With more and more skilled professionals quitting their eight-to-five jobs for more flexibility, the freelance movement is in full swing. Vasa Iamsuri and Apon Palanuwech couldn’t afford to miss out on this opportunity so they started Fastwork, an online job marketplace in Thailand.
The startup matches companies, mainly small and medium enterprises, with over 3,000 freelancers who are experts in 50 categories such as software development, design and illustration, content marketing, and video editing. But it takes the competition to another level.
Unlike other freelancing sites, Fastwork protects both sides of the marketplace, says Vasa. Freelancers never have to do “free work.” For as long as they complete their projects according to agreed requirements and on time, they will be compensated – no matter what, he notes.
Clients, on the other hand, are assured of a secure transaction. Not only does Fastwork vet the freelancers on its site through background checks and a rating system, it also provides escrow services, which hold the payment until the client marks the work as satisfactory.
“There are a few players in Thailand but no one would take the responsibility of withholding/escrowing the customer’s money until the freelancer delivers the work, or ensuring the quality of their freelancers. They think it’s too much of a hassle and when something goes wrong, they would be liable for it,” Vasa claims. “This leaves a bad taste for everyone who walks into this space. Fastwork is instilling trust back into the community.”
Asked how they’re competing with mature marketplaces such as Freelancer which may have the same safeguards in place, Vasa points out that “our strong and loyal relationships with local businesses and high numbers of ratings and reviews that our freelancers have stacked up” increase the barrier to entry for any international or local competitors.
Vasa and Apon came up with the idea in early 2015 after coming home to Thailand from New York, where they had previously set up a data science startup. They wanted to build a company in Thailand but didn’t have an idea yet so they decided to freelance in the meantime. It wasn’t a new thing for them. In New York, the duo worked as freelancers full time at some point, accepting jobs in design and tech.
“But we didn’t have any connections and we couldn’t find a job anywhere in Thailand – it was missing this space. That’s how the idea for Fastwork was born,” Vasa recalls.
Together with two other co-founders, Ben Vibhagool and Jerd Phichitkul, they launched the startup in December last year.
Fastwork earns by charging freelancers a transaction fee of nine to 17 percent in exchange for finding them customers.
The company has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from 500 TukTuks, the microfund created by 500 Startups for Thailand, and Dtac, a subsidiary of Thai telco Telenor. It’s among the 10 finalists in batch four of Dtac’s accelerator program.
Vasa refuses to disclose Fastwork’s revenue figure, but he says it grew 11 times in four months after entering Dtac’s bootcamp in May. The startup has so far generated US$300,000 in income for freelancers and this number is growing at 37 percent month-on-month, he adds. Fastwork recently rolled out an app version.
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Fastwork – freelance marketplace
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Fastwork – freelance marketplace