MyCrowd, a startup that helps companies find freelance talent for specific tasks through Google Docs, PowerPoint and other software applications, is raising $500,000 in a seed round from unnamed angel investors to add more connectors including Evernote and expand beyond its existing base of around 10 million specialists.
MyCrowd’s in-app functionality allows users to identify and hire freelance talent through single click. For instance, an executive creating a PowerPoint pitch can hire a designer or a proofreader without leaving the application. In some ways, the startup combines the ability to evaluate talent based in locations that offer the best price, with the ease of Dropbox-like interface, on-the-go.
“MyCrowd turns the familiar freelancing model on its head by bringing high quality workers directly to users,” Matthew Cordasco, the startup’s CEO said in a statement. “Every day millions of tasks are left undone because it’s too much of a hassle to navigate to a portal like 99designs to create an entire project to complete a task.”
The startup was co-founded by two IBM veterans — Cordasco and Kirk Franzen in 2013. In his past assignments, Cordasco founded website analytics startup Overstat, which was later sold to Tealeaf (which in turn was sold to IBM for $400 million).
MyCrowd is hoping to tap into the existing demand for freelancers, which is growing exponentially. Research identifies 40 million freelancers in the U.S. alone, also forecasting that 30 percent of Americans could be freelancers within 10 years, the company said in a statement. At $10 billion in 2013, the online market is predicted to grow to $50 billion by 2018, which represents only a fraction of the larger contingent worker market, promising strong growth for years to come.
The idea behind MyCrowd is also to encourage and help U.S.-based companies hire freelance talent ovally, instead of dealing with complexities of outsourcing tasks overseas.
“Most people think that economies of efficiency can only be achieved hiring overseas, not true, simply hiring across state lines can keep the dollars in the US while still benefiting the business.”, adds Cordasco. MyCrowd charges user fees of between 2 percent and 15 percent per transaction.
While startups including oDesk, Elance and Guru aim to address a similar need, MyCrowd is hoping to instead partner with them and aggregate all available freelance talent on one platform. Through partnerships, MyCrowd aggregates oDesk’s and freelancer.com’s worldwide workforces while inviting other vertical platforms to make their workers available, the startup said in a statement.
“We have an API coming out later this year that we will make available to developers so they can build their own add-ons, extensions and connectors leveraging MyCrowd’s features and aggregated workers, It’s like an API for the crowd,” said Kirk Franzen, MyCrowd’s VP of Engineering.
The market for online marketplaces that offer freelance talent has been growing, but also undergoing a consolidation. In December last year, two of the biggest companies in the space — oDesk and Elance — announced a merger that could potentially create a freelance marketplace with over 8 million registered workers and $750 million in bookings in 2013.
The challenge for MyCrowd will be to achieve its aim of becoming an aggregator across all these platforms, and making sure that it’s not positioned as just another new entrant looking to tap into an established, commoditized market.