Japanese freelancing platform Ikkai looks to expand into Southeast Asia

Wed Jul 26, 2017 - 8:03am GMT+0000
Japanese freelancing platform Ikkai looks to expand into Southeast Asia
Ikkai Founders Thomas Pouplin (Left) and Yasmin Djoudi (Right)

Student freelancing platform Ikkai announced today that the startup has raised 20 million yen (about US$180,000) from a group of angel investors.

The Fukuoka-based startup will use the newly raised financing to expand into Tokyo where it will be able to reach more students, in addition to hiring software engineers to launch an iOS app and improve data gathering more efficiently.

Yasmin Djoudin and Thomas Populin, two foreign students in Japan initially founded the website in 2016 to help match students with individuals who needed to hire someone to perform odd jobs.

After a few months, the two realized that the website was increasingly used by corporates to recruit students for short term jobs rather than individuals who needed help with personal chores.

Ikkai then started focusing on bridging corporate clients and student freelancers, as this not only provide the companies the assistance needed for short-term projects, students can also gain work experience in preparation for future job prospects.

“Our mission is to make it simple for students to find jobs that they can squeeze into their busy schedules without having to sacrifice anything. We also want to give individuals and companies a reliable way to tap into this underutilized workforce because students are very motivated to take on these tasks,” explained Djoudi.

Additionally, the startup also gathers a lot of relevant data in the process, which could be useful job market insights to forecast the skills and personality traits employers are looking for.

Unlike Upwork or Fiverr, Ikkai caters to only Japanese and international student freelancers who have graduated high school. All jobs are paid on a per-project-basis, in which it takes a 20 percent cut.

Currently, ikkai hosts 157 client accounts and over 1,500 student freelancers on its platform, with a gross merchandise volume of around US$180,000 last month. Over 200 jobs have been completed so far, with one job requiring 70 students to complete.

For the firm’s expansion plan, Ikkai is currently eyeing more Japanese cities beyond the nation’s capital. But looking ahead, the firm would like to expand to other markets including Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as China.

“Concerning China, yes it’s in our plan but not with our marketplace service. The Chinese market already has big players in the sharing economy and we won’t probably be able to compete on that side. But ikkai has another service — using the data from the sharing economy to allow companies to do data driven recruiting,” said Pouplin.

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Vivian Foo is a reporter who writes about Southeast Asia’s technology and startup space. The entry point which led her to write about the startup ecosystem was her fascination of the dot-com boom. She is taking a deep dive into how the entrepreneurial mindset works and hopes to share the insights, innovation, and stories of the startups with her readers.