What inspired the start of Boonle?
When I first started freelancing, I really had no idea what I was doing. I had just decided to leave corporate life – I was in the sales & marketing space for about 8 years working for both larger corporations and startup companies – and during that time, I had dabbled with putting websites together for side businesses as well as for some friends. I figured that with my sales experience along with the little experience that I had in web design, I’d hit the ground running freelancing. But what I found out quickly was that without having a strong portfolio to back me up during sales presentations, I wasn’t able to land clients in the way that I had anticipated. They wanted validation of work that I completed to show that “hey, I’m the right person to help with this project” – and I wasn’t able to do that. So what I started doing was offering my services for less-than market rate, sometimes even free, to family, friends, and nonprofits in order to fine tune my skill set and build a solid portfolio. It was only then that I was able to close deals on a consistent basis. Fast forward a couple of years and I began to think about the process that I went through to become an accomplished freelancer and figured that others would face the same challenge that I did. That’s what led to the concept that is now Boonle.
What is Boonle?
Boonle is an online platform that connects US-based college students with businesses seeking to outsource design-related projects. Boonle helps students build their portfolios and gain credible experience through real world projects, all while providing businesses an opportunity to receive quality work, that fits within their creative scope and budget.
What is the problem being solved?
Well, the problem is actually two-sided. There’s a freelancer issue and a customer issue.
The Freelancer issue is that in the United States alone, nearly 50% of the workforce is expected to freelance in some capacity by the year 2020 – that’s a 15% increase over the next few years. Even more specifically, in relation to design work, we expect to see increases of over 2% annual growth over each of the next 5 years. This is a dramatic rise in the number of freelancers entering the industry, and current freelance platforms are becoming extremely saturated, mostly with cheap, overseas talent. So, finding work is now one of the top barriers to doing more work for freelancers based here in the United States.
Now, on the flip side, more businesses and advertising agencies are outsourcing their design needs. However… outsourcing has steadily shifted to overseas talent, and that’s mainly due to consistent lower price points, even though hiring overseas talent has its downfalls – such as dramatic time zone differences, language barriers, cultural contrasts in design, and the removed potential to bring a worker “in house” for either meetings or future employment.
How do you solve these problems?
Boonle solves a need for both user-types. For students looking to freelance, we provide an opportunity to not “get lost in the crowd” as with other freelancing platforms that are flooded with overseas, low-cost providers. Students are able to compete with other students – typically with similar experience – leveling the playing field and opening opportunity for real work to help build strong portfolios. For businesses and agencies, we’re bringing outsourced work back to the US. Both businesses and agencies alone spend nearly $6 billion per year on design-related work, which is often outsourced to overseas designers based on price alone, even though the downfalls of time difference, language barriers, and cultural contrasts, do exist. Boonle provides an outlet that eliminates the need for international providers by removing foreign barriers while keeping cost at bay.
How does Boonle work?
Simply. A client outlines the details of their project and sets their own budget. (we will make price suggestions for those who need it). Students are notified of the project and can apply to work on it. Clients can also invite specific students to apply. Conversations can take place and once a both parties agree that they are a good fit, work can begin.
Both student and client accounts on Boonle are free. Boonle simply takes a percentage of each transaction that is made.
What is Boonle’s long term goal?
We’re building a secondary section of Boonle that students can graduate to, ultimately allowing them to go out on their own and land larger projects that will help them sustain a full time income. We’re both excited and passionate about being seen as the freelance launch pad where students can get started and clients can outsource domestically.