Collective launches a SaaS marketplace for freelancer teams – TechCrunch
Freelancers who work well in teams are the goal of Collective, a French startup that is today launching a software-as-a-service marketplace. (Not to be confused with Collective, a US-based startup that offers back-office tools for self-employed people running a business-of-one.)
Collective (the French edition of ‘Teams’) is co-founded by Jean de Rauglaudre and Vianney de Drouas and backed by SaaS-focused startup studio / venture builder eFounders, which covers the cost for the first 18 months (how much the investment depends on) from that, but usually costs at least a few thousand euros.)
“As a former freelancer, I was really drawn to this new way of working,” explains de Rauglaudre, explaining why Collective focuses on “independent partners who combine through mutual skills, networks and working methods to become faster, think bigger and find more meaning” as he puts it.
The startup refers to remarkable collectives that have emerged in recent years – such as ProductLed.Org and K.nackcollective.com in the US and Mozza.io, Alasta.io and Lookoom.co in France as feeding the idea.
It is argued that the indie “collectives” The phenomenon was only accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. Companies facing greater uncertainty are looking for more resilient and flexible options.
The two founders worked with eFounders to refine their young idea. “We understand that collective is the ultimate next step in this market. However, we found that these days these forms are not scalable (due to so many administrative issues), do not shine (because they do not thrive under a standardized reality), and work on their own (while solo freelancers have many tools and benefit from a legal existence, collectives are still undeserved). That’s why we imagined a collective! “De Rauglaudre tells TechCrunch.
For teams of skilled indie workers, the lure of Collective is a promise that it combines the benefits of working in an agency – as the SaaS platform automates a number of back-office functions like proposals, invoices, contracts, and payments – with the Flexibility from Still to be freelance and thus be able to select projects and customers.
“Full” back office is de Rauglaudre’s promise. (Which – yes – includes prosecuting customers for late / unpaid invoices. When we checked this detail, he called the service “a perfect combination of flexibility (in terms of collective models) and security (in terms of our back office)” Late payments for freelancers are, of course, a notorious pain point that other startups have targeted over the years. However, Collective comes with the full back office package.)
In addition, Collective provides freelance teams with market visibility – helping with the customer pipeline.
At that point, it was launched for a month. During this time 18 collectives were formed on the market, including a total of more than 150 freelancers.
Early collectives who are active in their market offer “diverse” know-how – from software development to design, product management to growth – and are already working with five companies. Collective also says it is speaking to 80+ companies as it begins its push to scale.
“We didn’t expect such a high level of interest in such a short period of time, from both independent and corporate groups,” added de Rauglaudre in a statement. “This confirms our initial realization: that people and companies are looking for more flexible working methods and that we can achieve higher goals by joining forces. What we are seeing is the beginning of the teamwork revolution. “
“While solo freelancers benefit from a legal existence and have special platforms, collectives are still underserved,” said Thibaud Elziere, co-founder of eFounders, in another supportive statement. “They all work under different legal structures and have trouble finding work because they don’t have the right tools. Collective aims to become the go-to place to help collectives exist, find work and scale. “
Regarding the underlying trends that Collective wants to leverage, de Rauglaudre points out that the rates of independent work have skyrocketed (over 150%) over the past decade.
As they investigated further, they noticed that more and more freelancers are working together in various forms – suggesting that around a fifth of independents “work consciously as a collective or not”.
“We estimate that +10 million freelancers worldwide join together to form collectives, but with very different forms (structured or not). They want to band together to increase their income (competing with agencies rather than freelancers) while improving their mode of working (no longer alone), ”he suggests.
When it comes to the target sectors / skills the market should serve (and serve), it doesn’t believe there is a single template – but Collective focuses development (on the supply side of the “collectives”) on design, product and technology first , Data and growth marketing; and (on the customer demand side) at large scale ups and tech companies.
The business model in this phase provides for a premium (5% -15%) on the customer side. The lower fee will be charged if the platform is not available to customers. while the higher number is, if it is, per de Rauglaudre.
Once all the bells and whistles with the SaaS are done – in about another month – he says, it will also start charging a monthly fee on the collective side.
Given the branding conflict with the SF-based back office startup Collective, the French team may want to take the time to think about a name change – maybe ‘Collectif’ could work? 🙃