By 2020, an estimated 40 percent of the American workforce will be independent workers, whether freelancers, contractors, or temporary employees. And it's not like they're doing so poorly in 2016: They'll earn a stunning one trillion dollars this year.
So why don't they have a strong financial future? If they want to set up a retirement fund, they have to do it the same way they work: independently. Gigster, a platform that connects companies with top software developers, thinks they have the solution.
Their new announcement, the Gigster Fund, provides freelancers with equity in Gigster itself and in the companies they consult on. When a liquidity event like an IPO or an acquisition happens, the Gigster freelancers will get paid. Can it offer any freelancers the same financial peace of mind any normal employee enjoys? I had a chat with Gigster's co-founder and CEO, Roger Dickey, to find out.
Why Should Those Hoping to Hire Freelancers Turn to Gigster?
“Our main incentives are quality, customer service, and cost savings. Gigster is a smart software development service that builds better custom software for our clients. What makes us different is our access to some of the most in demand and talented developers, designers and engineers from universities like Stanford and MIT, and from companies like Google and Facebook.
Customer service is a differentiator for us. You can have the best talent in the world, but if your customers don’t have a positive experience there’s no incentive to reuse a service. We pair each customer with a product manager, who is the intermediary between our team of freelance developers and the client. They ensure project deadlines are met, revisions are communicated properly, and that the customer is happy.
Lastly, you receive an exceptional product for about 50 percent less than what similar competitors can offer. We save money by using freelancers, which slashes many overhead costs. We also complete projects on aggressive deadlines. Depending on complexity, apps take about four months, websites three months, and site redesigns one to two months.”
Tell Me More About the Gigster Fund
“This is a new program we’ve launched, with the backing of Bloomberg Beta, Felicis Ventures, and CSC Upshot, as well as select portfolio companies, such as AdHawk. Essentially companies pay for our service with company equity or cash. Paying with equity saves them upfront development costs, and companies that invest in the fund receive VIP treatment, such as fundraising assistance, an expedited build process, and direct access to myself, my co-founder, Debo Olaosebikan, and the wider network for advice and feedback.”
What Are Your Plans to Grow Your Customer Base?
“First, show enterprise tech companies that there’s an alternative to hiring an entire department of full-time employees. The enterprise tech market is giant in comparison to the startup market, but this is an advantage for us. Large enterprise companies have tech needs just like any company, but without the brand name of Google or Facebook to attract top tier talent, they’re having to hire 10-20 full time employees to do the job of one qualified developer. We are the workaround for this. Why hire 10 mediocre engineers, when you can hire a small team of Gigsters for a few months to complete a job
Currently our client base consists mostly of the technology companies I just described, but we have seen increasing demand from traditional enterprise companies as well. Former clients including Airbus and World Bank come to us because they realized they can outsource a project to Gigster without hiring an entire internal team, and that we’re faster, cheaper and more efficient than competitors. We expect these early enterprise customers to convince other similar companies to use freelance labor as they become more technology-driven.”
What's the Biggest Change or Pivot You Made Developing Gigster?
“We eliminated the marketing department earlier this year, and instead depend on word of mouth and let the quality of or work speak for itself. Before we started Gigster though, we tried over 20 startup ideas.”
The freelance and job search business is booming, and plenty of people are looking to disrupt the system. The Gigster Fund is intriguing, and their focus on custom software gigs is a good fit for the startup-like equity system they're setting up. I'll be keeping an eye on this experiment as it keep developing.