I’m Mike, the founder of gigexchange.com
This is the story of our journey and our why.
By day (and some nights/weekends) I am a Network & Security Contractor. In simple terms, that means I make the internet work and keep your money safe. In reality though, I’m a gig worker.
How did I get from geek to founder?
Well, contractors and freelancers are pseudo-entrepreneurs by nature. We have kicked off the safety shackles of ‘secure’ permanent employment for the crazy ride of being our own boss and determining our own destiny.
There are pros and cons associated to this, which I won’t go into here. But the biggest change I found when first starting my contractor lifestyle five years ago, was my attitude to work and the change in mind-set required to be successful.
I have always given my best in every job I performed, but when you’re a contractor, your reputation is everything. My first gig was like going back to school again. No matter how good you are, you are generally only as good as your last gig.
Once you step out of the security of a permanent role, you begin seeing a whole new world of opportunity. The biggest takeaway I can offer to anyone thinking of doing something (after due diligence etc…) is don’t let fear stop you, then take action to accomplish your goals.
Nike are onto it. ‘Doing’ is everything!
gigexchange was conceived while working my current gig in Cyber Security at one of NZ’s leading banks.
The side gig, or side hustle, is commonplace in NZ within the contractor and freelancer world. It’s about juggling extra projects after hours or the weekend, outside of your ‘day job’ for extra cash.
While working at the bank alongside highly skilled permanent employees, I saw and heard many of them chasing overtime or on-call allowance for extra cash.
One friend’s story, in particular, was the penny drop moment. The original business idea was to develop a specialist marketplace for IT professionals to carry out their IT side gig/hustle for the huge number of small and medium NZ businesses needing access to these skilled staff (currently unavailable).
As the idea developed, I soon realised this should not be limited to IT, instead the whole gig economy in New Zealand.
I am a firm believer in making your own luck in certain aspects of life. But here I definitely got lucky having one of my best friends as a super talented and highly skilled full stack web developer.
I first contacted G (the legendary developer), to see if he was keen. He was off on holiday the next day, so I was in for an agonising 7 days until he returned from his holiday, (respect is a big thing for me, I didn’t want to interrupt that).
In that time I had purchased around 20 top level domains.
While he was on holiday, I contacted good friends who I knew could add immediate value as skilled legal eagles, business owners, but also investors. They saw the potential and signed up on the spot, the business was born.
Bringing gigexchange to life
When G returned, we caught up (the next day) and I explained my vision. The moment when I saw the penny drop with him will live with me forever.
Soon, he began designing and building a powerful Angular PWA, scaled to compete globally, technically on-par with leading world class sites. The internet is a beautiful leveller for digital start-ups.
Chester (our amazing designer) created the brand logo and theme, the vision was live.
I approached a few other close friends to ask them to join the business family we were creating. Everyone signed up. There is always risk with any new business venture, but I wanted to create a real spirit for the whole team, whereby we were all vested to succeed and hopefully enjoy the path to a successful and socially responsible business.
Over time, the scope of the project creeped dramatically. Thankfully, G and Chester have been agile and skilled enough to respond to this. We realised to deliver a truly world class product, we needed to build a digital ecosystem.
We needed to build a unique marketplace offering all ways of working, including gigs, conventional jobs & volunteering. Each linked by our reputation and review system. This we believed would provide a marketplace that mutually benefits each other. My biology degree had finally come in handy!
Leveraging the ecosystem of talent
I began to realise the magnitude of marketing this product. We had a fairly healthy budget available to advertise, thankfully due to our in-house developer and designer operating the greatest NZ side hustle to date. But we were lacking the in-house skills for digital marketing and implementation. We also needed to create some animated videos for explainers and social marketing.
Wanting to break with convention (same principle as our site) I was hopeful we could find the professionals we needed ourselves. I had already begun linking with contractors, freelancers, business owners etc. so when I got a response from Bradley Pratt in regards to the video animation, all my dreams were answered. Not only did we have on-board a highly skilled animation designer, we were operating in the model we wish to embed in NZ and overseas.
I got lucky again, when I realised that old friends had the perfect skills and values for marketing our product. In return we could promote their services.
Through all of this, it dawned on me that there was an opportunity to add a ‘promote’ service within the gigexchange too. We are an ecosystem that is reliant on clients looking for work to be done, or workers to join their businesses. What if we allow businesses (individual or companies) to self-promote their services? But we validate them through our marketplace reviews? I saw the win for those services that rely on trust and immediate availability ie babysitters, pet feeders, handyman and tradies.
As a gig worker myself, when my contract is up for renewal, I have nowhere to promote my service at the time I most need it. Companies can now find workers for free! Consumers can find skilled professionals available at specific times which suit the service provider. This could be ideal for tradies and the like…
The values we are built upon
Respect and integrity are hugely important to us. Very early on, I was conscious of the negatives and exploits associated with the current gig economy. I am committed to ensuring we provide a marketplace that promotes fairness and equality. I want to allow clients from anywhere in the world to access world class service providers, at prices that promote fairness.
The term win-win erupted from the conscious no-exploit vision. I am determined that gigexchange is to lead the global approach to a fairer way of working. I truly believe most businesses are beginning to value integrity and equality alongside profit and operating. As a business we want to increase opportunities to all, but not exploit at the same time. If everyone is winning, we the marketplace/ecosystem will flourish too.
Having a son who needs a little extra help in life, has certainly allowed me to see the world from a different perspective. He has helped forge this value into the gigexchange’s modus operandi. Our customer is both the client and the service provider. Both are equally important to the success of the business. For gigexchange, both the client and the service provider must be winning. This is our raison d’etre. Empowering the win-win was born.
It was a natural progression to include volunteering. From an ‘all ways of working’. Volunteering is essentially the free gig economy. But more importantly, our economy encompasses charities and community groups. Our social responsibility is to embrace, reward, recognise and give back as much as we can.
Hopefully you are reading this and you have embraced us and our message in the spirit we had hoped for.
The challenge with launching any new business is gaining the customers trust, respect and validation of the product. We hope we have gained yours. We hope we can empower your win by finding workers or finding work.
Because we understand and care. We will make it fair.