September 26, 2014
As a freelancer, finding new and additional work takes a lot of time and effort. From seeking out new clients through personal leads to utilizing websites like Elance, oftentimes getting hired for a selected project comes down to how much you’re willing to put yourself out there and prove that you have enough talent to carry on with a job successfully. And, I mean, it makes sense: those doing the hiring want to ensure that whomever they’re hiring is actually worth the money and can do the job well. However, when it comes to online platforms like Elance, there are limitations on both the type of work independent workers can find and the quality of talent that companies can find – there’s often a mismatch, with jobs that offer demeaning rates and contract workers that don’t live up to expectations.
LiquidTalent, a New York City-based startup launched last year, hopes to solve the inefficiencies in the freelance economy through its mobile-forward platform that is set to launch soon. Currently operating in beta (with full web and iOS functionality already running), the company is offering a mobile talent marketplace that connects exceptional professionals, seeking freelance and independent contract work, with local businesses. Through a selective vetting process, the company is able to connect hiring companies with freelance professionals on LiquidTalent, as well as secure competitive rates for freelancers on the platform akin to the high quality of their work.
“The interesting thing is how the preference of how people want to work is changing rapidly,” said cofounder and CEO Alex Abelin. “It’s leaving the confines of the 9-to-5; it’s becoming about living an independent lifestyle…about having more control over your time and your work.”
Prior to starting LiquidTalent, Abelin spent seven years working at Google. After leaving the company in April of last year, he wanted to know more about how he could maintain a lifestyle and earn revenue, without having to go through the daily doldrums of the 9-to-5 workday. He quickly discovered that besides starting a consultancy of one’s skills, there really wasn’t a great marketplace or community where white-collar professionals can offer their skills and talents.
“We built LiquidTalent using this premise: that the 9-to-5 model is changing,” said Abelin. “The thesis is that people want to work for themselves and basically live the lifestyle they want without having to give up on their financial goals.”
And, Abelin is right: the number of those entering this freelance economy is growing, and growing rapidly. In a recent survey commissioned by the Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk, there are currently 54 million workers in the United States’s freelance economy – making up a whopping 34 percent of the country’s overall workforce. Additionally, according to WorkMarket cofounder Jeff Wald, the number of freelance workers is actually projected to outpace full-time workers by the year 2020 – somewhat of a surprise for a country whose classical notions of the American Dream don’t necessarily entail the pursuit of independent worker. Yet, despite this rapid increase of professionals removing themselves from traditional work structures and actively pursuing independent contract or freelance work, there persists a lack of digital platforms to accommodate and help coordinate the dealings in the freelance economy. And, especially for smaller companies (like, you know, startups), finding this talent can often serve as an additional drain on their already limited resources.
According to Abelin, “a lot of small companies don’t have all the talent resources to achieve their business objectives, and instead of having to hire a full time employee they can turn to LiquidTalent to find quality support. Hiring someone full-time takes a lot of time and money, and we’re helping companies achieve their business goals through a more efficient and affordable project-based experience.”
Much in the way that Elance operates, LiquidTalent helps coordinate connections between companies looking to hire independent contractors for projects and freelance workers looking for additional work. Through the platform, enterprises and small businesses can create short-term projects and post them to LiquidTalents’s community of talent. They can also browse through available workers based on location, allowing them to hire people who are either in the same city or across the country. Because of the company’s current focus on the technology and creative fields, the platform is currently replete with projects looking for developers or designers. As to why they’re focused on these two industries, Abelin mentioned that both industries: 1) are already accustomed to freelance and contracting work, and 2) will always see a demand or need for their work.
“We’re very much into being a brand that represents a great selection of talented people,” Abelin continued.
What makes LiquidTalent unique, though, is its focus on creating a community of talented workers. The platform focuses specifically on curating a high-quality talent marketplace, vetting each candidate’s qualifications before they can join the LiquidTalent community. Freelance professionals on the platform can then sync their LinkedIn information, include their portfolio of work, and record a 22-second video. When it comes to matching workers to companies, the platform combines technology and its own concierge service to ensure that a person has the right set of skills and qualifications per project.
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