First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ramzi Jreidini: It’s been quite a strange ride this year, but we’ve gotten used to lockdowns, wearing masks, etc… Spending time at home with the family has been great, though. We’ve been doing a lot of cooking and trying new recipes, and we’ve come up with some of our own little cooking innovations. Maybe we’ll start a YouTube food channel someday.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Handiss.
Ramzi Jreidini: I’m a husband to an amazing woman, an entrepreneur, and an ex-civil engineer. I worked as a civil engineer for 9 years on major infrastructure projects, including airports, subways, and highways. I specialized in road design and coordination work on these projects with several different companies in different countries as I moved around from one project to the next. I specialized further with a Master’s degree in Transportation Engineering at UC Berkeley.
In 2016, I started to get anxious about the thought of being employed for the rest of my career, and I was restless. I wanted to start freelancing as a traffic engineering and road design consultant, so I started looking online for freelance platforms where I could sign up and get work. To my disappointment, I only found platforms that didn’t cater well to the architecture and engineering industry. I actually signed up for one platform but immediately realized that it wasn’t the right fit.
That’s when I realized that I could create a dedicated platform to architecture and engineering, where freelance professionals and entrepreneurs in the industry could find their place and the right opportunities. So I found a great partner who specialized in web development, and we created Handiss.
How does Handiss innovate?
Ramzi Jreidini: Handiss is a platform where architecture and engineering professionals connect for teamwork on project designs and documentation. Professionals and firms in the AE industry can track down others, contact them directly to request quotes, get work done, and safely process payments.
The architecture and engineering space is a proud and complex industry. That’s why other generic freelance platforms have failed to address its complexity and diversity in skills, experiences, disciplines, niches, and regulatory frameworks. We’re making sure that Handiss upholds standards and addresses this industry’s needs so that architects, engineers, technologists, and industry professionals feel that it is the right place for them to work and get work.
How did the coronavirus pandemic affect your business, and how are you coping?
Ramzi Jreidini: The entire building industry took a major blow because of the pandemic, and we were directly impacted because we serve this industry. However, we saw many of our clients use our platform services to build a more flexible and reliable remote team that they could come to when needed. This ability to tap into a network of talent when needed is essential for any company to be resilient in these tough times.
On the operational front, our team has always worked remotely with each other, so there was no change at all when it comes to teamwork.
Did you have to make difficult choices? What are the lessons learned?
Ramzi Jreidini: We did have to slow down our marketing and sales efforts during the March-May peak of the pandemic as companies were scrambling to cope and realign themselves in a remote work setting, and as many were laying off workers. It was a tough time for us all, but I’m glad to see that companies are pushing forward and learning to adapt to new environments and ways.
One of the great lessons we all learned is that remote work works and that we can form new habits and work in new ways that are more comfortable for both employees and companies.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Handiss in the future?
Ramzi Jreidini: My long term vision for Handiss is to become a vertically integrated platform for the AEC industry, where professionals and companies network and hire each other for all kinds of opportunities, whether for short-term freelance work, long-term contracts, or full-time work.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ramzi Jreidini: Our competitors are primarily the large generic freelance platforms out there, like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer. But we differentiate ourselves very clearly by addressing our market in very unique ways in our service offerings and user features. We’re from the industry, and we understand enough about how it works to know what our users really want from Handiss.
Your final thoughts?
Ramzi Jreidini: If you’re reading this and you happen to be an AEC professional, head on to our website and check it out. Reach out to me on LinkedIn if you want!