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Freelancer Marketplace Ooomf Becomes Crew, Grabs $2.1 Million

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Ooomf, the one-time app discovery startup which last year relaunched as a freelancer marketplace to connect mobile and web developers with projects that fit their skill set, is now changing its name to Crew, and announcing new funding. The company has raised an additional $2.1 million in a new round led by Fred Destin of Atlas Venture, investors in other marketplaces like Moo.com, Creative Market, CustomMade, and AngelList.

 

Also participating were Naval Ravikant, founder of AngelList; Real Ventures; iNovia Capital; Boldstart Venture Capital and others.

Before starting Crew, the founding team were independent developers and designers themselves, which is why their shift to this type of business made sense. Plus, as co-founder Mikael Cho explained last year, helping companies build quality apps is really the first and most important piece to app discoverability, anyway.

As of a year ago, Crew (then Ooomf), had burned through half of its earlier $500,000 in funding as it shifted its focus to the freelancer marketplace. The team went “super lean,” says Cho, and began connecting its creatives to temporary gigs using simple tools, like a Wufoo form and Mailchimp newsletter.

homepage-desktopThough there are several other freelancer marketplaces, including services like Elance (now merged with oDesk) or Freelancer.com, for instance, what makes Crew different is its high bar in vetting quality developers and designers. Currently, there are 350 creatives available through Crew, and Cho says they’re only accepting around 1 in 20 applicants.

“In order to be accepted, you must have a personal portfolio, three examples of live projects, and what you’ve done on each project,” he explains. “For example, if you’re applying as a mobile developer or designer, you must have worked on an app that’s 4 stars or better and in the App Store.”

Mobile developers and designers are heavily requested on Crew, in fact, as around 60% of the projects on its site are mobile. Generally, these fall into two categories: those with websites who are trying to go mobile, and those with a native app on one platform who are trying to build for another (e.g. iOS app needing an Android version.)

In addition to vetting the talent, the projects themselves are vetted for quality, too, in order to make the line up of work appealing to the developers and designers using Crew. Today, the average project budget is about $8,000, which is around 10 times the size of many competitors, Cho claims. That’s because not only are businesses using the service paying higher for quality work, they’re also often longer-term projects – like building a mobile app from scratch – that can stretch out over a couple of months.

mikael-2Shortly after launching the marketplace last year, the team had around $120,000 worth of projects on its site, but as of today the company has matched over $3 million in paid projects. Now growing at 30% month-over-month, Crew has signed up developers and designers who have worked on apps like Path, Mailbox, and who have done work for Facebook and Google. On the customer side, companies like Eventbrite, IDEO and others the company can’t disclose due to NDA’s, have used its service to find talent.

The company takes a 15% fee to generate revenue, and of its approved projects on the site, around 50% of those are approved and filled right away.

Meanwhile, Crew has a member waiting list of around 4,000, but is waiting for there to be enough work in the pipeline to invite others in. Quality Android developers would probably have a good shot, though. “We’ve noticed it’s pretty hard to find the right fit sometimes – with Android, we’ve seen a lot in terms of both development and design,” says Cho.

Going forward, the new funding gives the company another 18 months in runway, and will allow it to double its team of 4 to 8. Crew’s next big focus will be on automating its matching technology – something which currently requires more of a human touch, but as its collection of data grows, could be done more algorithmically.

And yes, Crew will be going mobile itself, but likely not until year-end.