[Startup Interview] Manoj Ranaweera, CEO, SkilledUp Life, UK
SkilledUp Life is a UK-based two-sided marketplace for anyone, volunteers, to gain new experiences and build skills free of charge, and for bootstrapped tech startups, companies, to fill skills gaps in their teams with free talent.
It has a special focus on aspiring data scientists and aspiring growth hackers. The CEO Manoj Ranaweera elaborates.
Tell us about your company?
SkilledUp Life provides an opportunity for anyone over 18 years to gain Experience and Skills by helping a tech startup. Once subscribed, tech companies can tap into our volunteer talent pool to grow their companies, by mixing paid talent with volunteer talent.
Volunteers cannot earn through us or get any taxable benefit in kind. We provide pure and real Experience and nothing else, which Volunteers can use to land their dream job including changing their career.
Who founded SkilledUp Life and what are their professional backgrounds?
The company was started by Manoj Ranaweera.
How is SkilledUp Life financed?
SkilledUp Life is 100% financed by the founder.
What industry does SkilledUp Life operate in?
Two sectors: Talent development and Building tech companies
What would you say are the dynamics that shape the industry you work in?
There isn't a place anyone can go to gain pure and real Experience. We are building that place. On the other end, there are many types of organisations that help tech startups grow. They all cost either equity or significant fees. We are trying to do this with minimum cost.
Why did you start SkilledUp Life? What opportunities did you see?
I have built tech companies since 2004. One of the problems I always had was not having enough talent to execute my vision. SkilledUp Life solves this problem once and for all.
What problems does SkilledUp Life solve?
Problem 1: How do you land your dream job if you do not have relevant Experience and Skills?
Problem 2: How do you build and grow a tech company if you do not have sufficient capital to hire all the talent you need?
What can SkilledUp Life do that no other company can?
There isn't a destination where someone could sign up and gain Experience free of charge. Secondly, there isn't a place where a tech startup finds all the talent they need without paying for that talent.
We bring these two communities together and develop talent and build tech companies, worldwide.
Who are your customers?
Volunteers do not pay anything to use our service. We charge a small monthly or annual subscription from tech startups to operate our service.
What does SkilledUp Life need in order to grow?
Nothing. Just hard work. We have targets set out for the year. The company is more or less is operated by about 20 Volunteers. We are proving that tech companies can be built with volunteers.
What is your growth strategy?
We have publicly declared our targets for 2022. https://skilledup.life/metrics shows our current results. Our growth strategy relies on our ability to convince tech companies to join us. We are also teaming up with education providers such as Utiva from Nigeria.
In which markets are you looking to establish your presence?
Nigeria has emerged as our largest market over the last 3 months. We are going deep into Africa. We believe Africa is right for our service.
What are your plans for the coming 12 months?
We have two immediate targets to hit. Reach 11,000 volunteers by end of July 2022. Secondly, to grow revenues to £10,000 Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) by end of Oct 2022.
We want to demonstrate that tech companies can grow from £0 to £10,000 MRR by using our Volunteers. We want to be our own best and most demanding customer.
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