It is vital for technology companies to listen to the market – then be brave enough to pivot when required.
UniTaskr founders Joseph Black and Oliver Jacobs have pivoted their ‘task app’ several times over the last two years and are now reaping the rewards.
UniTaskr connects students with employers ranging from Spotify to the NHS, who pay for skills such as digital marketing, design, proofreading and photography.
The app has accelerated from 4,000 members, 7,000 tasks and £150,000 in work income opportunities created during 2020 to 200,000 members, 190,000 tasks and £10.7 million in opportunities during 2021.
“One of the most important lessons we learnt in our early days was being able to appreciate when something is not working and having the courage to pivot and take a new approach,” explains CEO Black to TechBlast.
“Often founders hold their idea very close to their heart and unfortunately don’t pivot in time. Our advice would be to accept when something is not working, closely identify why and be open-minded to change. Change can sometimes be for the better.
“When we first launched [in 2016] our app was called UniDosh and set up as a student-only platform – the idea being for students to earn and save money by both selling and purchasing other students’ services. Having spent a year and a half attempting to get this platform trading, we established that whilst students are extremely eager to earn money and take on freelance tasks, they did not want to spend money.
“This encouraged us to open up the buying side of the platform to households and businesses who perhaps had access to a greater expendable income who also were looking to cut costs by hiring young talent. This pivot allowed us to remain true to our core value by only allowing students to earn money – however bringing in the money from the wider public.
“Being a tech company, constant pivots are required in line with user behavior and requests to streamline how our members use and get the most out of the platform.”
The young entrepreneurial duo has secured £1.25 million in funding after scaling its monthly recurring revenue by 1,900% over the last 18 months to six figures. Key to the angel funding was the prior launch of ‘SHOUT by UniTaskr’, a dedicated nano-influencer agency that connects leading brands with tens of thousands of readily engaged students.
Working closely with household names including Iceland, Redbull and Groupon, SHOUT by UniTaskr is fast-becoming an influential agency within the growing, nano-influencer space – recently positioned by TikTok as the largest nano-influencer organisation worldwide with an estimated combined reach in excess of 500 million followers.
“That was another large pivot for us,” says Black. “We found a way to build our own largest client through being able to provide hundreds of students with short-term money-earning opportunities at once by requesting them to share content across their social media for brands looking to target a wider student audience in a highly authentic way.
“SHOUT by UniTaskr was one of the first movers in the nano-influencer space – the reason being influencers are exceptionally hard to manage, monitor and pay in volume. Fortunately, the UniTaskr platform was primed to help achieve just that!
“There have been many amendments made to help simplify the process; however, having tested the concept with our own brand and having achieved the rapid growth we did, we knew we had something special.
“SHOUT by UniTaskr was recently identified by TikTok themselves as perhaps having the largest network of nano-influencers worldwide.”
Headquartered in London with offices in Manchester, UniTaskr now employs a team of 24 individuals, with five based in India. It is currently recruiting for 10 roles which will take its headcount to 34 by the end of March, with further hires planned for Q3 and Q4.
Black says fundraising to enable such hires is incredibly time-consuming and requires a great deal of preparation to execute successfully.
“For our initial funding round, we relied on the support of family and friends, which led to a number of experienced, independent investors taking up a stake in the company. These investors were all acquired via the UK Angel Investment Network,” he says.
“As the business has become more established, the task of acquiring new investors has become easier, given the results that we have achieved.
“Angels in our experience tend to be more hands-on, something we wanted in our early days. We are open to venture capital funding in our next round, now that we’re far more developed and have the appropriate infrastructure.
“We plan on going out for our Series A funding round later this year.”