Freelancer.com has hit a nerve in Latin America – perhaps especially Brazil. Since launching in the country about a year and a half ago, its user base has grown an explosive 780%, today reaching over 150,000 employers and workers. And according to company CEO Matt Barrie, the platform’s success is very much tied to the startup community:
The Latin American region, and particularly Brazil, is exploding with entrepreneurial SMEs, especially tech startups. The region is the home of the SME and high quality freelancers, where more than 95% of the businesses are SMEs that employ more than 70% of the workforce. That’s a huge market. Connecting SMEs with freelancers all around the world is not a niche, it is a category killer, and we have become the market leaders of the space.
Of course, Freelancer.com is open to businesses small and large. However, it’s those on the smaller end of the spectrum that tend to benefit most. “We find that SMEs are the main businesses who can hire quickly, easily and without all the bureaucracy and red tape that large corporations sometimes have,” the executive outlined.
Another key aspect is the psyche small business owners possess – one of entrepreneurship. “They get ideas all the time, want to act quickly and with agility and might get frustrated because they don’t have the skilled labor on hand execute on them. This is where Freelancer steps in. We connect entrepreneurs with their great ideas with the talented people who can help them to turn their ideas into reality, for a competitive price and with high quality,” he assured.
Of course, employers are only one side of the Freelancer.com equation. The freelancers themselves are perhaps the most essential part of the operation.
According to Barrie, Brazilian freelancers are especially talented in IT and marketing, in the regional rivaled only by Argentine workers in terms of talent. The scenario is evolving, and other areas are on the rise as well:
Whilst traditionally the jobs posted on Freelancer.com were highly technical due to the early adoption by the tech and IT sector, the interesting thing now is that in the last month we are seeing huge growth in freelancers categorizing themselves from other sectors, such as marketing, graphic design and logo design. What is even more exciting is that many Brazilians are starting to be hired not only from countries such as the U.S.A., U.K. or Australia, but also from Brazilians companies that before our launch in Brazil in November 2012 didn’t have the chance to meet each other, even virtually.
Across the region, Freelancer.com has taken a strong hold not only in Brazil but also in Argentina, Mexico and Colombia. In Argentina, the platform reached 100,000 users in just a year, and in Colombia, it has gathered a community of 65,000 registered users in six months.
“People see Freelancer.com not only as an alternative to make some extra money but also to change dramatically their way of life,” Barrie remarked. “Going ‘freelancer’ allows people to equilibrate their personal life with their professional one, working in the place, time and situation that they fell more comfortable.”
In Brazil, however, it’s not just the freelance lifestyle that gets users on board – it’s also the country’s growing technological prowess:
Another boost to our growth in Brazil, aside from our own work and strategy, is the increasing levels of broadband connectivity that Brazilians are experiencing. With a total population of over 200 million people, any increase in the percentage to internet connection is a dramatic change on the net numbers.
In Brazil, Latin America and globally, Barrie emphasized that the Freelancer.com platform is a two-way street for interaction between employers and freelancers. And the hiring process isn’t as straightforward as one may think:
In simple words, although most of the people think that price is the key factor to hire a freelancer through our platform, the real thing is that a freelancer’s (or company’s) track record, experience, past work performed within Freelancer.com, timeliness of payment in the case of the companies, and feedback gotten from prior employers/freelancers are the most important variables that both freelancers and employers look at when making transactions with each other. Isn’t this the same thing in the offline world? Just because we are working online does not mean the way we have always done business goes out the window.
The internet hasn’t brought about the complete transformation of employment, but it certainly has shaken things up – and companies and workers in Brazil and throughout LatAm are taking note. “Freelancer.com offers business owners and entrepreneurs the opportunity to work with a flexible and talented labor pool from all around the world,” Barrie concluded. “It allows savvy businesses to connect, collaborate and get work done!”