If Linkedin is for keeping tabs with professionals that you’ve worked with in the past, where do you find and connect with professionals that you want to work with in the future? In today’s fast-paced, nimble world, small companies often need to hire contractors to become better companies. Labor marketplaces, temp agencies and tapping your personal network can be exhausting. Solvate, a New York City based startup, has designed a smarter, more reliable platform for connecting talent with clients.
In 2008, Mike Paolucci founded Solvate while he was in the midst of building a new company and relying on remote workers. Now, three years later it is a strong community for independent professionals and the first place clients think to find them.
“I was customer number one at Solvate—I started with just two assistants who supported my other business operations while I was crossing the Atlantic and Mediterranean over 80 days on a small sailboat with a 56k sat phone. No one knew I was even out of the office and I was sure we were on to something that every business operator could use.”
-Solvate Founder Mike Paolucci
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
Solvate’s growing talent network includes 2,500 people with over 500 employable contractors in the creative services and about 300 engineers. In total, there are 6,000 services available on the site with an average hourly billing rate of $60.
Using the site is easy. Solvate’s Talent Guide provides custom recommendations for those looking to hire. In addition, Solvate’s talent search engine allows users to browse by different facets such as role, service, skill, expertise or hourly rate. Clients can also browse individual profiles, so it feels like you’re dealing with real people rather than anonymous bids.
“It’s like dating for companies and freelancers,” says Sam Bauch, an Account Manager at Solvate. “You have a profile just like you would on a dating site, so users can take a look, see what you’re into and what you do. We even pay for the first date. In fact, we pay all of our freelancers for their time so they can get to know the client and see if it’s as good a fit on paper as it is in real life.”
Becoming a part of Solvate’s talent network is no easy feat; currently, the acceptance rate is 20%. Solvate vets, interviews and then supports its talent in many ways, including sponsoring meetups for its members. All talent sign NDAs and non-competes.
“We’re constantly re-defining our lexicon. If someone designs and implements CSS sites, are they a designer or an engineer? When clients say, I need a website, we realize there are a lot of different things that could mean. We even see talent sign up as clients to make connections with other talent. It’s turning into an interesting, fluid ecosystem as opposed to a well defined one,” says Bauch.
As a company, Solvate is less than 20 full time employees. Bauch says, “We’re constantly using our own network. We believe that you can effectively use contract labor distributed in different locations to do great work. We hire all sorts of designers for collateral; we hire people to run our commission program. Additionally, we have people who aren’t necessarily in the public network but we engage with them as contractors and consultants.”
For clients seeking talent on Solvate, there are 3 payment plans:
Direct: (Free) This plan allows clients to interact with anyone on the network with a single user login. Solvate handles all payment and billing.
Ambassador: (First 30 days free, then $100/month) This level includes a dedicated talent guide or account manager and out-of-network support.
Enterprise Solution: (Custom) This level is for really big companies and includes multiple accounts with spending controls and supports integration with other HR systems.
“We often have clients coming from oDESK and Elance and we think there are a number of things we do differently that make us more attractive to work with. Solvate is a two-sided marketplace benefitting talent and clients equally,” says Bauch. The network is currently closed to U.S. based freelancers only. So, what does the talent have to say about Solvate? We asked.
“I love working with Solvate because they take care of all the business side of things for me: the accounting, the account management, and finding new clients. This allows me the time to get back to what I love most: design.”
-Designer Caroline Mundt
“Solvate has really helped take my business to a new level by connecting me with clients I would’ve never had the opportunity to work with before. Because of Solvate my clients range from small startups on the east coast to big time companies on the west coast.”
-Designer Filip Stoj
Need a website built? Need a polished social media plan? Or perhaps you’re a freelance copywriter? Check out Solvate.