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Is It Time For Freelance Startups To Collaborate?

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getty By any reasonable measure, the freelance revolution has taking root and is flying high. Numbers tell part of the story. Upwork , for example, reckons that 60,000,000 Americans are taking part as gigsters, full-time freelancers or side-giggers. McKinsey four years back estimated the global population of gigsters and freelancers above 160,000,000, but that was before Covid 19 gut punched the global economy, eliminated tens of millions of full-time jobs, and encouraged many more millions to try their hand at freelancing. And, the millions of freelancers trying their hand on a full-time or part-time basis has yielded an explosion of startups expanding or supporting the freelance revolution. I write about freelancers and the digital talent marketplaces that support them, and I am struck by the frequency with which I hear from new CEOs and entrepreneurial teams. Here’s an example from this morning from a new CEO, describing , an innovative new platform and an example of the marvelous creativity we’re seeing in the talent space and in HR Tech generally: “I’ve appreciated your analysis about freelance revolution and impacts on companies organization & employees. is based in Paris and Dublin, it is a new type of digital agency/consulting firm, combining a growth marketing agency and a highly selective product freelancing community. With my associate, from our previous professional experiences in big companies and as freelancers, we wanted to mix the agility of freelancing and the specific high expertise of a digital agency, and MAKE them work together to always deliver more value to our clients by offering them the best of these two “worlds” and to adapt better to theirs organizations.” I’m looking forward to learning more about, but not only. By my estimate, and there’s some extrapolation involved, there are at least a couple hundred freelance platforms forming around the world, or moving from infancy to adolescence. I’m a writer and teacher, not an organizer, but I wonder whether it’s time for startup leaders to more actively and intentionally collaborate, as well as compete. In each interview, I find that freelance pioneers are eager to hear what one another is doing, learning and planning, and it comes from a place of shared enthusiasm for the space and its possibilities, not just their competitive instincts. Interviews inevitably turn into discussions and brainstorms, and always end with a request to be introduced to other entrepreneurs. Is there value in organizing a founder’s club for this new generation of digital talent marketplace CEOs and the ecosystem partners that support them? Here’s why the time might be right, and what the new generation of marketplace CEOs might do about it: Collaborating for a rising tide . Most of the startup CEOs I speak with are working hard to grow their business, but recognize that freelancing is still a relatively immature industry with cultural barriers to growth. The logic of “on demand” is clear, but most corporates haven’t recognized the value of a flexible, blended workforce. Many cultures still regard […]

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