup, that could end up serving them well in multiple ways.
If you have a talent requirement or if you want to know more, visit us at https://www.flexibees.com/