As a student of the #GigEconomy, I seek out #CoolGigCompanies to understand the new models and ideas that are being brought to the market by entrepreneurs around the world. Here is another in my series of developments to watch in the new world of work.
In 2012, Vera Gavizon and Linda Singer were two working moms in Montreal. Vera was a former McKinsey consultant and Linda a marketing manager, and the two found that the corporate world, was just not ideal to work/life balance Seeking more flexibility, they began freelancing, but realized that getting the right, good, local gig was not so easy. So, they decided to build their own platform for freelancers to find local gigs and Workhoppers was born.
From the beginning they envisioned a platform similar to a dating site where companies would get matched easily with the right professional to get the job done. No barriers. No middleman. In order to quickly identify the best candidates for the job, they worked closely with data scientists at McGill University in Montreal to define a multi-step process to rank candidates. This semantic algorithm deploys machine learning considering various attributes of the freelancer and the project.
Workhoppers also has a unique pricing system. Rather than taking a percentage of the project revenues, a formula typically used by such platforms at UpWork or Fiverr, Workhoppers is a subscription service; companies pay a fixed fee per month which entitles them to post jobs and proactively search through the database of professionals to connect directly for immediate hire. Businesses can handle their needs in a self-service mode or they can opt for a full service model, where Workhoppers will receive, review, interview, verify references and present the perfect candidate for the project.
More importantly though, in the Workhopper model, once the talent is identified, the transaction becomes a personal one; the worker and the client negotiate the terms of the engagement, eliminating the middle man. As such, it is a platform that provides qualified independent workers with highly qualified leads. Every company is carefully vetted.
This no middleman model enabling people to negotiate directly is a core value of the company. Its four operating pillars are that the business should be direct, local, flexible and simple. The founders believe that there are many advantages in working with local professionals ‘More often than not, according to Singer, freelancers are spending at least some time at client sites. Indeed, they recommend clients have at least one face to face meeting before embarking on a project. . The flexibility is what they offer the independent workers who operate on the platform, which according to virtually every study done on the cohort, is a key motivation of the freelance workforce. The simplicity comes from their algorithm and what they feel is a very easy to use platform.
Projects tend to be administrative, creative or in the web development domain. They also include internship options, something few gig platforms consider, even though they tend to be finite projects. Another interesting differentiation is that the firm also posts volunteer opportunities as a way to help the not for profit world secure some needed expertise.
This operating philosophy has yielded strong growth since they started. They now operate in many markets, although stay true to their local sourcing of candidates for gigs. Success for the firm is continued growth in geographies, number of clients and number of WorkHoppers. Along the way, another key initiative is the constant improvement of the algorithms used to match projects. The more projects are done, the more machine learning occurs, so constant vigilance is important to assure that the results are the best they can be.
The biggest issue for them is getting the word out, to both the freelance community and the business community. Like many in the space, they have a challenge of getting companies to realize that the freelance talent pool has far more than writers and creative professionals, but includes consultants, experienced marketers, HR professionals and financial experts, to name a few. To address that misconception and increase their visibility, they have started investing in marketing campaigns to augment their already solid organic growth.
And of course, they have managed their own growth by turning to a cadre of Workhoppers’ professionals to help them out. They have engaged graphic designers, financial staff, writers and other project resources to manage their growing concern. Not only does Workhoppers allow client companies to be more agile and win the war on talent, they are modeling how it’s done with their own operation.
For more on Marion McGovern, check out her bio.