There are plenty of platforms that connect business owners with available freelancers, including juggernaut brands like Upwork (formerly Elance-oDesk), Australian public company Freelancer.com and a plethora of smaller players, especially local players that operate within their own countries. All of these companies work off a clip-of-the-ticket business model where the platform takes a portion of the total payment made to the freelancer. The platforms are also fierce about protecting being that ‘connector’ in the equation, meaning that communicating outside the platform with a freelancer is usually a no-go zone.
New Zealand based startup Yudoozy believes that it could be the next iteration of the well established ‘freelancing platform concept’ with its business model that goes against the grain, taking no commissions, not having freelancers bid for jobs and not seeing itself as the middleman platform in which all communications between employer and freelancer must take place.
Yudoozy’s business model is based on employers paying a monthly subscription as opposed to collecting a percentage per hire or from an hourly rate. For NZ$200 a month, employers have unlimited access to all contractors and freelancers on the platform – and not just their availabilities and rates but also their direct contact details. In fact there is no booking engine within the platform at all, making it almost work like a database of available talent rather than a contractor management platform per se.
This is intentional. Co-founders Greig Cranfield and Trudi Batson both have strong backgrounds in recruitment. Cranfield worked in a London agency recruiting UX designers for large digital agencies before moving to New Zealand. The same issues kept arising with clients when it came to finding short-term and project-based contractor staff in particular.
Batson is the owner of Razzbri Digital, which is a digital recruitment agency based out of Auckland, New Zealand. It was also the agency Cranfield worked for when he moved to New Zealand.
Cranfield went to Batson with the idea for Yudoozy, saying that he thought this was the way forward when it came to managing contractor talent and if they didn’t do it, somebody else would.
“Clients want to be able to go from literally log-in to being able to see snapshot of who’s available, their rate and how quickly they can get to me, as quick as possible, so we’ve kept that down to 15 seconds,” said Cranfield.
“Straight from their log-in, customers will just see their dashboard, which has got their favourited contractors and recent search, and so on. The most important thing is the search bar across the top, so if customers need a designer based in Wellington, or a PHP developer in Auckland, they can search and the platform populates a list underneath with a calendar view so the employers can see availabilities.”
The Yudoozy platform, which is around two months old, already has more than 300 freelancers in its database. Employers can see who’s available this week or how many are available in the next month; and can click directly on anyone they think might be interesting. It will bring up their profile, work experience, bio, hourly rate and most importantly, their contact details and portfolio.
This essentially makes Yudoozy more of a directory than a booking system. The other important distinction between the platform and global competitors is that all freelancers on the platform must be based in New Zealand. The co-founders are very passionate about keeping local jobs, even outsourced ones within the country.
Obviously this model presents a risk to Batson’s existing business, because the model essentially cannibalises an entire section of Razzbri, at least in the short-term. In the longer term, it could end up being the smart move because as more and more employers seek out an easy monthly, self-driven solution for hiring, Yudoozy could very well be the first port of call.
In terms of scaling the company beyond New Zealand, Cranfield told Startup Daily that the same ‘local talent, local outsourcing’ model would apply within those roll-outs.
“It is really important [to our model],” said Cranfield. “For buy-in, a lot of the freelancers we spoke to earlier on, and still speak to for user testing, have said they really appreciate that it’s for local freelancers only.”
This comes down to the competitiveness of the outsourcing space for freelancers. On a global platform you have freelancers from advanced economies competing with others from emerging economies and it is not sustainable for a coder in New Zealand or Australia to go head-to-head with another from somewhere such as Poland.
“A lot of the clients we talked to said that the temptation is there to send something overseas but the quality is never as good of what they get back so it does seem to be a real key differentiator for us,” said Cranfield. “Something that’s got a lot of buy-in as well is that we are helping to keep the local job market thriving.”
Although the platform is in its first iteration and ‘local focus’ is a strong point that will help Yudoozy gain significant traction, I do question the company’s decision to not integrate a contractor management solution into the platform. Having hired many contractors over the years in both my own business and corporate roles, I would say that the ‘finding’ part of the solution is on the money, but these days that end-to-end service is becoming more of an expectation as opposed to an add-on.
Having said that, Cranfield was clear that nothing about the current version of the platform was finite and that feedback from users is something he and Batson are using to build the platform clients want. Over the coming months Yudoozy will begin to prep itself for the prospect of raising a seed funding round to further its reach across the country.