A socially-responsible approach to crowd-sourcing: MobileWorks

logo_brain mobileworksThe world of work is becoming increasingly flexible. More and more workers are choosing to work away from offices, and outside the world of traditional employment, and more companies are choosing to tap into that flexible resource, and hire the talent they need from wherever it is currently located. That idea is all very well when companies just need one or two people. But what about when they need more?

One trend that we have discussed before is the rise of crowd-sourcing, and that it’s a resource that companies really need to tap into. But how, you’re thinking, can you recruit a team of people to work on a project on a crowdsourcing basis, and know that they’ll be able to do the job well? MobileWorks is a company which is aiming to fill that niche, and in a socially-responsible way as well.

A socially-responsible business model

MobileWorks aims to match underemployed and unemployed people from around the world with companies that have work that needs doing. The company suggests that it’s rewriting the rules on outsourcing. It vets potential staff from around the world, and then puts them in touch with companies who need their skills. Workers receive a fair wage, and the opportunity to learn valuable skills. The company’s mission is to alleviate poverty by providing meaningful access to digital work at fair wages. It particularly aims to employ young people, women and unemployed populations.

It’s the brainchild of three graduates of the University of California, Berkeley – Dave Rolnitzky, Anand Kulkami and Prayag Narula. It began as a graduate school project, but has now been through the start-up accelerator Y-Combinator, and raised over $2.1 million from, among others, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Ohanian notes that MobileWorks demonstrates that there is a proven economic model to pay workers well. It’s not just an emotional win, but also a financial one, because people all over the world are signing up to work for the company. And that decision is paying off for them: Imran, from Kenya, has now saved enough from his MobileWorks pay to put himself through business school in the UK, and is studying for an MBA.

One main product

At the moment, MobileWorks has one main product, leadGenius, which provides bespoke lead generation services, helping businesses to grow. The thinking behind this idea is that as a small business, you probably want your sales staff to focus on existing customers and on closing deals. Yes, they could spend time doing research about potential customers, but then they don’t have time to do the really lucrative stuff. So it makes sense to get someone else to do the lead generation. And it’s not enough to just buy a list of businesses in the area, and then email them all. You need to take time to find out who is senior enough in the organisation to make decisions and then target them. leadGenius can do this research for you. A team of leadGeniuses, as they are known, will be put together from around the world to carry out the detailed research that you need and find you a list of potential customers, with suitable contact details. The team can even do the first stage of making contact for you, sending out a customised email to potential customers. Your sales team can then focus on what they do best: following up leads and closing deals.

So what sort of people work for leadGenius and MobileWorks? They’re generally either college graduates, or working towards a college degree. And there’s a career structure: staff can become Premier Managers and Project Leads, giving them more responsibility for managing their own projects, and the opportunity to grow within the business.

It’s not just the workers that get a fair deal, either. There are plenty of company testimonials on MobileWorks’ website, from well-known companies including ebay. They’re obviously happy with the talent matching service provided.

Moving with the moment

MobileWorks is tapping into one of the key trends of the moment: a vast and underemployed, but highly capable workforce which is geographically distant from the companies that need it. But by doing so in a way that is fair to those it employs, it is demonstrating that it is possible to be socially responsible and still operate an economic business model. More, it’s showing that operating a socially-responsible business model makes sound economic sense. It’s an idea that is likely to gain more and more traction over the next few years.

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2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Hi Melissa,

    Thanks for the shout out. Just a correction, we have three co-founders, Dave Rolnitzky is the third co-founder also from UC Berkeley.

    Thanks,
    Prayag

  2. Puni Rajah

    Melissa Leffler

    Reply

    Hi Prayag,

    Thanks very much for your message, and for the correction. You’ll see that we’ve changed the article – and apologies for getting it wrong the first time!

    Best wishes,

    Melissa

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