Social Enterprise Start-up Story: Gugoiza

Many of us have been there -- looking for a project in between gigs, you turn to an online platform, such as UpWork, Freelancer or 99Designs. With excitement, you complete your profile and start looking for projects, only to realize that the average hourly rate for work in your field is incredibly low, and the number of other freelancers bidding on projects you’d want is incredibly high.

Gugoiza is a Toronto-based start-up trying to create a better way to find decent work online. 

While in its infancy, the social enterprise, founded by entrepreneur Idas Levato, has a number of features worth exploring: 

  1. It’s free to post gigs and to bid on projects
  2. It’s possible to add “tags” to jobs -- such as , #lgbt_friendly, #disability_friendly, #senior_friendly -- and directly indicate (as a client) your enthusiasm to work with folks from a particular group
  3. It’s possible to geo-locate jobs, and as such, find freelancers (and gigs) within your local neighbourhood -- a great feature for tasks such as babysitting, home maintenance, personal care and more

Lessons from Gugoiza

  1. Find analogous inspiration: Folks in Toronto will likely know Bunz Trading Zone, the online ‘marketplace’ that allows neighbours to trade with neighbours, using non-monetary currency. (On Bunz, neighbours will trade blenders for TTC tokens, sneakers for a bottle of wine, or a basketball for chocolate). Inspired by this idea, of neighbours swapping with neighbours, Levato reached out to the Bunz founders to explore whether they’d be interested in creating a Bunz ‘Zone’ for employment. The Bunz founders weren’t interested in expanding into this territory, and thus, Gugoiza was born.
  2. Create positive ‘social pressure’: Gugoiza tries to support local clients to connect with local gigs, based on a hunch that clients are more likely to pay a fair wage to folks within their community whom they’ll see on a regular basis -- unlike online, where clients often appeal to the lowest bidder. Similarly, by adding community tags, such as “disability friendly" or "LGBT friendly”, the social enterprise is betting on the idea that clients are more likely to pay a decent rate to folks from communities with whom they share a common bond.
  3. Find your community: Gugoiza founder, Idas Levato, is the Director of Startup Toronto, a community of Toronto-based entrepreneurs. Levato’s position within this group has not only provided her with daily motivation and inspiration for building her business, but also with access to a community of talented freelancers, and with folks who need project-based support. 

In 2017, Gugoiza is looking to increase the number of gigs on the platform for folks including: gardeners, babysitters, drivers, tutors, homecare workers, copywriters, and web developers. If you have these skills, or need this talent -- check out the platform