Investing in the freelance / gig economy

Over the past decade, the freelance sector has become a popular area for startups, but does it still present a good investment opportunity or is it now a crowded market?

Only 0.17% of freelancers are using B2B platforms.

There are hundreds of new job-sites that are promoting a unique widget or algorithm for matching freelance talent with companies. Yet, only 0.17% of freelancers are using B2B platforms.*

The low adoption to freelancer job sites is caused by professional hiring managers, at recognisable brands, preferring to book freelancers that they already know or are recommended by colleagues, with engagement often carried out through email and telephone. This leaves job-sites competing, with large acquisition costs, for a relatively small number of less-reputable companies to post jobs on their sites. Consequently, low-paid opportunities, combined with high commission, competitive marketplaces and bidding models that drive down rates, discourage experienced freelancers. The shallow talent pools then further deters reputable companies and exacerbates the problem.

Freelancer marketplaces are operating in small, crowded space; however, there is another, considerably-larger area of the freelance economy that is underserved.

Just 3% of the freelance economy are using digital platforms, leaving 97% underserved. 

The large, underserved area of the freelance economy comprises of recruitment agencies, HR teams and freelancers relying on antiquated services, such as email and spreadsheets, to engage their networks, share availability and rates, negotiate costs, make and confirm bookings, create and sign contracts, track time worked, update the itinerary, manage budgets, share and confirm expenses, raise timesheets or invoices, make batch-payments and calculate tax.

Whenever apps are available, they are disconnected, and accumulating and then populating the job details, which often buried in emails, into invoice software is laborious and time-consuming. This disorganisation is the reason why BBC production coordinator, Sarah Vickers, believes she often receives inaccurate invoices.

As the gig economy continues to grow exponentially, there is also more need to address freelancers’ primary concerns regarding their financial health, such as late payments, no sick benefits and poor access to financial products.

While the majority of freelancer startups are building new matching algorithms in order to acquire a piece of the 0.17% of freelancers using job sites, there is a much-larger area of the freelance economy, worth $4,461 billion*, that is ripe for disruption. It is this area that innovative startup, YellowWork, focuses on.

YellowWork is a next-generation recruitment services, freelancer management, banking and financial services ecosystem, but it’s more than a business-in-a-box…

It’s powered by a super-productivity Calendar with proprietary booking technology – it’s the most data-rich resource on recruiters’, HR teams’ and freelancers’ work, earnings and behaviour. By sharing Calendar data, YellowWork automates the entire work process, from availability and applicant tracking to contract and invoice raising.

Calendar data is also shared with YellowMoney (banking app that drives budgets, expenses and payments) to establish a credit score. Harnessed by innovative insurance, lending and investment partners, products are automatically priced and sold at strategic points in the work value-chain, providing members with better access to essential financial products and improving financial wellness.

With some early traction, YellowWork is beginning their SEIS raise of £150k to drive them to a large Seed round.

YellowWork (YellowWork.io) has 4x innovate products, YellowWork, YellowRecruiter, YellowJobs and YellowMoney.

The next phase of development will integrate them into 1x app, with each tool (Invoicing, Contacts, Banking etc) having their own landing page (subdomains of YellowWork.io) to target audiences with a specific product.

YellowWork (yellowwork.io)

The complete booking, management and payment solution for freelancers and booking managers. At the core is a Calendar that’s designed for freelance work, providing smart availability, booking and time-tracking, while automating contracts, invoicing, timesheets and payments.

YellowRecruiter (recruiter.yellowwork.io)

The smart recruitment management system for recruitment agencies and HR teams. Integrated with YellowWork and YellowJobs, YellowRecruiter enables recruiters to track their candidates’ availability, share multimedia job descriptions, headhunt, post to YellowJobs, track applicants, share shortlists and book interviews.

YellowJobs (jobs.yellowwork.io)

The job opportunities platform that connects job-seekers directly to the applicant tracking systems used by leading brands. Integrated with YellowRecruiter and YellowWork, YellowJobs enables freelancers to apply and submit their rates with one click, as well as manage opportunities, with direct engagement with recruiters, through their Calendars.

YellowMoney (money.yellowwork.io)

YellowMoney is a budget management, payments, expenses, accounting and banking platform for recruiters, HR teams and freelancers. By connecting to their Calendars, it provides them with a credit score that can be shared with insurance, lending and saving partners to acquire suitable financial products, from invoice factoring for recruiters to flexible mortgages for freelancers.

YellowWork’s farther (considerable investor) has a 30-year financial service business that is making YellowMoney an Appointed Representative.

Opportunity

We have first mover advantage in a relatively new, quickly-growing work economy, which is still reliant on antiquated systems. Our Calendar has been built to facilitate multiple currencies and booking types, from specific dates and deadlines to time-tracked and shift work. This supports all industry vertices below, with YellowMoney facilitating more (all self employed).

The financial services sector is also ready for disruption, replacing brokers with more efficient automation and AI. We have received considerable appetite from large reputable insurance and lending partners who are ready to automate their processes.

Needless to say, YellowWork is a next generation work and financial services disrupter, a potential Unicorn with considerable ROI. With product-market-fit and a great team, we are well-placed to drive YellowWork to market leader.

Founder and CEO, Richard Jeffs, is a former TV producer and freelance director-of-photography at the BBC. More recently, he is an IPSE freelancer award-winner and a talented UX designer and project manager. Richard has made it his mission to build the most effective, and widely used, freelancer ecosystem and is looking for strategic investors to back him and the YellowWork team.

We have SEIS advanced assurance granted by HMRC for an investment for up to £150,000, with the following tax reliefs:

  • Individual Income Tax relief of 50% of the amount invested
  • Exemption from Capital Gains on earnings from shares
  • Profits realised within three years are exempt from Capital Gains if reinvested in the SEIS
  • Loss relief if the company fails (even if this is within the three-year hold period)

Please contact richard@yellowwork.io for a copy of the deck.

Source: *Staffing Industry Analysts 2018 (USD gross spend).

Written by Richard Jeffs
Former freelance TV Producer and Director of Photography. Now Founder and CEO of YellowWork.io

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