Last Updated on January 15, 2022 by YGK News Staff
Two Queen’s students and one alumna are teaming up to change the way students work in Kingston.
Founded by Queen’s Commerce alumna Narges Rezae and third-year Commerce students Jake Moodie and Allan Foran, Gigli is a web application that allows community members to post household gigs and students to bid with their hourly rates. The team plans to launch at the end of January 2022.
“Everything is going to be done on the application itself,” CEO Jake Moodie explained. “There’s no need for any phone calls or anything like that. Everything is done online. We’ve worked really hard [over] the past nine months to ensure that we handle all of the background work, all of the heavy lifting and whatnot, so that students and community members can very easily come to an agreement.”
Moodie added that trust and security are fundamental to Gigli.
“When you go to review all of these bids [and] gigs, you’ll see a profile picture, their first name, ratings and reviews [ … ] so people know exactly what they’re getting into,” he said. “All the details are on there, very organized, so it’s going to be an efficient marketplace.”
According to Moodie, the idea behind Gigli was born last spring, when he and COO Allan Foran were “completely bombarded” with requests for moving help.
“We were told by everyone’s parents that they [would] literally pay us anything to compensate for the service,” Moodie said. “First, we kind of laughed it off and decided to focus on exams, but the requests continued to pile on, so we asked ourselves why these families didn’t just hire a moving company.”
Moodie and Foran came away with three important findings. Firstly, the student labour market has lower wage demands than those of professional moving companies; secondly, companies tend to be capacity-constrained in the spring, and thirdly, student labour can match the quality of services provided by professional companies.
Foran noted the tensions between the student and resident communities in Kingston as another motivation driving Gigli.
“We want to benefit the community [and] we want to benefit students,” Foran said. “They have to be talked about in the same sentence because they live together. There’s a huge population of both in a very condensed place, so sometimes it may not be easy [ … ] but at the end of the day, [we] want to help the communities we live in because they’ve given us so much.”
“Nine months in the making”
Foran said Gigli has been in the works for nine months, though it feels much shorter.
“In May, when [we] kicked off [the project], it was just constantly having meetings, reaching out to people, connecting, trying to use our networks,” Foran said. “There’s no real book for any of this, and that’s something I think we realized pretty quickly.”
An important milestone came in August, when CTO Narges Rezae was brought aboard Gigli.
Foran called the team “a match made in heaven,” and Rezae echoed the sentiment.
“We were extremely lucky,” Rezae said. “Our positive synergy from day one made us do more and learn more in every aspect of venture creation. I couldn’t ask for any better team players when it comes to Gigli.”
Since the summer, the team has been developing Gigli’s web application and readying the product for market.
“We tried to stick to agile development,” Rezae said. “We created a highly scalable and extendible platform by using cloud native resources [ … ] We are extremely excited to put this platform in hands of students and community members.”
“The last nine months [have also been about] using every single opportunity that came our way,” Foran added. “Just trying to meet people and continually grow and learn.”
According to Moodie, Gigli has been self-funded thus far.
“However, we do have a lot of support from partnerships,” Moodie said. “There [are] two at Queen’s, actually, Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation and the DDQIC. They provide us with a lot of invaluable resources, such as connecting us with mentors and legal resources that we might need.”
Moodie also cited Launch Lab, a local Kingston incubator, and Innovative Design Co., a pro bono student organization at Wilfrid Laurier University as key partners.
“The past nine months have been a lot of work, but we understand it is nothing compared to what is yet to come,” Moodie said.
“Gigli’s future really depends on what we do today”
According to Foran, Gigli currently has over 140 subscribers anticipating the official launch and over 1,000 interactions on its website.
“Believe it or not, we are going to use [Gigli] ourselves,” Rezae said.
The team’s current priorities are validating proof of concept with Gigli’s initial launch in Kingston and gathering feedback to implement changes, ultimately improving user experience both for students and community members.
Once successful in Kingston, the team plans to scale Gigli across every university town in Ontario, Canada, and the United States.
“We really want to redefine traditional student jobs and provide students across the world with quick income opportunities that work with their busy schedules,” Moodie said.
“We want community members to be able to access the student labour market with ease and no longer have to surrender to expensive professional service fees. We really do see Gigli as the vessel that empowers youth while simultaneously benefiting communities.”
For more information, visit gigli.ca.