Voices

BBVA Compass, Skratch Collab to Welcome Gen Z to Gig Economy

Teenagers around Texas are making money thanks to an app that pairs them with paying gigs like scooping ice cream at school fairs, teaching kids how to mix music like DJs, and more.

Skratch is an enterprising teenager’s dream. The app offers gigs based on individual interests in their own communities. A sort of Uber that connects young people aged 14-19—but, with jobs.

BBVA Compass is an international banking concern intent on connecting with more customers; it’s also looking into working with entrepreneurs who are attempting to effect social change (or, social entrepreneurs).

This is the story of how the two converged to expand both their reaches.

Skratch co-founder and CEO Scott Bennett and BBVA became acquainted at BBVA’s first U.S. Momentum event, which BBVA organizes to identify social entrepreneurs for collaborative ventures.

“I was invited to see the winner the first year,” said Bennett, referring to the first U.S. Momentum program in 2017. “As an entrepreneur, there’s lots of different programs, accelerators, incubators, and mentor organizations.

“This particular program was intriguing to me, because we see a broader opportunity as it relates to how we are helping young people. The [Skratch] platform is all about creating opportunities for teenagers to work, and essentially, to earn money. At the core, it’s not much more complicated than that. But what happens when they earn money?”

Skratchers have found themselves doing a host of diverse tasks—from scooping ice cream at school fairs to teaching kids how to mix music like DJs. The gigs pay roughly $10 to $12 per hour and last a few hours. So far, the app has been downloaded 15,000 times, and is available in the Waco area, and in the Dallas, Houston/The Woodlands, and San Antonio regions, among other areas in Texas.

Partnering with a bank always made sense to Bennett; when he saw BBVA’s work with mission-driven entrepreneurs, a collaboration made even more sense.

So, the following year, Bennett pitched Skratch to BBVA’s Momentum program, and was selected. Not long after, a team of BBVA developers and user experience experts went to work with Bennett and others at Skratch. And Bennett enrolled in Momentum workshops that address the questions and challenges facing start-ups. Skratch finished second out of 16 competitors, and received a $35,000 award from BBVA.

“We’ve been operational in some form since 2016, albeit very small,” he said. “We were only on iOS, and we were only in a few zip codes; 50 percent of the market is carrying an Android device.”

Key in mentoring Bennett/Skratch was former BBVA corporate strategist and customer experience authority Lohit Kalburgi, who, at the time, lived in Dallas while he oversaw global customer experience work for BBVA. (Since then, Kalburgi has moved on to serve as general manager of corporate strategy and customer experience at ASB Bank, which is based in New Zealand.)

“I partnered with Lohit to mentor Skratch from the user experience side,” said Erika Roman, Global Customer Experience Manager at BBVA. “We went out to Skratch and brought the design team. Lohit and I represented the product management side, and were able to sit with Skratch, and dug deep, not only on the business model, but also to get under the hood into design development. And to give advice on processes.”

BBVA User experience designers Gemma Enriquez and Monica Fernandez Valadez also worked with Skratch, helping it to develop an Android version, effectively doubling the app’s reach (more than half of all U.S. smartphone users carry Android devices).

The experience of working with the Momentum team was more valuable than the $35,000 cash, Bennett said.

“The money and those things are great, but getting to know Lohit, Erika and the team has been the best part of the program,” Bennett said.

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Dave Moore has 27 years’ experience in writing, editing, reporting, and analysis. He’s traveled to Bosnia to observe efforts to boost the country’s post-Soviet economy, explored the causes of h(...)

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