SquadRun: Uprooting traditional BPO workforce by on-demand jobs

How does one convert people who are connected digitally and looking for freelance jobs into a high quality workforce? – by training and connecting them with e-commerce companies. Squadrun, a 5 year old start-up in India, is trying to create mobile workforce.  In doing this, it would help run companies like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal much more efficiently and reduce their operating cost. Like Uber and Airbnb, which disrupted the taxi industry and housing market respectively, Squadrun is disrupting traditional Business Process Outsourcing industry.

Background –

In India, as elsewhere, e-commerce companies upload millions of product listings of the sellers. For quality (data curation, categorization) and compliance (avoid pornography and other offensive materials), companies require human validation of listings. Particularly, in the peak season, the number of product listing spikes and the turnaround time to validate the listings leaves many companies gasping for air. The problems with the present BPO sector are: it can’t be scaled to reduce turnaround time of product listing checks, and quality is always questionable as they have a fixed set of trainers who trains BPO employees. If there is a high quality distributed workforce, the time interval to check can be reduced significantly and the cost for the company could be slashed many levels lower than the present.

Squadrun business model –

If an e-commerce player needs to check the quality of images before uploading them to their site, Squadrun is available to do that. Squadrun then outsources the task to freelancers through their application. The freelancer (user) can download their app, and have to complete few qualifier missions for Squadrun to understand the kind of tasks they are capable of doing. “There is a matching algorithm that understands what the task is and gives it to the right user. Once the task is done, there are certain quality checks. Our output is usually over 98 per cent accurate,” Apurv Agarwal, founder of Squadrun, informs a newspaper. The company claims that the mobile workforce is 45000 strong, and it has 5000 active users performing atleast a task in a day.

The company further adds that users of the app earn minimum of $3 an hour in India. The exact renumeration depends upon the complexity of the task. Apurv continues, “For example, at Snapdeal, the sellers upload about a million products in a day. Each product needs to go through 12 different data operations before it goes live, and many more even after it goes live such as correct image, correct description, open tags that helps in search, correct categories, etc. These are the kind of tasks Squadrun users can help the company with. The users, in turn, can get additional income.”

Squadrun presently has broken even, and looking to expand the business to other markets in Canada and US. The company has risen some funding to an extent of $5 million last month. Squadrun creates value by providing solutions to massive business problems and acts as a source of secondary income for the masses (freelancers). Squadrun captures value by charging business according the volume of data that needs to be structured.

Conclusion

In the long run, more and more people would be connected to online. Also, many e-commerce companies would emerge across advanced and emerging markets. They have to reduce cost on their data quality and compliance checks on product listings. This places early players like SquadRun in a very advantageous position. They are a new market low-end disruptive innovator who could scale up quickly in the coming years.

 

References:

http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/startup-firm-squadrun-to-expand-global-footprint/article8314588.ece

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/startups/squadrun-aims-to-create-million-freelance-jobs-100-customers/articleshow/48138656.cms

http://m.thehindubusinessline.com/info-tech/bpos-worried-as-ondemand-workforce-startups-boom/article8887602.ece (July 22, 2016)

http://www.businessinsider.in/SquadRun-The-startup-thats-helping-the-likes-of-Flipkart-and-Snapdeal-become-profitable/articleshow/56514625.cms (Jan 13, 2017)

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