Fukuoka-based student freelancer platform ikkai has raised JPY 20 million (US$180,000) from a group of angel investors.
The startup will use the newly minted financing to expand into the city of Tokyo.
Founded in 2016 by overseas students Yasmine Djoudi and Thomas Pouplin, ikkai’s concept first came into being after the duo discovered there was a lack of communication between companies who needed assistance for short-term projects and student freelancers. Students who needed pocket money often had to rely on word-of-mouth to land these short-term projects or they had to seek more traditional part-time jobs.
The duo were then granted startup visas to launch ikkai in Fukuoka.
“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 underutilised workforce because students are very motivated to take on these tasks,” said Djoudi.
Unlike most freelancer platforms like Upwork or Fiverr, ikkai caters to only Japanese and international student freelancers as long as they have completed high school. All jobs are paid on a per-project-basis, not on an hourly rate.
To minimise payment schedule conflicts (a perennial problem in the freelancing sector) all clients are required to deposit the money in escrow on the platform before the task is completed.
Once the student says they have completed the task, the client has 48 hours to lodge any complaints about the work done.
When that happens, one of ikkai’s staff will evaluate the student’s work and determine how much of it was satisfactory to the client (if at all).
“For example, on a cleaning task, if the client complains, we will ask for some pictures of what was done badly. We will estimate with the client to what extent the task was completed. If it was 70 per cent, we [will] only release 70 per cent of the payment to the student and refund the rest,” said Pouplin. He added that there had been no cases of aggrieved clients yet.
ikkai takes a 20 per cent cut on the cost of each project.
“We advertise the price minus the 20 per cent to the students so they know how much they will get paid from the beginning,” added Pouplin.
Currently, ikkai hosts 157 client accounts and over 1,500 student freelancers on its platform. Over 200 jobs have been completed so far, with one job requiring 70 students to complete.
With regards to expansion plans, ikkai aims to launch into Malaysian and Indonesia in the near future, with the rest of Southeast Asia in the long run.
Pouplin also said that China was on the cards but he has a different plan for that market.
“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.
Image Credit: ikkai