8 months ago Availo was co-founded by myself, Nick & Nick and we’re now finally ready to show everyone what we’ve been building. Most people, including ourselves, assumed Availo was just going to be an App that helped freelance designers get jobs. But we’ve come to realise the huge potential of what we’re building and Availo has become something much, much bigger.
What’s the problem
In early 2016 we realised there was a big gap in communication between freelancers and the clients who hire them (more on the back story here). There are a number of freelance marketplaces out there trying to solve this problem, however no existing platform has got this exactly right. We believe this is because of two main reasons:
They aren’t built for freelancers
The majority of existing solutions are built for the clients needs first. This means that freelancers have to jump through hoops to land the type of work they want. They’re required to regularly check these websites, compete for projects, apply to numerous jobs, update portfolios, all whilst managing and filtering inbound work requests from huge numbers of sources (not to mention having to deal with unsolicited recruiter emails 🙁).
This is why over 70% of freelancers still get work from their network, not from websites. In short, if clients want to hire the best talent, they can’t do so from most marketplaces out there, because the best freelancers rarely use them.
They’re walled gardens
We also noticed how all existing platforms pretty much lock in both freelancers and clients to their websites & services. They aren’t flexible in any way at all, as both a client and freelancer is required to access the same website before they can work together. This not only means the platforms are hard to scale, but it also restricts how people can use it. Freelancers get work from their websites, social networks and emails, in addition to using freelance marketplaces. We realised there should be a way of pulling all of these sources of work together.
How we’re going to solve it
After discovering the problems outlined above, we started from the ground up and drew out 4 clear areas that would make Availo into a truly new platform, that both freelancer and client would love to use.
Freelancer first 🤓
We want to build something that prioritised the needs of a freelancer, making finding new work as easy as replying to a message on your phone. To do this, we scrapped the idea of job boards completely, instead allowing clients to filter profiles, before reaching out to a freelancer directly. This is a win — win, as client no longer have to filter through applicants, and freelancers never need to apply to a freelance job again.
Community focussed 👫
Availo is about bringing together clients and freelancers, so we’ve been spending a great deal of time listening to the needs of both sides. We don’t just want to build a platform, but instead want to grow a strong community of freelancers and clients, working with them to build software that helps everyone work together. So far we have run a few mini networking events, ‘board meetings’ with freelancers, and have a great slack community of 100+ freelancers in London.
Building integrations 🤖
A big thing for us is that we’re not building a job board, a recruitment site, or a portfolio site. Instead we’re focussed on building a solid platform that is effectively a funnel, allowing us to bring in work for freelancers from various sources, with the endpoint always being Availo; making it extremely easy to manage inbound work. This is likely to become everything from booking widgets on portfolio sites, through to API integrations to HR systems.
End to end streamlined hiring 📄
As mentioned above, our end goal is to make the process of a client hiring a freelancer as simple as placing a booking on AirBnb. We want to make the whole process of finding the right person, booking them, signing contracts, sending invoices and managing payments as painless as possible. At launch we won’t have this implemented, but over the next year, this will be our focus.
Effectively we want to build a funnel that can bring in work from all sources directly to the freelancers phone, then help freelancers & clients quickly finanalise contracts and payments before working together. It will look something a bit like this.
What we’ve launched now
Our long term aim is to effectively become the invisible third party. But, as it will take a while to build out this process fully, our first few products our focussed on simply allowing clients to search, chat then book freelancers instantly. Out the gate we want to help freelancers get work and help clients quickly hire available freelancers.
So at launch, clients can either use our web app, or native iOS app, to search for freelancers based on key skills, then start a conversation with them, outlining the brief, start dates, budget, etc. Before finally hitting a button to book them. At this point, someone from the Availo team will join the conversation and assist with contracts and payments as needed.
Right now we’re focussing on listening to both clients and freelancers, gaining their feedback on what we’re doing, then using their input to iterate and change the product. We’re aiming to leave our ‘Beta’ badge behind early next year, with a full v1 launch of Availo in London, San Francisco and New York. By then we’ll have a slick booking, contract and payment system in place, plus 100’s of clients and freelancers on the platform.
In the meantime, we would love to hear your thoughts on what we’re doing, so do get in touch with us via our site, or via twitter. And if you haven’t already, head over and apply to use Availo as a client or freelancer here.
If you’re an Availo freelancer (or a pre-approved client), try out the desktop app here straight away 🎉.
A big thanks to everyone who has supported myself and the Nick’s so far. We’re really looking forward to seeing the projects that come from Freelancers and clients using our platform 😊. Don’t forget to let us know your thoughts and comments on twitter.