Interview with Scott Bennett
A mobile first peer-to-peer application that helps teens find opportunities to work on their terms. Skratch
is a safe and innovative solution that connects teens with opportunities to earn money, develop their early resume and embrace the many benefits that come from being part of the workforce.
Hi Scott! Could you tell us a bit more about Skratch and what led to your founding the company?
Skratch was born out of a couple of different things. The first was that my partner Ronen and myself were having a conversation in late 2015 about our own first work experiences. We were talking as dads about raising our own kids and the importance of those work opportunities. We wanted our kids to be able to test their boundaries. And yet, when we looked at the landscape of what was out there for today's teenager nothing had evolved; there was really no innovation. We found out it was because we were actually in a 40 year decline of teens working. It was a much more alarming realization than the basis of our original conversation. We recognize that today's teenagers expect not only technical advances (being able to leverage mobile devices to find easy access to opportunities), but also new opportunities. We came up with the idea that if teens could do things that they were good at and monetize them through technology, that we could address the problem not only for our kids, but teenagers everywhere. So Skratch was set up to address that problem and really meet today's Gen Z teenager with a first work solution.
How does Sktrach help teens find gigs to build their resume? How do you ensure that Skratch is safe to use for minors?
When we were developing Skratch we really had to consider two unique aspects of the platform. The first was safety above all else, that's mission-critical for both users involved in every transaction. Beyond that, we wanted it to be simple and streamlined for the users. So let's talk about how teens find opportunities- because at the end of the day, that's what all this is really about. Teens opt-in at first registration with skills that they want to share and monetize. For example, maybe they're good at a sport, play an instrument, or just want to perform manual labor. As those opportunities become available in the geographical area that aligns with the teen, they are notified. They can pick and choose those opportunities as they become available. When we think about safety as a platform there's a couple different things we do. First is that we tether a teen’s experience to their parents until the age of 18. So Mom and Dad know about every interaction that a teen is having on the platform, whether it's accepting a gig, completing a gig, or when they’ve gotten paid. Mom and Dad are part of that process. Beyond that, all users on Skratch over the age of 17 go through the state of Texas sex offender registry, meaning that we look at every single registration real-time to make sure that we have the right kinds of people on the platform and that it’s safe for all users. We have a unique filtration system that allows the Sponsor to determine where they want the Skratcher to come from when posting a gig. The goal of all of this is to find the safest and smoothest connection between two parties. We see that as the secret sauce of the business and we take it very seriously.
What are some examples of jobs an individual might find on Skratch? Does the app currently have any partnerships with local employers?
So as we develop Skratch the platform we really have two unique things we have to consider. One was the ease of use of the platform because that's what people expect but even more importantly it is the safety of all users and teens today when they get on Skratch for the very first time they register and self-select into skills that they want to share and monetise. So whether they are good at a sport or a musical instrument or they just like to do manual labour they opt-in at the very beginning and then as those opportunities become available in a teen's area or service area that they are part out they can accept those opportunities. And when we talk about safety which is really critical to everything we do there's a few different things we do as a platform. First and foremost we tether parents experience to their teen until the age of 18 meaning that mom and dad are notified of everything the teen is doing on the platform from gig's they accept and complete to how much money they make. Mom and Dad are along the ride for the process. Beyond that, we screen all users 17+ plus against the state of Texas as a sex offender registry and as we expand world we'll use the federal database. Beyond all that there is a unique filtering process as people post gigs so that they can find a person that they are comfortable with the idea is to set both parties up in a transaction that makes sense that where there's going to be success and most of all that it's going to be safe.
As someone who has started several technology companies over the years, what is the most essential piece of advice you can provide to someone starting a company for the first time?
So as you consider how fast the world is moving, technology plays a huge part in that. I tell people all the time as we've developed the platform, that one of the things I've learned and continued to learn is something that I like to call 'beware of the rapids'. What that really means is that there's rapid change in every day. There's change in the consumer and what they need or expect, so our platform has to change to suit the expectations of people who might potentially invest. The technology itself is rapidly changing. It's like a code base that you're worked with a year ago which seemed so innovative and thoughtful is now outdated. As a developer of technology you have to be okay with the rapids and be able to shift quickly.
From idea to prototype, how long did it take to develop Skratch? What has been the feedback from users?
Once we reviewed what other services were available in the market, it was very clear to that Skratch was going to address teens in the workforce and technology was going to be the solution. We quickly took something from concept to our early access version of the platform in less than six months. The initial feedback was that it was very easy to use. Users liked the idea of being able to leverage their mobile device for this type of experience and service. As it's evolved, we're finding users are weighing in and really helping shape the product. We take their feedback seriously because at the end of the day this is all about users having a great experience. The more we incorporate user feedback, the more that we're able to develop a technology that meets the widest possible audience.
What's next for Skratch? Any new service offerings or partnerships coming up in the last half of 2018?
Skratch is experiencing a lot of receptivity from the market. We have lots of different people who are reaching out to us. We're excited about some potential partnerships with large churches and schools, what we call “whole family-centered organizations”- groups like Boy Scouts, Junior Achievement, some of those organizations have expressed interest in integrating our platform and we're excited to see how that will happen over the last part of 2018. Beyond that, we're excited that we've been selected to participate in a program called BBVA Momentum which is a social impact accelerator in its second year put out by the World Bank of BBVA. What's exciting about this is that it's really going to help us address how we scale and deliver a platform that reaches the widest possible audience. It's always been our vision to bring our mobile solution across the broadest cross-section of the United States and so we're excited about that. Ultimately, by the end of 2018, the release of our Android platform will allow us to expand beyond Dallas and we're looking forward to launching in our second city in the near future. It’s very thrilling for us as a business.