Lemonop Success Story: Freelancing and professional networking app for gen Z

More and more Indian youth today are looking for freelance jobs. As per data, India ranks as the 2nd largest freelance workforce after the US. A major factor that has facilitated the growth in number of freelancer is the emergence of the online freelancing platforms. Also professional networking sites like LinkedIn has made lives easier for those who want to find a part-time or full-time job. Yet another new innovation in this direction is Lemonop. Founded by Sateesh Havannavar, Ramkiran Bhat, and Swaroop Chand, Lemonop is a single platform that acts both as a freelancing platform and professional network. The startup is on a mission to make “Work Finds People” happen.

Lemonop Highlights

  • Startup Name-Lemonop
  • Headquarter-Bengaluru 
  • Founders-Sateesh Havannavar, Ramkiran Bhat & Swaroop Chand
  • Sector-HR Tech + professional network
  • Founded-2017
  • Parent Organization-Makepath Technologies Private Limited

Lemonop - About

Lemonop is a combination of a freelancing platform (Lemonop Gig Engine) and a professional network (Lemonop Twyne). So it is somewhat like a lean Upwork + LinkedIn for people who are in their early career. From the young generation's point of view, it's a single Android mobile app and a mobile website for iOS users. From the companies point of view, Lemonop is a technology platform which simplifies their ability to build on-demand, short term workforce quickly, tap into the energy & skills of digital native GenZ and to spot their future talent early. Companies can also gain from GenZ as consumers because co-creating with this generation is a powerful way to understand, engage and win GenZ.

Lemonop App Screenshots

Taking their innovative vision forward, Lemonop is launching a 'first job' feature based on users' gig and Twyne activities on the platform. Real-world activities or projects done on their initiative is a great way to spot strong talent. This feature will not just add immense value for youngsters by helping in finding their first job, but will also help companies scale their early career hiring beyond the set of colleges they visit.

We not only believe in the efficiency of gig economy for early career training, we also believe the earliest professional network is incredibly valuable - Swaroop quotes

The core belief of this initiative is that the industry & the young generation, who are the future innovators & workforce, will need to come together & collaborate to solve large problems such as employment generation, skill-building, skill gap reduction, etc.

Lemonop - Industry Details

According to the NASSCOM, FICCI, EY report of 2017, 17 million new entrants join the workforce each year and 5.5 million new jobs are created in the same period. This is just the Indian scenario and given that worldwide the numbers are much bigger, Lemonop has a huge scope of growth, as its products are relevant globally.

The industry will see a lot of impact due to exponential technologies, #HumanMachine and due to disruption in education models (e.g. Lambda school). During such times of uncertainties going forward, the Lemonop team see Lemonop & their model as a stabilizing agent to the users (both companies and the young generation).

We also strongly believe that gig work can be the economy’s largest training ground for students and new grads, at the same time enabling them to add immense economic value - Swaroop says explaining the importance of gig work

Lemonop - Founders and Team

Lemonop co-founder & CTO Sateesh Havannavar, - Graduated from B.V.  Bhoomaraddi College of Engineering and Technology with a Bachelor's degree in Engineering. Sateesh has co-founded Talentspear, a HRTech startup in the year 2015, which he exited in 2018. Sateesh held different technical roles with different organizations before starting up his own venture. Sateesh worked as a Senior Java Consultant at SAS, Technical Lead at FICO, Senior Developer at Oracle and a Software Engineer at igate Global Solutions typically where he started off his career.He also worked as a Senior Integration Analyst at UBS for a year.

Swaroop Chand, co-founder & CEO- Graduated from the National Institute of Technology Karnataka. Swaroop has 18 years of experience in software product engineering, product strategy, software services. He has also been a former Director at Oracle Financial Services Software Ltd.

Ramkiran Bhat, prior to Lemonop worked at SpaceMatrix. He is also working as Associate Director of UF Architects, a Architecture & Planning startup

In addition to their roles, Sateesh and Swaroop focus on sales to the demand side (companies) & Ram focuses on community building on the supply side (students & freshers)

How was Lemonop Started

The first spark of inspiration to the founders came from noticing that the college goers of India are keen to do some part-time work, not just the internships mandated by universities but in non-academic areas as well. The youngsters were willing to follow their hearts into unique career paths as well, which does not have much to do with their academic specialization.

Initial  the thoughts were discussed among five people, three of which are now co-founders of Lemonop.

We initially saw an opportunity for tech to help not just to simplify and scale this space, but also add many more values such as giving youngsters the ability to test different industries, hunt for opportunities in an interest / hobby area, build a portfolio of work experiences to improve chances of finding a job soon after college etc - Swaroop speaks on the Lemonop idea

As they researched the space more, they realized that there's so much more that can be done. They could play a significant role in the entire early career ecosystem and help the young generation of India irrespective of their goals being company jobs, solopreneurship or entrepreneurship. As a result, the economy can also benefit from better skill building & employability.

Lemonop- Name, Tagline and Logo

The name Lemonop was inspired by the lemonade stand -- a culture in the western countries where parents help their children prepare lemonade and sell it during summer. The idea is to teach young people about entrepreneurship, customer service, money management, basics of finance, teamwork, etc at an early age. The founders believe that they are peers to collegians, where the lemonade stands as experience for school children.

Lemonop is also a tribute to “LMNOP”, the way we sing the alphabet song.

Lemonop- User Acquisition

Lemonop got its early users by recruiting them manually. They started with the demand side (companies) and went to their own network first. Next, they made walk-in visits to companies of all sizes in a few select areas of Bangalore. That is how they got their first 25-30 companies. They then focused on winning top gigs that they were sure would delight the young users and are truly incredible opportunities. They had gigs like model making, food photography, etc in place.  Once they had such gigs,  they went on to visiting colleges to address the young generation users and when they saw how great the gigs were, Lemonop got its first 500 supply-side users.

After the initial hustle of recruiting early users, they started delighting their users with valuable product features. For example, for the supply side, they added features like a weekly bulletin called Byte to learn cool stuff in 1 min, a series called Rocktalk to help youngsters learn from people who have excelled in unique careers, a finance education series called #LearnMoney to only name a few. These features not only delighted the users but also triggered a bit of word of mouth to generate more than 35K registered users for Lemonop.

Lemonop- Business Model and Revenue Model

For Lemonop, revenue comes from the companies in the form of per-post charges, annual subscriptions or a percentage on top of the total amount disbursed using Lemonop. They do not charge students/freshers anything. Also, they don't take any take rate (percentage cut from their earnings) either.

Lemonop- Startup Challenges

Like all marketplaces, Lemonop too had to face the chicken-and-egg challenge initially -who comes first and why? However, unlike other marketplaces, they couldn't go after their supply-side first. They decided to go after the demand side (companies) first and although there weren't any supply-side users initially. They told the companies that they'll manually go to campuses and tell about their gigs and recruit applicants for their gigs. So basically, they offered their services as a sweetener to the early clients. Their quality of gigs has always been outstanding and when they showed them to students & freshers, a good number signed up to apply. They continued to grow both sides of the marketplace using a mix of hustling with the above model, focusing on extremely high-quality gigs, recruiting users on both sides manually.

Lemonop- Competitors

1010 data, 10 times, 11 online are some of the companies running the same race in the spectrum as Lemonop. Though the market standing might not be that high but these companies have been in the industry for quite a while now.

Lemonop - Growth

Lemonop currently has 35000+ students / freshers and 450+ companies registered with it. Companies have posted gigs for 10+ different cities in the Lemonop platform. As regards clients, Zomato, Whacked Out Media, Dunzo, MTV UP!, Flipkart, Caratlane etc are some big names in Lemonop's client list. It has also partnered with 91Springboard, Innov8 (now OYO Workspaces), Brand Capital and a few more

Lemonop - Future Plans

The short term plan is to grow to over 2 lakh registered users this financial year. The future plan is to expand to multiple cities including select tier 2 and tier 3 cities and introduce work from home / work remote gigs to enable young gen from these cities to do gigs. The insight behind this goal is the fact that great talent can come from any city and any college.

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