Startup Name: SkillMate
Tagline: Connect Skillfully
Founders: Arjun Khera, Anil Khera and Gitanshu Soni
Year of founding: June 24, 2016
Funding Status: Bootstraping
We all have an inner person who wants to read photography, or baking, or yoga, or calligraphy etc. and in our busy hectic schedule we don’t remember the existence of that inner person.
Now you can open the door to let you learn that new skill you always wanted to learn, with just swipe. Yeah! Swipe in Tinder style. Learn a new skill, Teach your talents to people near you, unleash yourself with SkillMate.
Skillmate works on three pillars – Teach, Learn and Partner. Teach your skill to a neighbor for a fee, Learn a new skill by finding a teacher near you and Partner up with another like-minded people for group activity. The app functions as a marketplace of Teachers, Learners and Partners.
Some of the most interesting features are
- The app is designed in Tinder model where you can search for people around you and swipe right or left. Filter profiles based on age, gender, distance etc.
- The app comes with a Trust Meter which verifies the profile and ensures credibility.
- In-app chat features which enables users to chat before finalizing the deal.
- Rate and get rated by the users
Skillmate was co-founded by Arjun Khera – B.Tech, MBA, Winner of national level competitions like LG Smartphone Idea Camp, Times App Search Contest, Manthan Awards; Anil Khera – Have three decades of IT experience with leading organizations like Wipro, NIIT, Ramco; and Gitanshu Soni – Ex-KPMG and alumnus of Great Lakes Institute of Management.
Speaking about the inception of the idea, the founders said, “In school, we always have group of people to play with, but one of the problems of growing up is that most of us stop playing. It gets difficult to find people with common interests. So we thought of creating a platform where people not just talk about skills and talents, but also learn from each other. It is like Tinder but for sharing and learning new skills. That’s how the idea of Skillmate came to us.
The team did an extensive research prior to prototyping in order to understand what the problem statement from the users. And they found 80% of students have problems in finding a partner to engage in a common hobby. 75% wanted to learn something new, or teach something they knew and earn some money, but didn’t know how to do it. 90% prefers to engage in hobby with someone who lives in nearby locality.
The major deterrents for users were proximity, credibility and trust. The challenge was to provide a feasible solution to such issues through our app while ensuring that it is convenient and fun to use. And, “We overcame this challenge by taking a user centered design approach. A clean UI/UX and apt functionality allowed us to give the users an option of selecting their apt skillmate.”, said the founders.
The company had a great start where they won Times App Search contest even before the app was officially launched. The app was launched on June 24, 2016 and are nearing 1000 downloads milestone. Interestingly they have rating of 4.9 average in Google Play Store. And the secret recipe behind maintaining the high rating is, “Build the app in way users want.” SkillMate is user designed app, before developing the app the app the founders did an entensive research to get suggestions on features, UI/UX etc.
The app currently focuses on two revenue models: In-app purchase and Affiliate Marketing. SkillMate has presence all over India especially in metros like Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi NCR etc. But the team is currently doing active promotions in Delhi NCR and soon will start promoting PAN India. Also they are planning to launch an integrated in-app market for skill and hobby products.
SkillMate is competing with players like UrbanClap, UrbanPro and Brigge. Speaking about SkillMate’s USP to outpace from its competitor, the founders said,
“We are the first ones to feature a partner category and that really makes us a lot different from the rest of the platforms. Eg: You can find your badminton, cycling partner inside the app.
We have no onboarding charges for teachers i.e. no commission or registration fees is taken from teachers.
We are also a no intrusion platform, where one can initiate a chat in app without giving away their phone numbers or email address.
We are the first ones to give teachers an option to select their students and hence become different from other service providers in the market.
The distinction between professionals and hobbyists further divides the market. Not every good cook has to be a chef to teach their signature dish to someone. This opens doors to talented students, homemakers, freelancers to teach their skills to others nearby.”
The company raised 5 lakh rupees to kick start the operations and currently they are bootstrapping. The founders say,
“Bootstrapping the company till you raise significant funds is a tough choice but it definitely teaches you a lesson on how money needs to be spent (be it yours or investors). It helps you to prioritize things, because you can’t lavishly spend on everything. You learn to compromise and improvise at same time. You also learn that little means do not boil down to the end. You are constantly challenged to think out of the box and make the best out of financial resources are available.”
Speaking the journey with SkillMate, the founder opens up that,
“The biggest learning so far is that every day will be a new challenge but one should face them with zeal, enthusiasm and positivity in order to make his journey exciting.”
He believes in Steve Jobs quote,
“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”
And the tip for the newbie entrepreneur is,
“My tip to a newbie entrepreneur is to stop finding an idea to start. Think of a problem that surrounds you and devise a solution. That for me is how a product is born.”
The article was first published in The Cofounder. The Cofounder is India’s first print magazine which writes about early stage startups and entrepreneurship.