Case study: Making Fiverr a social enterprise

Photo by 𝓴𝓘𝓡𝓚 𝕝𝔸𝕀 on Unsplash

As someone who works in tech, I’m a big believer in what tech has done, doing and will do in the future for our society. We have seen how companies like Amazon and Google have given a tremendous amount of value to consumers all around the world while offering employment to thousands of people. We live in a time of rising prosperity where products and services are becoming cheaper and more accessible to everyone and the internet has brought us an ever-increasing rate of exchanging ideas and innovation.

We are wealthier, healthier, happier, kind, clear, more peaceful, more equal and longer-lived than any previous generation — The Rational Optimist

Now overall we are moving in the right direction, however, I think many can agree we can still do a lot better in many areas such as climate, animal products, education, health, low-income individuals and the list goes on. Therefore, I put myself to the task, to take existing concepts like for this article Fiverr and brainstorm a few ideas on how we can create a new startup that is social impact-driven. My goal is not to create pitch-perfect business models, but rather to inspire others to come up with their own ideas.

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My objectives

  • Do some basic research about Fiverr and industry
  • Decide on a social mission to pursue
  • Choose target beneficiaries
  • Brainstorm using the canvas I created
  • Decide on ways to minimally test the solution before investing more time and money

Total time spent: 70 minutes

Twenty — A work marketplace for social good

I named this hypothetical idea Twenty since I decided to use Fiverr as a case and focus on US low wage workers and the key mission would be to offer an hourly salary that is higher than the US minimum national level threshold. Instead of focusing on a global market, I chose the US low wage workers explicitly, firstly because it’s important to create a value proposition that fits a smaller market. The second reason being I was quite surprised to find that 44% of all workers qualified as “low-wage” in the US, meaning this is a big social problem to solve.

In this article, I’m not going through all of the canvas categories. Unfortunately, on Medium the Miro canvases look unreadable, to access them please follow this link: https://miro.com/app/board/o9J_lVpdUqQ=/?moveToWidget=3074457354480915853&cot=14

Target beneficiaries

As mentioned above my focus is on the US low wage workers, but that is already a huge segment to start with that consist of many types of people with different backgrounds, skillsets and pain points. Therefore, I decided to focus on women and black workers as there is ample evidence of labour discrimination and overrepresented among low-wage workers.

Beneficiaries pains and gains

With a combination of basic research and assumptions, I listed out some basic pains and gains:

  • Often lack skills tailored to the local market
  • Discriminated by employers due to their culture, colour and sex
  • Works many jobs at the same time since paid below living standards
  • Often have kids to also take care of

Target customers and their pains

On this one, I was shooting from the hips, assuming that the target would be startups or companies with tighter budgets, located in an expensive location and looking for remote workers. These companies would have management or employees that have strong social and moral values and/or a customer base with these principles.

Value proposition

A value proposition that would use Fiverr as a baseline while creating value for beneficiaries and customers, I listed some potentials:

  • Platform targeted at hiring low wage black women
  • Strict requirements on a minimum hourly salary
  • Customers can hire beneficiaries for shorter and longer timeframes
  • Run regular checkups with customers and beneficiaries to keep high satisfaction and quality
  • Offer online training courses for the beneficiaries

Channels

To reach the beneficiaries there will be many ways, some I added was to target communities where beneficiaries are present, this could be certain geographic areas or even more specific like at hairdressers etc. Another helpful method would be to partner up with organisations that work with beneficiaries. To reach the target customers, I would get in contact with HR or management using cold calling and reaching out to my network for introductions.

Minimum testable solution

Before spending a lot of money and time in developing a software solution, make sure that you have some validation about the problem, target market and your value proposition. In this situation, one test I would run is to manually gather a dozen or so beneficiaries profiles and then get in contact with potential customers and showcase these profiles to them. By taking this step you will learn whether your hypothetical target customers would be interested in hiring your target beneficiaries. You will also have the opportunity to understand a lot more about their pain points and needs.

Twenty — Provider of quality sales and customer support workers

The previous idea was focused on creating a marketplace to connect low-wage black women to companies looking for talents. Below, I add another solution that could tailor to our target beneficiaries and customers. To access the canvas please follow this link: https://miro.com/app/board/o9J_lVpdUqQ=/?moveToWidget=3074457354480916430&cot=14

Value proposition

For this idea, we move away from a Fiverr type marketplace and instead towards running extensive training courses for our beneficiaries focusing on sales and customer support. We could make the beneficiaries our employees and hire them out to customers or act as a recruitment agent to find customers that would hire the beneficiaries.

  • Offer 4–6 weeks training course in sales/customer support to beneficiaries
  • Hire Beneficiaries or act as a recruitment agent
  • We run regular checkups with customers and beneficiaries to keep high satisfaction and quality
  • Customers can hire beneficiaries for shorter and longer timeframes

Minimum testable solution

To test this idea, I would try to get a letter of intent (LOI) from potential customers to validate interest is there. If you can stretch it, even more, get some customers to pay upfront with the promise that you will deliver a cohort of talent with a money-back guarantee promise. Next, train a small cohort of beneficiaries and then introduce them to your warm leads and customers.

A call to action

The above ideas have a lot of assumptions to be tested and may never get off the ground and that’s fine since it takes many iterations to find a problem-solution fit that is viable. How would you make Fiverr into a social enterprise?

Co-Founder of Jumanji Lab