“Planning While Essential Is Just That… Planning To Be Prepared For A Plan B (Even If It Involves Improvisation)” Words of Wisdom with Scott Bennett, CEO of Skratch
“We had a plan to open some additional zip codes giving new users access to Skratch. We discussed all of the steps necessary to roll out into these new areas. Marketing and operational needs were in order. The day came for us to launch the four zip codes and the app was not allowing for smooth registration. Users can’t get fully registered and therefore can’t begin using the platform. We had never had an issue like this to make use consider a plan B might be needed.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Bennett, CEO and co-founder of Skratch. With two teen daughters of his own, Scott was concerned about the possibility that they may never be able to answer the question, “What was your job as a teenager?” He was then driven to make sure his daughters and their peers would have an answer for that question. Teenage participation in the workforce has been declining for 40 years now. It is projected that less than 25% of eligible teens will be working by 2024, which is more than half the number at the beginning of this century. Founded in late 2015, Skratch is a gig-based platform that aims to teach financial literacy to teens by giving them opportunities to earn again. We believe they need the flexibility and convenience of gig-based work as much if not more than adults, so Skratch built a unique and powerful solution for them. Users rave about their experiences and the app has plans for substantial growth over the next 3 years.
Yitzi: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I grew up in Dallas, Texas and my partner Ronen grew up in Israel. Despite having very different childhood experiences, we both saw the value and importance of working when we were teenagers. I started at my grandfather’s handbag factory and later took on retail selling shoes. Ronen worked alongside his father, a shoemaker and then worked as a photographer for special occasions like birthdays and weddings. Now we have our own teens trying to seek work in a dispiriting market, and quickly recognized a massive shift away from the importance and ability for teens to gain valuable work experience.
Skratch was created when Ronen’s son, Liam, shared his own struggles to find work and expressed that traditional part-time employment no longer works for teens today. He realized that so many changing factors has made it almost impossible for teens to find a job. It was his inspiration that motivated Ronen and I to address his need and build this platform. Skratch is the forward-thinking and relevant solution that creates new opportunities for teens like Liam. Our goal is to meet Generation Z where they are today, which is through their mobile devices.
Yitzi: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company
Like most new businesses, I wanted to be there to see the very first transaction. I always appreciate business owners who frame their first dollar. With Skratch, payment happens through the app, so I wanted to take photos in place for the first dollar. I needed to capture the images without disrupting the teen who was giving basketball lessons to two young boys, which meant scaling a fence while snapping photos at the same time. Some of the neighbors ended up seeing me on this fence and thought I was crazy or committing a crime. On top of that, I was crying because I was so proud to see all of our hard work and dreams become a reality, which had to make them think I was even more strange. Yes, I was crying like a child but didn’t care because Skratch came to life.
Yitzi: So how exactly does your company help people?
Skratch is a mobile platform and gig economy marketplace that connects teens with local adult neighbors to accomplish task-based work. The app provides streamlined payment, tracks history and creates a first resume for teen users. Skratch also validates performance through a two-way rating system, and offers the critical safety features to deliver safe transactions between parties. Our mission is to teach financial literacy to tomorrow’s adults by teaching income to today’s teens.
Yitzi: How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
By nature, Skratch makes social impact with every transaction. We are teaching our youngest eligible entrants into the labor force financial literacy, which helps them gain confidence and become empowered. Skratch is also now creating a give-back grant program to celebrate top performers in the app. Winners can use these grants for education or attend personal improvement events. We are also striving to offer opportunities to all ambitious teens including those in a below-median income situation. It is tough for all teens to find viable opportunities but it 4 times worse in lower income neighborhoods. We have launched a pilot program in Boys and Girls Clubs in Collin County to allow teens that have grown up as club members to gain their first experiences to earn at the club. Giving these kids a chance to earn and grow in turn helps the club run more efficiently. We have a few kids that earned over $300 in just a few weeks and you can see that they are motivated from the experience.
Yitzi: What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I launched my Start-Up” and why.
1. Watch out for the rapids!
· Rapid consumer behavior changes
· Rapid emotional swings that sometimes happen daily
· Rapid decision making that is required in certain circumstances
With our business, ongoing development of our application is constant. Nothing is more exciting than days new releases happen so users can experience the upgrades. A few times on our journey, I have had that excitement immediately wiped out as there were flaws or bugs not caught in the process. Having to go from the anticipation into immediate damage control is emotionally exhausting. Your emotions can change in an instant.
2. Expect a new prescription for your personal lenses. You will be looking at things from the business perspective at every turn.
Safety is our top priority. In every transaction on our platform there is a child involved. I already have 2 of my own children but now also have the responsibility to think about thousands of other kids. I can’t assume my barometer for safety works for all users, so it was time to think about things differently.
3.The devil is definitely in the details which matters to users, employees and just about everyone that comes into contact with Skratch. You need to be prepared to be asked questions about the simplest things, so be specific and detailed.
While registering for Skratch we require a parent’s consent for the teen’s participation, which includes giving us their driver’s license. It never occurred to me that people might want to know why we need their driver’s license, so I assumed a blanket explanation would be enough. People are sensitive to privacy and even though this information is for internal purposes only, they still want to know why we need it.
4.Planning while essential is just that… planning to be prepared for a plan B (even if it involves improvisation). Especially, if what you are tackling was critical enough to require a plan in the first place.
We had a plan to open some additional zip codes giving new users access to Skratch. We discussed all of the steps necessary to roll out into these new areas. Marketing and operational needs were in order. The day came for us to launch the four zip codes and the app was not allowing for smooth registration. Users can’t get fully registered and therefore can’t begin using the platform. We had never had an issue like this to make use consider a plan B might be needed.
5. You can’t please everyone, no matter how hard you try.
It was my hope that users in our first market would be forgiving as we worked out the kinks and would simply just appreciate the purpose and value Skratch delivers. In most cases, we have been fortunate to hear about how great the experience has been for all parties. That said, there have been a few occasions when talking directly to users who bring up insignificant details that tainted their experience. For us, the offline transaction is not something we can control so that makes these situations even more challenging. Regardless, we follow the “user first” approach so we smile and do our best to show them that the feedback matters every time.
Yitzi: I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, or I might be able to introduce you.
There are so many, but I have been really impressed by Ashton Kutcher. Beyond his talents as an actor, he has become a savvy investor. He has an incredible pulse on innovation and how progressive businesses are changing our world. Ashton is among the biggest advocates for teens working because it made such a tremendous impact on him as he grew up doing a variety of odd jobs. In almost every interview he shares his strong belief in the importance of teens getting in the workforce and getting those first opportunities.