The founders of ID Work are having a good year. Not only were they selected earlier this year as Seedstar World’s best South African startup for offering a creative solution to unemployment, the two founders have also just returned from an Investec and Ennovate global exposure trip, after making the cut as one of the country’s most exciting young startups.
The online and mobile platform which gives independent home service providers like electricians, plumbers and handymen an opportunity to showcase themselves was founded by two young entrepreneurs, Arjun Khoosal (25) and CEO Sayo Folawiyo (26) in 2014.
“We use technology to make it easy for informal service providers to do what they do best. When that happens, the employer is guaranteed a much better experience than they have become used to,” says Folawiyo.
Homeowners are able to find service providers by searching and connecting with service providers’ profiles. Each of the service providers is vetted by ID Work which currently only operates in the Gauteng area.
“We have over 300 [service providers] on our books and have served over a thousand customer leads,” says Folawiyo.
Pain points and opportunities
The ID Work team.
Independent artisans in South Africa have a notoriously difficult time being considered as professionals and also gaining access to home workers, combined with the difficulty homeowners face in finding help makes for “an exceedingly antagonistic and mistrustful experience for both parties,” says Folawiyo.
“The motivation behind the business was the belief that giving everybody the dignity and accountability of a professional track record results in better experiences, business growth and increased employment,” says Folawiyo.
The enormity of this particular pain point ensures there is plenty of opportunity to innovate and make the experience better, he says.
“Everyone needs work done, all the time. So, the more we get it right, the easier it becomes.”
For the past two years, Investec and E-nnovate have been taking South Africa’s top entrepreneurs on global exposure trips to the top ten entrepreneurial ecosystems in the world including Israel and Silicon Valley and Seattle in the US in an effort to increase cross border exposure and collaboration between startups and investors.
From the experience Folawiyo says they had the opportunity to gain direct access to some of the best startups in the world .
“It was great to meet and talk to these global leaders and see a bit of the mechanics of how they operate. It got all of us thinking about how we can make our own version of this. How we [can] push to make big and operationally excellent organisations with the best people.
“One key thing that kept coming up was that a way to do this was to set very strong values early and to pay attention to building up a culture that is a living part of the company.”
Getting the work done
“We are a long way from success,” says Folawiyo. There is still a lot that they want to achieve, he says. “I would hope to answer this question three to five years down the line,” he says. Right now they are obsessed with making a great product that solves a real problem unique to their environment, he says.
They are dealing with the challenges of working in a fast moving environment – plenty of startups recognising opportunities that the home construction industry offers.
Keeping on top of resources has been a big hurdle from a financial and human perspective. It requires pretty good planning and creativity when things go off plan. “There is no substitute for getting things done.”
Also dealing with challenges that come standard with running a startup, including its unpredictability . “Nothing happens quite the way you’d plan it no matter how long you plan it for.”
Surround yourself with the best
The local entrepreneurship ecosystem has been good to them, however they would like other young startup founders to also make it through the ranks. “It would be great to see more young people giving it a go and getting involved in the ecosystem. There is so much opportunity to make a real dent in our society and so many smart and driven people.”
Their advice for other startups is to use a strategy that has worked for them: adopt a learning mindset. “The best option to learn is by doing it. The second best is to get in a room where you are surrounded with people that are doing it and that inspire you and learn from them.”