Picture this: you're a potential founder with an amazing, this-is-it idea — but not an ounce of technical ability to see it play out. It's not at all uncommon, which is why one Austin startup is looking to help.
Founder and CEO Chase White launched Loom in 2016 to set up a "work-for-equity" platform between non-technical co-founders and programming freelancers.
“We started Loom with a pretty basic idea,” said White. “How can we help people that don’t know how to code kickstart their ideas into reality?”
Most startups seek out funding in exchange for equity from angel investors so that they can pay freelancers to build the product, he said.
But White, who has previously hired freelancers for startups he’s worked at, wanted to help entrepreneurs skip that angel round and offer equity or cash as compensation for freelance work.
On Loom’s network, entrepreneurs can share basic details about their projects, allowing freelancers to browse and place bids with equity and/or cash requests. When a project receives a bid, a thread for messaging between the entrepreneur and freelancer opens to further discuss details. The first five messages are free, and anything after requires a flat $99 freelancer connection fee.
On the freelancer's side, those looking for additional work can create a user profile, share examples of work and employment history and take a third-party skills test to prove their technical abilities. For freelancers, the platform is entirely free — a leading differentiator from other connection sites like Upwork, which can charge freelancers up to 20 percent of their fees.
“We’re very proud to say that within the first month of launch, we had thousands of entrepreneurs and freelancers sign up,” said White.
Some projects, White said, have yielded 10 to 15 equity bids after only 48 hours of going live on Loom.
White believes part of the popularity is due to a growing number of freelancers ditching the standard nine-to-five. Other factors include Loom’s selection of projects.
"We have interesting, compelling projects on the platform that get people excited about it, which goes hand in hand with working for equity,” said White. “It’s not for everyone. If you’re going to work for equity on a project, you need to believe in what you’re doing.”
Currently only open to web developers, White said they are looking to expand Loom's network to designers and other disciplines in the near future.
The Loom team consists of four full-time employees — is practicing what they preach with two part-time freelancers.
“It is a really unique, exciting time to be an entrepreneur in Austin. My personal goal is to create the next Kickstarter and have that be out of Austin,” said White. “We see ourselves in that same light. A big portion of what we do is a public benefit. It’s about supporting creatives and protecting freelancers, and being an advocate for creating quality products instead of this race to get funding.”
Image provided by Loom.