Why it took us a year to announce our funding round (& how we're turning Advisable upside down)

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I’ve always disliked fundraising announcements. They seemed self-indulgent & mostly pointless. For a startup, all that ultimately matters is users and users don’t really care about fundraising.

However, I did feel as though they were good for one thing: announcing crazy goals and giving some credibility to them.

When we raised money last year - while we’d been growing fast, had freelancers who’d earned millions on our platform, and many great customers - I felt that we didn’t have anything worth announcing.

In fact, rather than feeling like we had something worth telling the world about, I began to feel an undefinable sense of unease. Instead of doing the whole ‘everything has always been great and it’s only getting better’ thing that’s common to these kinds of announcements, I said I’d try to explain this unease, how we overcame it, and share our own crazy goal.

Working to build a freelance platform that makes sense for top talent

Most platforms say they’re for the ‘best' talent. However, how they treat the people on their platform tells you a lot more than what they say: does the best talent want to sift through hundreds of opportunities to find the one that’s right for them? Do they want to spend hours applying to projects for a small chance of getting an interview? Are they happy not knowing how much the hirer is paying the platform for their work?

From my perspective, the answers to all of these are obviously no, yet these are all practices common among platforms that claim to have the best talent.

I started Advisable because I wanted to build the kind of freelance platform that I’d want to work on. While we operated in fundamentally the same way as most talent marketplaces — with clients posting jobs and freelancers applying — everything we’d do would be optimised for the best talent. We’d work to get their success rate higher by only inviting people to projects that were relevant for them, we’d strive to operate with transparency and respect, and we’d only allow hirers who were willing to pay the talent appropriately.

I have to say, I was feeling pretty happy that we had made a lot of progress in this direction:

  • We were growing fast: we had 6 months of 29% MoM growth - the gold standard for a fast-growing B2B startup.
  • We had fantastic clients who were hiring time and time again, including some like Stack Overflow who’d hired 10 people.
  • We attracted many talented freelancers who collectively had made millions from our platform, some over $100,000.

Learning our approach wasn’t good enough for most of the best talent

With these winds in our sails, after our last round of funding, I started to look to the future. One thing I wanted to do was rebuild our website. I wanted to launch a beautiful website that drove home our mission of building a platform that put hirers and freelancers on equal footing. I had a pretty crazy concept of having both hirers and freelancers presented with equal weight on the landing screen:

A wireframe explaining the vision of the new website's hero section.

I knew that to pull off such a design challenge would require someone world-class - not just with an extraordinary design sense but someone who was willing to break some of the standard rules of web design too.

As I started my search, I noticed something - while I’d started my search on Advisable, when I was looking for the very best, my glance kept gravitating elsewhere. On some level, I knew that - in spite of our efforts - we were engaging in practices that would deter these people:

  • Sure, we made the process smooth and we did targeted invitations - but it still ended in failure >90% of the time - something many great freelancers wouldn’t put up with.
  • Sure, we tried to make all of our processes transparent but being transparent about rejection barely helps with the rejection
  • Sure, we had great clients - but these people wouldn’t jump through such hoops for the chance at working with someone - even a great client.

After some soul-searching, I realised that Advisable wouldn’t even have worked for me as a freelancer. While I’d have liked the idea, I just hate doing ‘work for work’ - something Advisable required a lot of.

In short, while we tried to optimise things and accommodate the best talent, we didn’t go far enough to make Advisable an overwhelmingly better experience than anything that existed.

This disheartening realisation along with the post-COVID drop in growth led me to start to question things.

Discovering a world-class designer for our website, alongside a new approach!

As I searched for a designer for our website, I stumbled upon a product called Cruuunchify. It felt like something from Minority Report - futuristic and slick, yet clean, intuitive and easy to use.

I was in love with the thoughtfulness & care that went into every detail of it and knew that whoever made this could help make our new website a reality. I dug around and found the designer: Joshua Oluwagbemiga, an incredible talent from Nigeria who had built this with some friends for fun.

Excited, I reached out to Josh, complimenting his work, while trying to explain what we wanted to achieve with our new website. We hopped on a call & dug into everything we wanted to achieve and he seemed stoked to help make it a reality!

As we started working together, our relationship was like few freelancer relationships I’d experienced: a true collaboration between Josh and our team - not us dictating to him how we should do this, but us working together and collaborating as peers.

Josh worked with us to design something incredible & collaborated with world-class Webflow specialist Sarkis Buniatyan to bring our design to life.

The design Josh created for us, paired with Sarkis' flawless implementation, ended up earning considerable praise from the design community, including winning the prestigious Awwwards Site of the Month award.

Turning Advisable upside-down: helping freelancers seamlessly build case studies of their best work to get hirers to apply to work with them

What happened with our relationship with Josh was simple: we had a goal that we wanted to reach, we searched for people who’d done similar things, found someone incredible and convinced them to work with us.

From Josh’s perspective, it was also simple: he made something brilliant, someone found him based on it, pitched to work with him, and they collaborated to create something great!

We began to wonder: why can’t this be the same for every freelancer relationship? Why can’t the hirer learn about all the different possibilities as they’re exploring an idea? Why can’t they understand how a freelancer works before speaking to them? Why can't they be the ones pitching the freelancer to work together based on this?

Over the past year, we've been building towards doing just this and changing how Advisable works from the ground up. For freelancers, the process is a lot more simple, with Advisable taking on most of the workload on their behalf, while our goal for hirers is to make the freelancer discovery process into a fun learning experience:

Announcing our raise of $3m (from a year ago...) to help the world’s most talented, ambitious people to work independently

With this, we feel we have something worth announcing, our new goal: to help the world’s most talented, ambitious people to do their best work independently.

We see a world where the Joshes of the world can work on the projects they're most passionate about, trust Advisable to help them tell the story of this work and broadcast it to the world while removing the barriers to them collaborating with new hirers.

We believe that people like Josh existing in every skill imaginable - these are people who pursue building Google Analytics or Tiktok Ads with as much thought, heart and love as Josh gives when crafting designs. Some of them are misfits who can’t fit into corporate hierarchies, some might be new parents who don’t want to return to the full-time world, while  others could be young senior leaders who want a challenge on the side of their VP job.

We’re building the platform to enable these people to…. platform for this people because we think that this can lead to more fulfilling, rewarding working like for these under-appreciated genuines.

We also believe that this future of work can unlock a huge productivity boom for hirers, allowing them to rapidly understand all the ways brilliant independent talent can help them achieve their goals, and execute far more efficiently by collaborating with this talent.

With our new product for hirers and freelancers, we’re taking a big step down this path and we’re excited to start to show the world.

However, we’re only getting started and we're announcing a $3m round of funding last year from Frontline Ventures, FJ Labs, TrueSight and some incredible angels including the founders/CEOS of great companies like Supercell, Pipedrive, and more.

Join us! We're looking for SaaS marketing-related beta testers and outstanding team-members

Right now, we’re looking for world-class talent with experience working in SaaS companies, and clients who are looking for this talent - in particular, those who are willing to provide open, candid feedback on their experience with our new approach. If this is you, you can sign up on our website here.

While we love working with incredible freelancers, we’re also always looking for talented individuals to join our team. While we don’t have specific roles right now, if you’re interested in helping build a startup that’s changing the way people work, email me with a quick introduction here.

Start collaborating with world-class peers.
Even if you're a freelancer looking for great projects, or a client searching for the right person, Advisable equips you with the right tools.