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Giving gig workers a platform for change

Posted June 25, 2024

A movie script, a great speech, or lessons learned from your parents or a mentor.

The values that guide us and inspire us can come in many forms and from many sources, even where you least expect them.

Benjemen Elengovan’s approach to life is written on a $5 mass-produced motivational poster which hangs from a wall in his home office.

“Dream big, speak the truth, work hard, treasure your friends and be awesome,” the 35-year-old founder of Lot Fourteen based MyGigsters says reading from the poster during a chat with Boundless.

“As soon as I saw it I thought, that’s the approach that I follow, so I should buy this.”

And it’s an approach that has served him well. Today his financial services software platform MyGigsters, launched in 2020 during the height of COVID, has more than 6000 users, is growing revenue at 200% a month, and has earned him multiple accolades for empowering the financial security and safety of the burgeoning gig worker economy.

Described as a ‘community-driven’ financial services platform, MyGigsters allows gig workers and the self-employed to access financial services and captures real-time data on earnings and expenses so they can maximise their income.

The AI proprietary technology can automatically detect tax deductions based on the users’ gig profile, their expenses and match them with registered tax agents who will lodge GST, BAS and tax automatically. So, giving the self-employed more time to work without worrying about the paperwork.

MyGigsters earns a service fee from accountants who pay to use the solution and the platform has partnerships with dozens of brands including UberEats, DoorDash, HustleCover, Zoomo and RedBookInspect and South Australian businesses like Courier App, Cobber, Crew HQ, Createcrownd and SAMii.

The platform uses third-party integrations such as open banking, document verification providers and large language models and is available for accountants as a white-labelled offering or SAAS product.

With certain partners, MyGigsters has embedded integrations via APIs to facilitate services.

Elengovan employs 12 staff at Lot Fourteen in Adelaide and in Melbourne and overseas where his vision for the startup was borne through trial, error, lived experience and his mantra of dreaming big and working hard.

His startup journey began at age 19, when the then budding biotechnical engineer, set up a medical tourism booking agency in India called Noah’s Ark connecting overseas patients with cheaper medical procedures.

He was ahead of his time, except…“I didn’t know how to run a business so I messed it up”.

The upside was the experience sparked a passion for business and entrepreneurship, and in 2012 he moved with parents to Abu Dhabi to work as a business consultant in areas of organisational planning, business systems and innovation risks.

He became restless, and with the prompting of his Australian boss he moved to Melbourne in 2015 securing a double scholarship for a Masters in Health Administration and Business Administration at La Trobe University.

He walked the well-worn path of many international students, juggling odd jobs to earn some money, ranging from delivery driver to IKEA furniture assembler.

“I think at one stage I had 6 or 7 jobs but I really loved it because it gave me the opportunity to put myself in other people’s shoes and look at life from another angle,” he says.

In 2020, as the pandemic gripped the world, the precarious and unsafe nature of the gig economy was put under the spotlight with the high-profile death of delivery drivers in Melbourne.

At the time Elengovan was working as a business consultant while running another startup called MySafetyBot – an IoT company that used AI to optimise workplace design and safety.

Except, he could not get penetration in Australia “mainly because businesses didn’t know what I was trying to sell or maybe I didn’t know how to sell the product”, he says.

In response to the gig worker fatalities, the Victorian Government launched a startup challenge offering investment to whomever could deliver a solution to improve the safety of gig workers – an area close to Elengovan’s heart and his desire to help.

Elengovan’s MyGigsters concept was chosen from 68 ideas and received $215,000 to invest in the platform.

South Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science sponsored Elengovan into SA at the end of 2020 on its pilot visa program ‘Supporting Innovation in South Australia’ so he could pursue MyGigsters in Adelaide.

“My learnings with MySafetyBot were to not build the tech first, sell the product first and fall in love with the problem and not with the solution; the more you love the problem, you will find a solution that solves the problem,” Elengovan says.

“MyGigsters started with a Facebook group that grew to a couple of hundred users within a couple of months, then we started a podcast and a community newsletter.

“Using the community as my backup, I asked them what their problems were, validated their needs and then launched a landing page showing them what I planned to build to solve their problems.

“I built the first feature of MyGigsters within four weeks allowing users to track their income and expenditure.”

There are more than 100 gig platforms operating in Australia and Elengovan sees huge potential for MyGigsters to support federal reforms of the gig economy to provide workers with minimum standards such as pay, penalty rates and superannuation.

“Personally, post-COVID and in the current inflation situation, I have seen at least a 45 per cent increase in people working traditional nine-to-five jobs who have started side hustles,” he says.

“And the public perception of gig workers has improved a lot, a lot of young people have decided to work for themselves but we’re also seeing a silver workforce of people who are retired but returning as independent contractors or freelancers.

“There are however a significant portion of gig workers who still have no bargaining power with some platforms and the government is trying to address that.”

He says being located at Lot Fourteen, with other fintech companies has helped to build the company’s story and brand.

“One of my investors used to say that if you want to be lucky you have to increase the surface area so that luck can strike you. One way to increase your surface area is to be part of a bigger surface area,” he says of the decision to move to Lot Fourteen’s Stone and Chalk community.

Elengovan is also founder of a software solutions company Megamind Creations and director of Gufy, which supports early stage-startups – so they too can dream big.


Read more stories like this on Issue_03 of Lot Fourteen’s Boundless Magazine

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