There is no shortage of platforms available to connect brands and individuals to freelancers of all stripes, but Dave Bentley, former managing director of digital agency MullenLowe Profero, and Nick Stevens, the former senior tech lead at Razorfish, had long felt there was a gap in the market when it comes to finding quality freelancers to support digital and advertising agencies.
Across two decades in the industry, Bentley said that while freelancing was becoming more important strategically due to increased revenue volatility, finding quality freelancers was difficult, costly, and time consuming for brands.
And so Cavalry Freelancing, an end-to-end management system helping companies and freelancers do everything from find each other to generate invoices and send payments, was born.
The platform allows companies to pick freelancers according to what they need and when they need it with targeted Gig Alerts, where Cavalry sends out an email detailing the job to a shortlist of suitable freelancers, or through Cavalry’s search feature, which recommends the suitability of a freelancer for a job based on their expertise, skills, availability, rates, and reputation, Bentley said.
A freelancer can then be added to a company ‘roster’, which looks to help companies build and nurture relationships with their freelancers.
“Being on a roster demonstrates an elevated strategic relationship and ensures that a freelancer is the first or second option when gigs crop up that require their skillset,” Bentley explained. “Being on a roster is [also] promoted as a badge on the freelancer’s profile and has some impact on their rankings in search.”
According to Bentley, the startup is targeting local, highly skilled freelancers with “a track record of applying their craft within the advertising, marketing, or technology sectors”, with these typically freelancers with expertise in creative, software development, digital, data, or communications.
On the other side of the market, Cavalry is targeting companies in the advertising, marketing, or tech sectors who are likely to have existing expertise and capabilities in developing creative, communications, or digital activity, Bentley explained.
With this in mind, Bentley said these companies typically rely on freelancers to supplement their team during busy periods, or boost their team with “strategically important skill sets” they can’t afford or justify in-house.
“Our early focus has been advertising, digital and comms agencies, but equally Cavalry can support in-house companies or product teams as well as startups looking for expertise to supplement their burgeoning team. With these companies we can help connect them with freelancers who can work onsite or remotely,” Bentley said.
The startup has brought on clients including PR agency One Green Bean and tech company Kounta, while Wayne Arnold, cofounder of MullenLowe Profero, has invested in the company’s seed funding round.
“While there is enormous enthusiasm for Cavalry within the industry, changing an industry’s behaviour is always hard,” Bentley said.
“Learning this, we’re now heavily focused on making sure that we’re hand-holding new customers through the Cavalry experience and supporting them along the journey to make sure its seamless and enjoyable. While it doesn’t scale long term, we learn so much about their expectations and build tangible relationships that transcend the platform.”
The startup charges a commission fee of nine percent on a booking, with Bentley explaining Cavalry has positioned this fee as comparable to a recruitment fee in order for it to be immediately understood by the industry.
“As an MD of an agency for seven years, I experienced first-hand the discomfort of paying high recruitment fees. Right from the beginning I wanted to develop a pricing model that was unquestionably great value for customers and felt disruptive to the industry,” he said.
“The pricing model of nine percent commission fee on a booking is approximately half of what a recruiter will charge.”
While the likes of Freelancer and Upwork keep growing, Bentley is confident Cavalry is filling a clear gap in the market in its focus on supporting the advertising and digital sectors.
“There are many that graze the edges of it but promote very different types of freelancers including Expert360, Upwork and The Right Fit. At this stage, I would see established recruiters within the industry as our direct competitors,” he said.
Bentley said the startup is “well on our way” to hitting its calendar year targets of getting 280 companies and 2,200 local and active freelancers on board, with the goal for 2019 to look to expansion in markets including New Zealand and Singapore.
Image: Nick Stevens and David Bentley. Source: Supplied.