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ANNETTE MULLER, Paving the Way for Women in Tech.
The founder of Flexy, an online platform for on-demand workers and one of Forbes Magazine’s top female entrepreneurs in the tech space in 2014.
MBA 062: ANNETTE MULLER, Paving the Way for Women in Tech.
Elevator Pitch: Who is Annette Muller?
Annette would describe herself as an entrepreneur. She is the founder of Flexy, an online platform for on-demand workers. Forbes Magazine named Annette one of the top female entrepreneurs in the tech space in 2014. She is experimenting with flexi-living – really trying to feel what it is like to be a digital nomad.
Annette feels she was born with entrepreneurial spirit, starting her first business at the age of ten. At boarding school she ran her own little tuck shop. She studied in Spain and at UCT, but was highly disappointed when she didn’t immediately find a job after university. This made her realise that no-one else will make your dream happen for you, you have to do it yourself.
Whenever Annette felt that she had learnt all she could from a company she would move to another with the potential for personal growth. She likes to invest in herself and keep her knowledge current. Annette also mentions that travelling is one of the best investments in yourself that there is.
In her final year at university Annette started a company called StyleSpotted. Essentially it was an app that allowed you to identify items of clothing, similar to what Shazam does with music. Their aim was to build a trend database to eventually sell to a retailer. It was difficult to convince investors of the concept.
Her latest venture, Flexy, was born out of her previous business, DOTNXT, and had been in development for the last four years. She came up with the idea of a network of digital agents in answer of a real problem they faced at DOTNXT. They couldn’t afford to pay someone a full-time salary, but still needed an on-demand workforce. The administration got too much for such a small company to manage. They then started this network of top innovators in South Africa and kept track of their employment on rudimentary spreadsheets.
Unique Selling Proposition
Flexy has a network-based approach as opposed to other job marketplaces like Upwork and Fiverr. These marketplaces are primarily centred around a specific job or project where Flexy is not a job board. Flexy is an on-demand workforce management tool. It works like a booking tool for your on-demand workforce team. This solves what is a very inefficient process at the moment.
Developing the Toolset
It’s especially difficult in the beginning to work with a partnering company. Annette can now identify the pros and cons of doing so. It is to your advantage to be forced to develop very detailed specs. She realised there would be risks involved when working with a company, so they opted for in-house team of developers instead. Annette initially made use of freelancers to get a prototype out.
Multiple Income Streams
They carefully had to consider their business model for longevity as most companies see their fee as a grudge purchase after a while. This prompted them to relook the fee structure. Other similar platforms tend to look after the specialists and look past any problems the hiring companies might encounter. Because Flexy was born out of a company, they could approach this differently. The freelancers do not pay any fees for services rendered.
Tools of the Trade
Annette wants to emphasize that it’s about the mindset rather than the tools when it comes to being a digital nomad. You will need to change some of your deeply set beliefs that some things can only be resolved a certain way. Many things that we hold as truths we very well need to unlearn. They make use of Slack, a cloud-based set of team collaboration tools and services.
Reset Button: If you had to start over in a different industry, what would it be and why?
Annette would have loved to go into medicine, she especially values the technology behind it and the data we have at our disposal. She thinks that deep down she really wanted to be a doctor.
Just do it! What’s the worst that can happen?