Podcast: TaskHuman and the Joys of Coaching Through Video

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Transcript

Mark:

Welcome to PeopleTech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. I’m Mark Feffer. My guest today is Ravi Swaminathan, the founder and CEO of TaskHuman. Their platform connects users with coaches live and on video so they can get help in areas like business coaching, work-life balance, travel planning, and meditation. We’re going to talk about the past and future of this kind of platform as well as what it’s doing now on this edition of PeopleTech.

Mark:

Hi, Ravi, welcome. To start, can you tell me about TaskHuman? I mean, what do you do that’s different?

Ravi:

Yeah. So with TaskHuman our goal is really to put thousands of coaches in your pocket for whatever you need when you need, if you want to talk to a live person. If you look at what’s going on in the internet today, you have an awesome company called Google where you can just go in and you can type whatever’s on your mind. You can say things like, “I want to learn yoga,” or “I’m really stressed out, what do I do?” Or, “Hey, my pet is driving me nuts,” and you get articles and videos, right? That’s essentially what Google has brought and people love it and everybody uses it, it’s great. But there are moments in your life where you feel like that’s not good enough. I actually want to talk to a real live human being because the questions I have are more complex or I just want to be more interactive with a real life human being.

Ravi:

And for those moments, that’s really what we built TaskHuman for. So it’s an app you can download on your phone or tablet, you go in and use it kind of like you use Google. You can just say things like, “I want to learn yoga.” And instead of giving you articles and videos, we’re actually going to show you live providers from all around the world who are available for you to instantly video call right that instant. So it’s really pretty awesome to feel like, oh my God, I just literally thought I wanted to do yoga. I have 20 minutes before my next meeting. I want to quickly get a session in. You just dial a person, they appear over video calls, kind of like FaceTime and you can actually do a yoga session over a video call and thousands of other things that you can get live human help on, so that’s what TaskHuman is.

Ravi:

It’s sort of a network of people that are available to help you in literally a thousand areas of your work and personal life that covers physical fitness, mental wellbeing, spiritual help. You actually have pastors, ministers, chaplains on the platform to leadership coaches, to financial wellbeing coaches, to sales coaches, to even pet coaches. So if your pet is running around driving you nuts, we’ve got a bunch of awesome curated pet coaches for you to talk to live.

Mark:

If you hear a schnauzer start barking in the background, I might take you up on that.

Ravi:

Exactly.

Mark:

So how do you scale this though? I mean, if you’ve got all these coaches essentially on standby to take a call when someone needs them. I mean, it seems to me that would be a real tough nut to crack.

Ravi:

Tough things are often worth doing so it doesn’t bother us that it’s tough, but it’s a great question. So kind of like Uber. I mean, if you want more passengers and you want to serve more people, you need more drivers. So similarly on TaskHuman we have a model of going out and getting all these different coaches and then we roll it out to company employees one by one. And so if we know we’re going after a thousand in person company. We kind of understand average usages and make sure that we have supply to serve those thousand employees. And if we go after a million employee company we’ll make sure to have the supply for serving that company. So we do maintain quite a bit of excess provider supply to go after and serve more employees and more companies.

Mark:

Now I’d like to shift gears a little bit and talk about employers and employees and how they’re using the app. And first question there is, what’s the attitude of your users right now? The employees in the middle of everything that’s going on with the economy, the great resignation, what impact are you seeing on your usage and the topics they’re looking into?

Ravi:

Yeah, that’s a great question. Because of the comprehensiveness of what we offer we’re not just any one thing, we’re not just a weight loss app. We actually have coaches who can help you with weight loss, but we also have leadership coaches and sales coaches and pet coaches and so on. So because of the comprehensiveness of what we offer, we get a really interesting window into what employees use it for and how they use it globally. So when we serve a company we don’t just serve any one region of employees, we actually serve their entire global population. Whether it’s a company like Green Central, that has almost 8,000 people across the board or Zoom or any of the other companies that we support, we support their employees on a global population of employees. So the insights it’s been fascinating to see what people are using TaskHuman for. Most of the time it tends to be focused on things like physical fitness, it’s always popular.

Ravi:

And you can imagine people want to work out on a regular basis whether it’s yoga or Pilates or kickboxing, or depending on the topic, it tends to be daily use or weekly use. There might be other topics that you reach out to on an as needed basis. For instance, prep coaching might be three, four sessions with a pet coach. You understand how to train your dog and maybe do some leash training with that. So it really depends on what the individual user or that employee wants to use. Some people might just be focused on, hey, I want to stretch a little bit it and just do that. Some people might do 10 topics of interest to them, including by the way, we have tarot card reading on the platform.

Ravi:

So it’s going to be whatever you need on an as needed basis. But when you step back and take a look at, oh what are global populations doing? And what did they do during last year, which is a pandemic year, it turned out it was a lot of focus on physical activities. So dialing up a coach and doing a yoga session or dialing up a coach and doing a kickboxing or a Pilates session or a home based workout. And mental wellbeing was really popular too. I’m really stressed out or I’m trying to change really relationships. I have a hard time, I need some help parenting my kids while they’re watching too much iPad at home. So physical fitness and mental wellbeing were sort of the top big categories that people were reaching out to during the pandemic.

Mark:

Now what about employers? What have you been hearing from them?

Ravi:

Yeah. I mean, employers when we reach out to people and we talk about our product and what we can do we really try to bring, and the platform brings one on one human connection in what is increasingly a digital world. So even in the pandemic, when people weren’t seeing each other physically you could video call a coach on TaskHuman and have that semblance of talking to a real live human being. And so for employers what was important was simply engagement. Hey, we launched this tool, our people from all around the world using it to benefit themselves and focus on both their work and personal life using coaching on the platform.

Ravi:

And the good news there is pretty much at every company, we are the highest engagement platform of anything they’ve launched compared to other tools and that’s not a hyperbolic statement, it’s actually true. And so from an employer perspective, I mean, they’re pretty happy that they are able to support their employees in both their work and personal life through tasking and it’s a partnership we’re really proud of.

Mark:

Okay. Now it seems like there’s more and more companies crowding into the online learning space. What’s the competition been like for you in the last year or two, and where do you think it’s going?

Ravi:

Yeah. There are a few things that we do that are dramatically different, we haven’t seen other people do it. And so when you think of competition for TaskHuman and it could be an old approach, a lot of companies have EAP and a 1-800 number you can call, that’s not quite the same as what we have, but it’s never the less something that people have. And so in the lens of what are people used to and how is TaskHuman different from them? What we’ve seen is the live, the instant one on one access to coaching is kind of unparalleled. It doesn’t really exist anywhere outside of TaskHuman, the comprehensiveness of the platform having a thousand different areas of coaching that are instantly available to you, that’s also kind of still unheard of outside of TaskHuman.

Ravi:

You often have point solutions, like okay, there is a weight loss app, and you might get a coach as part of that. Or you might have leadership coaching in one place in one app, but you’re not getting the comprehensive offering that TaskHuman offers. And then the way we roll out our platform is actually unlimited coaching use for employees of companies. And that’s still somewhat unheard of outside of TaskHuman. And so when you put these things together, there is no platform like TaskHuman, but there’s always limited budgets. There’s always alternative approaches that people just don’t see a problem with and so on. And so we tend to fight complacency and existing approaches more than a platform that looks similar to TaskHuman.

Mark:

And my last question is with all that said, and everything we’ve been talking about as background, how do you see yourself growing or evolving, however you want to call it? How do you see yourself growing over the next few years?

Ravi:

Yeah, for us we have a simple aspiration. Our goal is to serve 3 billion users. We happen to think that TaskHuman and this type of coaching network is a fundamental human right. To clarify Steve Jobs would say, “We’re putting a thousand songs in your pocket with the iPod,” when it first came out. And it was amazing to have that digital collection with you just in your pocket. We’re actually putting thousands of coaches in your pocket. We’re helping you feel like you’re not alone anymore. Anything you want, there’s somebody out there with the knowledge and the experience to help you. And they’re just a couple of taps away. You just pull out your phone and tap away and you’re going to have the world of people’s knowledge and experience at your fingertips.

Ravi:

So with that our goal is to build a kind of company that’s able to serve 3 billion users. Why 3 billion? Because that many people have a smartphone that can run an app and it has a camera built in, those are the two things that you need to run TaskHuman. And so that’s our aspirational goal is to serve 3 billion people with all the world’s knowledge and human expertise, if you will. Kind of like Google did for articles and videos. Google is not bringing live people to you, at least not yet but TaskHuman is.

Ravi:

And so we want to bring one day if you fast forward 10 years from now when you want a physical fitness coach, you got it. You want to talk about mental health, you got it. You want to talk about emotional spirituality, anything in your life where you feel like I’m tired of reading articles and videos, I just want to talk to somebody. Maybe you want to do origami and you want to talk to other people who have done that, or are experts of teaching you that, and we’re going to help you find those people on TaskHuman. So the evolution of TaskHuman is kind of simple to explain. It’s more topics of coaching and it’s bigger reach on and reaching more and more people.

Mark:

Ravi. Thanks very much for being here today. I appreciate it. And it was great talking to you.

Ravi:

Thank you so much for having me Mark. Really appreciated the opportunity.

Mark:

My guest today has been TaskHuman CEO, Ravi Swaminathan. And this has been PeopleTech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. We’re a publication of RecruitingDaily. We’re also a part of Evergreen Podcasts. To see all of their programs visit www.evergreenpodcasts.com. And to keep up with HR Technology, visit the HCM Technology Report every day. We’re the most trusted source of news in the HR tech industry. Find us at www.hcmtechnologyreport.com. I’m Mark Feffer.

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