While many startup watchers may assume that the online freelancing platform market has been all sewn up by the likes of Elance oDesk and Freelancer, that hasn’t stopped the launch of a range of new offerings, all promising something different. Speedlancer works on a four hour turnaround, while new venture GetSerio is looking to shake up the market by, well, asking users to get serious about their work.
Daniel Green, founder of GetSerio and managing director of retail equipment manufacturing and distribution companies Mills Display & Mills Shopfitting, said that while he always loved the idea of hiring freelancers online, his experiences on the established platforms left him underwhelmed.
“It was hard to communicate based on lack of skill, time zone differences, language issues, and so forth, yet I knew that there were freelancers out on the web that I’d want to work with. After a lot of research, and no solution in sight, I created GetSerio.com for serious companies who are as serious as me about hiring freelancers to shift some of their operations to reliable, quality freelancers,” Green said.
This idea of reserving GetSerio for ‘serious’ companies is one of the main aspects differentiating it from the other platforms; the ability to sign up as a hirer has mostly been limited to members of the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation, while others have been vetted.
“I am a proud member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization and I knew the base, I knew that they owned businesses not unlike my own and, therefore, may have experienced the same pain that I did trying to use online freelancing sites,” Green said.
“We believe vetting hirers is important and since EO’s 11,000+ membership base goes through very strict joining criteria and the companies are high calibre, I believe they were a great place for us to start. As we’ve developed our own vetting criteria, we have been able to relax this restriction, but we will always do our best to reserve GetSerio.com for established, incorporated hiring companies.”
GetSerio doesn’t charge commissions or fees based on jobs posted or completed, but rather charges hirers – excluding members of the EO and those invited to the platform – a subscription fee. Freelancers can sign up for free using their LinkedIn profiles, integrating all their existing work experience and recommendations.
“We’ve invested in the hirer’s experience and I think they’re willing to pay a reasonable fee for it. I knew the kind of hirers we’d want to attract were already paying to use tools like BaseCamp, so we put a lot of money into building an end to end cloud-based project management solution specifically geared for online collaboration between freelancers and hiring companies. That means hirers pay us about $80 a month for the software as well as the talent pool we continue to attract and the payment system,” Green said.
Green isn’t daunted by the challenge that platforms like Freelancer and Elance-oDesk present. He believes that, unlike the big names, GetSerio focuses on quality over quantity by curating both sides of its marketplace.
“The opportunity is huge, online freelancing is multi-billion dollar industry according to all the published research, so there’s room to differentiate and still make a healthy profit, maybe even contribute to the overall shift in how people work today,” he said.
“However if you’re focused on quantity like those sites are, you’re married to a model of taking fees from the workforce that makes the least and don’t provide the tools to effectively get the job done, which I believe is challenging and needs to be taken seriously. At the end of the day, it’s not just quality, but it is reliability delivered that is essential.”
At first glance, the launch of a new freelancing platform – and vetting membership – seems confusing, given the popularity of the other names in the market. However, Green may just be onto something. Freelancers can use the platform knowing that they are working with bigger, established companies, while the companies themselves can easily check a freelancer’s previous work experience and references through the LinkedIn integration. The subscription fee could also be a step in the right direction, with a quick Google search showing more than a few users have been put off other platforms due to constant prompts for payment for various quirks and features.
The launch of the platform has been privately funded, with Green and his existing business partners investing in its development over the last four years.
“We have been in a kind of stealth mode for a while as we refined our product and we now feel it’s ready for the wider market. The objective is to grow, learn/adapt and refine. Then repeat over and over.”