November 19, 2019

🎉 Freelancer Protocol is launching on PH (and why I'm pivoting away from what I was working on)

Elliot Seror @tollie93

2.5 months ago I announced the launch of Outcode on IH. The idea was to provide more reliability to an often savage freelancing process by having humans oversee projects. In practice, that meant that I would do some project management myself at first, ensuring budgets and deadlines were respected and that clients were happy.

I started generating revenues relatively quickly by matching non-tech people that wanted to build web apps and freelancers, and taking a 10-15% fee for it.

But three weeks ago, I had to acknowledge the obvious. While I was happy for the deals I had closed and for having given a few thousands worth of missions to several freelancers, the conversion rates were really poor. Out of thousands who had seen my landing page, the fact that I only ended up closing half a dozen clients showed that I was far far away from the product market fit I had wanted to attain.

However, I felt those month managing projects and talking to both sides of the freelancing table gave me a clear view on a few things:

  • Neither freelancers nor clients have any love for freelancing platforms. If they both find that it's fair to pay a fee for the service of matching them together for a little while, as time goes by it makes less and less sense to be charged 10+% by a third party that, to put it nicely, doesn't actively contribute to the success of the projects. So it's not rare they try to leave the platform and work directly with one another. If they didn't meet each other on to the platform, they definitely prefer working directly rather than onboard a platform for the features it offers.

  • But not being on those platforms also carries its share of inconvenience and risks. Counterparty risk (the freelancer doesn't deliver on time, or at all, client doesn't pay on time, or at all) is real. What's more the deal often isn't covered by even the most basic paperwork, like an invoice or contract, and payments have to be processed manually.

I started thinking a lot about how there should a framework enabling client and freelancers to engage in a standard deal outside traditional platforms. It could be a web app with some minimal abilities: in-app chat and file sharing, cash flow management using Stripe, and binding online contracts using e-signatures.

So that the transaction goes well, the money would be transferred to an escrow account at the beginning of a deal and the deal's finalisation (money against deliverable) would be conditioned to the client approving a demo (link or video) of the working code.

As you might have guessed, I spent the last 3 weeks building an MVP for the concept, that I now call Freelancer Protocol. The website is freelancerprotocol.com .

As an Indie Hacker, I hope you feel like this is something the world of freelancing needs. If that's the case, please upvote on PH ( https://www.producthunt.com/posts/freelancer-protocol ), create an account and send a milestone to a client if you're a freelancer, and feel free to reach out in the comments or to [email protected]!

Thanks a lot for reading me, and happy hacking 🔥🚀

  1. 1

    Very cool idea. I like the insight of separating the escrow / deal facilitation from the deal making / marketplace. How are you going about validating the hunger for this solution?

    1. 2

      you absolutely got the idea of separating the two but i find i have a hard time explaining that on my landing page or in person... i want to say something like "We don't match client and freelancer. We give those who already know each other a framework to engage in a standard deal" ... but let me know if you can think of a clearer way to rephrase! :)

      As to validating the hunger, I simply look at the conversion rate: right now about 9% of people who visit the page (they mostly come from HN where I imagine there's a high proportion of tech freelancers) create an account, which is not amazing but decent. I consider it validation enough to keep building and to try and turn signups into a first ongoing milestone.

      1. 2

        Maybe something like "We make life easy for freelancers and their clients, without the big percent fees."

        1. 2

          yeah this is much better, thank you !! will modify

  2. 1

    Love this idea!
    Hope you get traction soon for this, Elliot.
    Good luck.

    1. 1

      thanks for the good vibes !!