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Business Spotlight – Calgary Entrepreneurs Bring The Gig Economy To Alberta

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Gig work has been a popular subject as of late, interesting that younger generations of Albertans are up against a lot, including a historical economic downturn, a major decrease in unionized and salary jobs, competing with experienced furloughed workers and are simply left scratching their head after putting in thousands of hours and dollars to get a formal education. Combine that with an unemployment rate of 15.5% reported as of May 2020, up from 6.7% the same time last year, we are left with a pretty grim outlook for younger generations of Albertans. 

 

What Is Gig Work?

Gig work can be referred to as self employed or simply contract, consulting or freelance work, where you as the service provider offer your skills at a preferred rate. This type of work is not new, but not only does it already consist of thousands of Canadian workers, Statistics Canada’s most recent data reported 1.7 million gig workers in Canada in 2016. Not the security we were taught to seek in our youth, but can offer a new level of freedom for those who wish to choose their work schedule, offer their skillset and grow their own personal brand.

Source: The Accelerator – From Left: CEO, Karshil Desai, CCO, Sara Mir, CSO, Shawn Moghaddami and CMO, Ankit Patel.

Incredible Minds Can Do Incredible Things 

Meet the Skilli team, a group of four like minded entrepreneurs collaborating to bring the gig economy to Alberta. Having worked in Fort McMurray in Alberta, they experienced the extent of what ‘hard work’ means for our citizens while spending time working in the Alberta Oil and Gas industry. Respect to the many hard working individuals who have overcome fires and floods in that area over the last number of years, their community resilience is inspirational. CEO Karshil Desai speaks about witnessing an opportunity while living there that would prove to be the foundation for Skilli:

“…working in software and automation in the oil and gas sector in Fort MacMurray, I was around a lot of people who made good money offering their unique skills and services…due to the economic downturn, it was unfortunate to see so many people getting laid off, but still needed to pay their bills…I noticed a huge gap in how skilled services were offered and how they were hired by the consumer..”

 

Skilli is a mobile platform that provides freelancers, contractors and service providers a place to market themselves as their own brand. There can be many challenges with traditional methods of gig work, such as finding who can provide the service you need, getting their contact details, scheduling the service, quality control of the work and invoicing for payment after the fact. I am sure there has been millions of dollars spent from word of mouth referrals for what was actually a poor quality deliverable on too many occasions. Validation is a crucial part of the Skilli process for those offering their service, as part of that process, they put the service provider first, thus providing the highest level of customer satisfaction to the end user. CSO for Skilli, Shawn Moghaddami mentions:

“…we see the value of the gig economy in Alberta, with such a large talented workforce here…for us, it is ultimately about putting the service provider first so the customer is the one that benefits…we provide the tools they need, they have the platform behind them and the support to build their own brand.” 

 

The Skilli App You Need To Watch Out For

Combining passion to help a wider community, their experience around contract work and their education on the gig economy, the team have developed their app where the platform can be utilized from anywhere. As mentioned, this type of self employment can offer a higher level of freedom than the traditional 40 hour nine-to-five. Work for yourself and lean on their knowledge base for resources on how to establish your profile, process payments, professional validation and build your confidence as a freelancer or contractor. Unfortunately the app is not available yet in Alberta, however they are proactively validating service providers for the launch of their newest version in early July. There is hope for those who can offer services and are having difficulty finding employment. Something we can all look forward to in these trying times.

 

 

Invest In Yourself

Want to be a part of what will be established as the ‘new economy’? Now is the time to re-evaluate the value you possess. Take a course, improve your skills, invest in supplies you need to offer a service as an individual or begin to construct a portfolio of previous work. Contract work has been around for a very long time, the stigma of it not being a successful career choice for your whole life is dying. Take control of your future by working for yourself. The gig economy is here and will continue to become a major part of what we call the ‘new normal’, to that point everyone here at Todayville wishes the Skilli team the best of success with the launch of their new app and look forward to their launch in early July. 

Considering becoming a service provider or seeking information? 

If you would like to learn more about Skilli or their new app. Visit their website here or social media links below.

 

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Alberta

“…(Alberta’s) been booming so long that people think it’s our time to suffer…”

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Producer Notes:

What an emotional piece of video here shared by Heidi, and the links between layoffs and suicide in Alberta. The data is very clear that there’s a direct correlation and an increase in suicide rates and what’s going on in our world gasps History and dad’s especially fathers can be under tremendous pressure if they’re the solo income earner for their family. Not only are you at high risk of financial collapse if you lose your job, but the emotional toll that that can take and the impact on your mental health, confidence.  My heart goes out to families that are suffering…”

 

The following is a transcript of the above video interview with Heidi McKillop, Director, Producer “A Stranded Nation”.

“…  The interesting thing about when you see this issue in the news about oil and gas and that we don’t need it, for instance, or that it’s dirty oil and then it’s getting displaced to another jurisdiction around the world is quite literally the impact it has had directly in this province.  

I mean, you can see in downtown Calgary especially, but definitely in the rural communities as well, like Grande Prairie, you name it.  There has been an unbelievable shift in terms of what communities are up against with layoffs, and there’s a part of a documentary — I don’t know if you know this, but there was an article, and it was the suicide rates going up 30 percent in Alberta that year.  

I mean, it’s a debate of if that was directly related related to the recession or not, that was part of it.  But there was certainly a connection between economic downturn and mental health issues on the rise.  

And that article was actually about a little girl that had killed herself because her dad had lost his job.  And it was a really, really sad article, and I just said to myself, I was like, if people can’t have compassion about the fact that people are drastically getting affected in their family lives, then that’s probably not the messaging that we’re trying to reach to those people, because they are obviously showing a lack of compassion in that area.  And that, to me, is very sad to see because it happens quite often.  

Especially when I go home, you know, Alberta’s been booming for so many years and so many decades, people just think we’ve been booming for so long and long enough that it’s our time to suffer.  But that’s just not the way that we should start thinking.  It’s very dangerous.  Yeah, it makes me so angry actually.  Yeah, it’s pretty rough.  

Heidi McKillop, Director, Producer “A Stranded Nation”

https://twitter.com/heidimckillop?lang=en

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Alberta

What’s on Tap? – Rediscover Moonshine with Skunkworks Distillery

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An exciting new addition to the Calgary Barley Belt might look a little bit different than what regular patrons are used to seeing, or drinking. Skunkworks Distillery, a locally owned and operated micro-distillery, is bringing premium engineered moonshine to the craft beer party!  

Originating in 2015 as an after-work-over-drinks project idea, the concept of Skunkworks Distillery was in the works for a few years before it began to take shape with Faye Warrington and Marty Lastiwka at the helm. Skunk Works is an engineering term coined at Lockheed Martin, referring to the Advanced Development Department, which focuses on innovative and unconventional approaches to new science and technology. “Skunk Works is a department that operates outside the mainstream of their company working on weird little side science projects or on new tech stuff,” says Faye, “for Marty and I, this is our Skunk Works. This is our science project.” 

Located on the Barley Belt, southeast Calgary’s signature walking distance collection of craft breweries, Skunkworks distills smooth, small batch premium engineered moonshine that is as good over ice as it is in one of their many cocktails. Made from sugar beets refined in Taber, Alberta, Skunkworks offers three unique products: the original Skunkworks Moonshine, Hypersonic and Moonwater. With Skunkworks, Faye and Marty are committed to challenging the mason jar mentality that associates moonshine with a bootleg burn. 

“Moonshine is a good way to bring people together. We all have a moonshine story,” Marty laughs, “It’s something people can always talk about, for better or for worse.” 

The tasting room, much of which Faye and Marty built themselves, combines industrial space race vibes with a Mad Max steampunk flare that can’t be found anywhere else. Sip your Skunktail (Skunkworks cocktail) from a science lab beaker and enjoy some light snacks on a replica plane wing turned coffee table, while listening to live music from the in-house studio. 

After countless hours of planning, searching and building, the taproom officially opened in November of 2019. Launching amidst the upheaval of a global pandemic and ensuing economic crash has made Skunkworks an operation well versed in thinking on their feet. “None of the normal rules for growing a business apply right now,” says Marty, “So we’re just adapting, we’re pivoting every day.” 

Like a number of other breweries and distilleries around the city, Skunkworks transitioned to the production of hand sanitizer to help fill the gap during the height of the pandemic. The public response, according to Marty, was far more than they ever could have anticipated. “Everyone was just so desperate for it,” he says, “we were making it just to give away, and suddenly people were lined up around the block for it.” 

While this wasn’t how they exactly envisioned their first few months in operation, it turned out to be a great way for the distillery to begin connecting with the community while helping out people in need. Given the uncertain circumstances and difficulties of the last several months, Faye says the support of the community and other local distilleries has been invaluable. 

As things settle down, Faye and Marty are looking forward to being able to host live music again and are even exploring the idea of an outdoor concert on their (dog-friendly!) patio. Above all, the two are excited for the upcoming release of their latest product, a seasonal feature that is like “nothing you’ve ever tasted!” coming very soon. 

To learn more about Skunkworks Distillery and what the Calgary Barley Belt has to offer, visit https://www.skunkworksdistillery.com

 

Follow Todayville Calgary to learn more about Calgary’s unique breweries and distilleries, now featuring exclusive weekly updates from Whats on Tap? 

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