CollabWORK is the first transparent gig marketplace to help creative and production professionals (producers, community managers, artists, animators, writers, editors, etc.) find legitimate, short-term jobs both in traditional media and web3. The media industry has long relied on word-of-mouth networks and platforms with unvetted talent to hire freelancers. Through Summer Delaney’s experiences in both media and web3, she is setting out to make the hiring process more seamless and efficient.
Summer is a former award-winning journalist and content strategist at CNN, Yahoo, and Tribune Media. With an idea for an EdTech startup, she left her career in media to join the startup track at Columbia Business School. About a year into her time at Columbia, she pivoted and decided to build CollabWORK to solve some of the hiring issues she encountered in her career. Through the Columbia Build Lab, Summer met Vaibhaw Shende, a machine learning engineer and master’s student. Vaibhaw is working to build CollabWORK’s underlying ML technology.
When Summer began working on her EdTech startup, she was strategizing how to develop the education content. She began exploring hiring freelancers and influencers for video production, and had a realization she had previously experienced in journalism: there is no place to source and find qualified, creative talent to fill one-off jobs or projects.
I realized the exact same problem exists in media hiring. At CNN, I would have five days' notice for a shoot and I would need to find a local photographer on the ground. Despite having a strong network, it was always a scramble to find good and reliable talent.
In the production industry, the most valuable resource is time. Gigs generally are scheduled with less than a week’s notice, causing people to turn to their existing networks and search through word-of-mouth channels (email, texting, posting on social media, etc.). This process is limited and inefficient and often results in failed searches – finding candidates that are too expensive, unavailable, or, because of the pandemic, no longer located in the city you are in.
Existing platforms do not serve the media use case. It is uncommon for creatives to use LinkedIn and the platform lacks supply. Searching through and vetting candidates on Fiverr or UpWork takes hours. Additionally, much of the talent on these platforms is overseas, which does not work for live shoots.
Finally, companies and creative clients have put a focus on having more representation on set. This problem still persists because the word-of-mouth hiring process relies on a small and exclusive pool of candidates. CollabWORK serves as a centralized platform that will make opportunities available to a large and diverse set of candidates.
CollabWORK helps both creative freelancers and media brands find short-term work and workers to collaborate and tell great stories. The platform has a database where people can post jobs, search for opportunities, screen and communicate with candidates, and hire the best talent. The platform eliminates the lengthy negotiation process by disclosing gig details (e.g., budget, COVID protocols, deliverable deadlines, etc.) in advance so that only candidates that match apply for the job. Additionally, candidates can create profiles to showcase their portfolio, highlight past clients and share their career aspirations for further professional development.
The platform also will benefit from unique market dynamics–the supply and demand sides are often the same person. For example, a production manager will search CollabWORK for available gigs such as booking their next commercial. Once they secure the commercial, they will return to CollabWORK to hire out their team of production assistants, hair and makeup artists, producers, and editors among others.
CollabWORK is launching its beta product this summer with a production professional organization to prove the MVP and prioritize new feature development.
While the company’s initial product is a marketplace serving production professionals, CollabWORK will expand and add features such as a social network, affinity groups, contract negotiation (legal, payments, etc.), and professional workshops and conferences. Additionally, CollabWORK aims to serve as the bridge and educate creatives about new opportunities and emerging industries where their skill set is in demand. Some future market opportunities include web3 communities and DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations), influencers, content licensing, and distribution.
Once the platform onboards more candidates, the team is focused on utilizing proprietary algorithms to recommend gigs, score candidates, and forecast industry trends. These insights are helpful for job posters to identify the best talent as well as job seekers to understand what skills and roles are in demand.
CollabWORK is seeking a $750K investment for 18 months of runway to:
Launch the first product
Expand product features
Build out product, engineering, and operations staff
Develop proprietary ML to match candidates to jobs
Expand sales and marketing