In mid-June 2015, Hatim Lokhandwala figured he had enough of working in a corporate organisation. The marketing professional realised he was stuck in a silo, and wanted to change the way professionals worked.
He also realised that an employee need not be loyal to any one organisation. With this idea, Hatim set up a platform that would encourage freelancing, now known to the world as the Gig Economy.
Hatim started Crescent Inc, a platform for knowledge workers who don't want to work for one company, in December 2015. He was joined by Pritish Roy as Co-founder at the same time. The company began by signing in professionals around the Pune region, and in 2016, was mainly used by photographers and designers to discover projects. However, over the last three years, the Crescent platform has scaled to over 10,000 projects from over 100 companies, says Hatim.
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“Early on, it was a lot of design and photography work that got projects. Now, our scope has widened to Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and AR. The gig economy is real, and we have people earning anywhere between Rs 25,000 and over Rs 1 lakh for projects,” says Hatim.
Hatim's platform apportions work based on the availability of, and quality of work performed by a gig worker. The platform guarantees individuals who take on gig projects complete their projects, and also that companies pay them on time. The payment is held in an escrow account with Crescent, and only when a company is happy with the quality of work does it get released.
“We are a gig platform for India only, and will focus on developing markets,” says Hatim.
The founder invested his own money in the platform while starting up, and today, the company's revenues are close to Rs 1 crore per annum. Hatim plans to exponentially increase the number of gig workers on the platform and is looking to add 10,000 professionals, as against 1,500 now.
“Times are changing fast, people want to work flexible and want to earn as they go. So, if you are a professional who understands your subject well, then the gig is a real business to be in,” adds Hatim. Crescent’s bigger clients include Uber and Swiggy.
According to Forbes, the US has 57 million professionals who are part of the gig economy. Over 100,000 engineers alone use the New York-based platform Collaborizm to connect with companies and get projects.
Hatim says the future for Crescent is in collaborations within India. There are more than 12 million graduates who pass out of colleges each year, and while all of them are looking for jobs, starting out as part of the gig economy can bring them immediate money.
The gig economy was estimated to be worth $3.7 trillion globally in 2017, according to the Staffing Industry Analysts.