Q&A with Saman Rahmanian, CEO and Founder, Tischen
Tischen is a startup that is creating a freelance jobs community by offering those looking for work a customizable web presence to showcase capabilities, experience, and connect with potential customers. The company was founded in 2010 and is based in New York City.
SUB: How does Tischen work? What is the basic user experience?
Rahmanian: Tischen makes it easy for individuals who are looking for work to promote their services/skills/availability to anyone who may need their services. Tischen gives job seekers a free, customizable web page where they can showcase their skills, upload work samples, post their availability for work and promote themselves to potential employers—both companies and individuals. Each Tischen job seeker is listed in the searchable directory, making it easy for those looking for help to find the right person for the job in the geographic area they specify. Job seekers can even connect their Tischen page to their Facebook page to leverage the cross-platform promotion.
When an employer locates a potential employee, they can use the Tischen page to contact the job seeker directly by email or text alert, based on the job seeker’s preferences.
SUB: Are you primarily targeting unemployed people/those looking for work, or professional freelancers?
Rahmanian: Both. The beauty of Tischen is that it’s an open forum, where job seekers of all types are welcome—full-time and part-time job seekers, contractors, consultants, etc. It’s up to the employer and potential employee to work out the terms of their specific arrangement. Tischen helps to facilitate the search process and make the connection.
SUB: Roughly how many people currently use the site?
Rahmanian: There are currently tens of thousands of job seekers listed on Tischen, with skills ranging from babysitters and dog walkers to artists, party planners, attorneys and marketing experts. Each day, our directory is searched by thousands of people looking for help and specific services, a testament to the fact that despite a tough employment market, people still need to get things done—and they are hiring, just not as much by traditional means.
SUB: What is your business model? How do you make money?
Rahmanian: Tischen operates on the “freemium” model. A basic page is free, with options to upgrade for a small monthly fee. The Tischen Plus program offers members their own domain name to link directly to their Tischen page, the ability to receive job requests by text message, priority placement in Tischen directory search results and a fully branded page without the Tischen search bar.
SUB: Who do you see as your primary competition?
Rahmanian: Actually, we don’t see what we do as a competition. Our mission is to rid the world of unemployment, and right now, unfortunately, there’s plenty of room for multiple platforms to work together in this mission. In fact, we partner with several organizations, like ParentJobNet.org and WorkForce1 in New York City, to make our vision a reality.
SUB: How has the site been funded to this point? Have you raised outside funding? Do you plan to do so in the near future?
Rahmanian: Tischen remains self-funded and, at this time, we are not actively seeking outside funding. However, we’re not averse to the idea, and would welcome an opportunity to talk with anyone who shares our mission and values.
SUB: What differentiates Tischen from the competition?
Rahmanian: First, it’s free. Second, besides just providing a place to post your resume and contact information, Tischen allows job seekers to design a fully customized web page that reflects their talents and personality and showcases their skills in the best light possible. Finally, Tischen actually facilitates the hiring process by providing a mechanism for employers to contact job seekers directly.
SUB: What have some of the challenges been to get the site up-and-running?
Rahmanian: Sites like Tischen are most useful to people looking to hire help when a lot of people have signed up to offer their help. Yet, without the promise of being hired from the site, few people might care to sign up in the first place. This is the classic chicken-and-egg problem, which posed a challenged to us at the start. Our solution to the problem has been to give immediate value – a “Tischen page” – to people when they sign up. Each unique Tischen page is nicely designed, can be customized to fit the user’s personality or business, and can be used in a number of ways—none of which require a single other person to be on the site. A Tischen page can be used as one’s homepage, online business card, online CV, online portfolio to showcase their work, or a simple page to share one’s schedule with clients. Job requests are now the icing on the cake.
SUB: Where do you see Tischen in roughly a year from now?
Rahmanian: We see the site continuing to grow and helping people find work and fulfillment, moving us ever closer to our goal of ridding the world of unemployment.
SUB: Finally, a question I always ask: as an entrepreneur who has weathered the down economy, what advice do you have for those just starting out—especially in an economy that remains less than dynamic?
Rahmanian: While it’s true that employment opportunities in the traditional sense are not what they used to be – and may never be again – there is still plenty of opportunity for motivated individuals with exceptional skills to build a sustainable and thriving freelance career. It’s vital to focus on your core strengths—those areas where you truly excel—and not try to be all things to all people. Once you’ve determined your niche, position yourself where you’ll be seen by your potential customers. Go where they go, whether that be online forums, in-person networking events or job search sites like Tischen. By all means, present yourself as a consummate professional in all venues, at all times. In today’s market, count on the fact that potential employers will check out your Facebook or Twitter page, so make sure that what they find there will portray you in a positive light.
Tischen – www.tischen.com