Connor Gillivan – Outsourcing from FreeeUp
Last updated August 28, 2019
Connor Gillivan joined me for the second time to deep dive into FreeeUp, an outsourcing freelancer platform co-founded by himself. In this second episode, Connor shares how his outsourcing platform compares with the other providers and the core values that differentiate FreeeUp.
There’s a higher quality of freelancer in FreeeUp and I think that a lot of it had impressions people get a freelancer and outsourcing is because there’s just kind of anyone out there in the marketplace.
Connor serves as the CMO of FreeeUp handling all marketing, advertising, content, partnerships, and website/software design. In the 3 short years that he’s been working on FreeeUp, they have grown their user base rapidly to over 15,000 clients from all over the world. FreeeUp also received over 150,000 applications from freelancers wanting to join the platform.
Hi, and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator podcast. My name is Derek Gallimore and this is Episode No. 216. So I am lucky to have Connor Gillivan back again of FreeeUp, that’s Freee, with three e’s. FreeeUp is an outsourcing freelancer platform, similar to Upwork but it has a lot more vetting and procedures involve on who they let on the platform. So, there’s a higher quality of freelancer there and I think that a lot of it had impressions people get a freelancer and outsourcing is because there’s just kind of anyone out there in the marketplace.
So FreeeUp is a good product. And as mentioned, I don’t get any money from this podcast. This is not infomercial but I enjoyed talking to people like Connor because it gives good insight into the breadth of outsourcing options and platforms out there. So, I learned a lot about FreeeUp and I learned a lot about freelancing and outsourcing. So I hope you enjoy this also and also learn something.
If you want any of the show notes or if you want to know any more about this thing, then go to outsourceaccelerator.com/216. Enjoy!
Hi and welcome back everybody. And today I am lucky enough to be joined by Connor Gillivan again of FreeeUp.
Hi, Connor, how are you doing?
Connor: Hey, how it is going?
Derek: Fantastic. Thanks. So, it’s really good to have you back. We have had you on a previous episode and people can go back and listen to your own back story about how FreeeUp came to be. And today, I am really excited to have you back so we can deep dive into what FreeeUp does and how you believe it better serves the markets and some of the other platforms out there. Now, you know, as I say to all my listeners this is not an informercial, this is about showing people the resources and the facilities out there for people and also you know, I encourage everyone to consider outsourcing and just give it a go. And I think FreeeUp is an ideal platform for that because of some of that sort of the measures that they put in place which will go into soon.
So great to have you on board Connor. So I supposed initially do you want to just introduce yourself for those that haven’t heard the prior episode we did with you?
Connor: Yeah, of course. Happy to introduce myself. As Derek said my name is Connor Gillivan. I am an entrepreneur here in the US. I started my first business in 2009. And I worked in the eCommerce world and helping brands to sell their products on Amazon. With that first business, I ended up building out a team of about 60 people half of which were outsourced using different platforms like ODesk and Upwork and Elance and it eventually led my business partner and I to start our own freelance market place which I will be talking about and it’s called FreeeUp, and I currently serve as the Chief Marketing Officer of the company.
Derek: Fantastic. Just to go back you know, you’re doing the drop shipping and you look to these major platforms and you had kind of issues in terms of quality and things like that. So you built FreeeUp to attend to those issues, how do you attend to those issues? Because you know this is one of the biggest issues in the market, isn’t it? And very commonly as we actually spoke about in the last episode, very commonly tried a little bit of outsourcing, there maybe influenced by Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek. They are going to some of the platforms and they maybe getting unreliable person or the quality was not what they expected, so they gave up the whole idea of outsourcing. But what are the processes you put in place to make sure it’s a bit more of a smoother process?
Connor: Yeah, of course. So it’s three core things that differentiate us from some of the other larger market places. The first is that we pre-vet all of the freelancers that applied to join our platform. So, the freelancer wants to start offering their services and meeting clients their FreeeUp, they come in, they fill out an application, a number of them are invited to interview. Another number of those are invited to a final testing process and only the top one percent are allowed into the network. So we kind of do that upfront for our clients. The second thing is the process of actually introducing a client to a freelancer. So the client will come to us to fill out a short ten-question form that explains who they are looking to hire and what the task is they’re looking to outsource. We then have an internal team that goes into our market place of freelancers, makes the first available. And then we only introduce one freelancer to the client at a time so that they are not overwhelmed, they can have an interview with them, they can chat with them. And then if they want more options, they can always let us know. So, we try to make that introduction process, a bit simpler. And then the final thing is we just have a big focus on customer service. Myself, and my business partner, and our entire internal team, really care about our clients and freelancers. We are always available to chat with them and help them along with the process. So, I would say those are the three things that really make us a little bit different.
Derek: Right. And how does that work then, how do you delineate between the kind of matching up the requirement with the supplier versus actually getting into someone’s business and kind of analyzing their requirements and then helping them out when it’s not going so well. It’s a sort of fine line there, making sure that there’s a separation between actually finding the person to do it and actually ensuring that the work gets done.
Connor: Yeah. Great question. Like you said, we do a bit of qualification when the introduction was made. So, we know if the client has a certain budget and we know that they need the individual to have a certain number of skills sets or knowledge of software. We only introduce them to people that fit those certain criteria that they tell us about. So, we make sure that everything matches up in terms of their requirements but then when it actually comes to implementing the work and the tasks, it is much more between the freelancer and the client to work that out together. And something that helps with that like I said is we do a lot of this vetting upfront so we really work for freelancers and agencies that have done these for years. They worked with tons of clients, they know how to do it, they have clear processes for how they go about starting their work. And so they really help to facilitate that, the initial work that happens between them and the new clients, even if the client isn’t familiar with outsourcing.
Derek: Right, right. And because at the start there is a bit of kind of onboarding requirements, even the most experienced and successful business people I find, still need a little bit of hand holding at the start as they basically get themselves up to speed with the concept to promote working or employment and kind of onboarding and building teams remotely. Sometimes it can be a little bit of a bumpy journey to start out with. There’s also the saying that if you had a bad coffee, don’t stop drinking coffee you maybe just go to another place to get a better coffee. And I think that applies a lot to outsourcing. If you have one bad experience, I really hope that people just realized that there are varied candidates out there and there’s a huge opportunity and resources in outsourcing and people should just really stick with that a little while. But what is an example of a success story then because generally I find that people start really quite tenderly with maybe half of full-time VA, do you see some teams scaling up incredibly once they kind of realized the opportunity in outsourcing and how to really harness this resource?
Connor: Yeah, absolutely. We have a good number of clients that we’ve been working with through the full three years that we’ve been in business. When we first started with them, they maybe only selling a few products on Amazon and there kind of learning about selling online and figuring out how it all work. Then maybe they started with us and hired a consultant who had a lot of experience and kind of walk them through the process and taught them more about the business model. Then they moved down to bring a VA in who could help them with different tasks. And two to three years down the line now, they may not be only selling on Amazon but they have their own website where they’re selling their products, and their selling on other market places as well. So, we’ve been able to see some really cool stories of people that at first didn’t really know about outsourcing and they came in with an open mind but also probably a little bit skeptical that they have a few good experiences and they saw how it was able to help them build their business and make more sales and increase their revenue, and then over time they just figured out how to slowly add more and more people further, and like you said it doesn’t always have to be starting full time, a lot of it starts, “Hey, let’s do ten ours here. Let’s do ten hours there, and let’s do five hours here.”
EXPLORE OUTSOURCING: GET 3 FREE QUOTES
And just over time, as the business grows, the hours for those people were able to grow as well.
Derek: And do you, so let’s sort that up, and do you have a very flexible kind of job placements. It’s effectively, if people want to do a one-hour project or five-hours a week, is there sort of any job structure that you accept on the platform?
Connor: Yes, exactly. So, we don’t have any minimums. So you could come in and hire someone for an hour, and then not hire them for another week. If they come in and hire someone for 40-hours per week, it’s really up to what your business needs at that time.
Derek: Fantastic. So, when people scaled, do they start to build a hierarchy so there’s maybe a pioneer, or a manager that basically works directly with the person but then starts to build a team under them? Do you se the beginnings of a sort of an organizational structure within these outsourcing teams?
Connor: We have seen that becoming very common. I think it usually happens after the business has hired, let’s say three to five people and they start to see themselves spending too much time actually managing and communicating with those people. They go ahead then and hire like you said almost a project manager that sits in between them and those three to five other people and that project manager becomes responsible for making sure those other freelancers are following their tasks, their providing updates, and the project manager is the one that reports all those things to the actual business owner.
Derek: Fantastic. And does all of that happen over your platform? Like how do people taught to be engage in work, does your platform then come with sort of an essence of a project manage within the interface?
Connor: So, we don’t have project management in the software yet. The software does handle all the hours tracking between the freelancers and the clients and were currently right now developing an instant messaging system. Then the project manager abilities is going to be something that were working on next year as well.
Derek: Right, right. And I see then that you offer this very clear pricing on your website, which I think helps a lot of people. Yet people don’t want a lot of, there’s a lot of ambiguity in the market in terms of what outsourcing cost and what the structures are. So, it’s very clear price on your site, and also you offer US, UK, and Canada freelancing as well, is it that right?
Connor: Like you said, the pricing page on our site, we try to break it down into ranges so that people have a basic idea of what they may pay for a certain skill set and then base on where the person is located as well. And again, these are just ranges because all the freelancers do settle on rates through the platform but we found this to be very helpful for business owners who even if their extremely experienced if they just never hired outside of their specific area before, this gives them a general ball park to be able to work with and it also shows them that if you go somewhere outside of the US, UK, CA, you are going to get a little bit of cheaper pricing but if you are looking for someone with higher level expertise or whose an entrepreneur themselves and acts more on a consultancy level then you are going to pay a little bit more but those people are available as well.
Derek: Fantastic. Yeah, the ideal look with the BPOs in the industry in the Philippines, it’s very opaque as to what their charges are. Most of them kind of have clear structures but it’s just not on their website, we are trying to move the entire market so that it’s like an easy clean interface with prices. So, it’s good to see this. Just in terms of the FreeeUp pricing, do you take commissions like so many of the platforms, or how does it work?
Connor: Yes, so we do take a 15% commission out of the pricing that you see on the website. So, on the website, those are the prices that if you’re the business owner that’s what you would actually pay on an hourly basis. We kind of add it all right in, so that it isn’t confusing to anyone. And billing periods are run on a weekly basis from Wednesday through Tuesday, clients are billed every Thursday. We hold the money in escrow for a week in case there are any disputes and then minus 15%, the remainder is paid to all of the freelancers the following week.
Derek: Fantastic. I supposed just to end on a high note, you mentioned previously the last time we chatted that a quick win is social media. What are some really incredible resources that you think some people will just be blown away by? Because a lot of the impression of the outsourcing in the Philippines is that it’s most basic mundane task, but what are some kind of cool jobs, cool roles, cool people that you’ve seen really flourished on these platforms?
Connor: Yeah, absolutely. So this is from personal experience hiring people and then also the success I’ve seen some of our clients have. I’ve been able to find some amazing people for search engine optimization. If that’s a part of your business, you can absolutely find people there.
Derek: Which is pretty technical?
Connor: Oh, yeah, it can get technical for sure. I’ve met some people with very high-level experience with it, which is just amazing. Another one is just the ability to build your website, that’s not something that you have the capabilities to do. There’s many talented designers out there that can come in, can understand your business, understand your brand, all of it and then help you spin up your own website or your own online store. So I’ve been a little bit of higher level and pretty amazing that you can find someone who can do that for you as well.
Derek: Fantastic. I completely agree with this. There’s an incredible world out there and people often are limiting themselves to hiring on their own hometown, when there’s actually seven billion people on the planet and of which there’s probably about two billion pretty good opportunities out there. So, it’s good that you’re out there promoting this.
Thank you so much Connor. I obviously encouraged people to check out for your App, and if you’re not outsourcing, start. Just dip your toe and start and FreeeUp is a fantastic place for that. And if people want to get in touch with you Connor, or know more about you or FreeeUp, how can they do that?
Connor: Sure. So, anyone is welcome to email me, my email is [email protected]. I’m also pretty active on social media, you can just look up my name Connor Gillivan on Facebook, I’ll be happy to chat. And then if you do want to set up a phone call to chat, you can go to freeeup.com and there’s a button that schedule a meeting, where you see a direct link to my calendar. So any of those ways are great to get in touch.
Derek; Fantastic. Thank so much Connor.
Connor: Thanks so much.
Derek: Okay. That was Connor Gillivan of FreeeUp. If you want to know any more about Connor or FreeeUp or get in touch with any of them or the show notes, then go to outsourceaccelerator.com/216. And of course, if you want to ask us anything then just drop us an email to [email protected]. See you next time.