With $3,000,000 in Projects Completed, Will He Take Down Upwork and Toptal?

Connor Gillivan

In Episode #700, Nathan interviews Connor Gillivan. He’s a 27-year old serial entrepreneur and published author. He started his first company out of his college dorm room and built it to sell over $20M in products on Amazon.com. After he became an expert on hiring online, he co-founded FreeeUp, an online hiring marketplace focused on connecting the top 1% freelancers with business owners. He’s the author of Free Up Your Business: 50 Secrets to Bootstrap Million Dollar Companies.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Shoe Dog
  • What CEO do you follow? – Elon Musk
  • Favorite online tool? — Jira
  • How many hours of sleep do you get?— 5-6
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – “I wished I knew to stay focused on what I do best”

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:47 – Nathan introduces Connor to the show
  • 01:32 – Connor makes 20% to 30% of the gross margin of a product on Amazon
    • 01:38 – Net profits end up being from 5%-15%
  • 02:04 – It was 6 years ago when Connor started his business
  • 02:15 – Connor earned on the first year of the business
  • 02:51 – Connor has scaled up his first company
  • 03:00 – The company still operates with $1-2M in revenue per year
  • 03:08 – The team is composed of freelancers who are based around the world
  • 03:27 – The 3 founders, including Connor, are getting their pay quarterly
  • 03:40 – Connor now spends his time on his second business FreeeUp
  • 03:52 – Connor’s first company is Portlight
    • 04:05 – Average price point was $75-100
  • 04:25 – FreeeUp was launched in 2015
  • 04:29 – Connor and his co-founder learned about hiring freelancers through Odesk and Elance, which merged and is now called Upwork
  • 04:36 – They didn’t like the process of posting job ads and going through every applicant
  • 04:46 – FreeeUp has a better solution where the business owner doesn’t have to do the upfront work
  • 04:58 – FreeeUp finds the top 1% candidates for the business owners
  • 05:18 – Toptal is more focused on top developers and designers
  • 05:23 – FreeeUp’s freelancers are specialized on e-commerce business operations
    • 05:35 – There’s no upfront free
  • 05:43 – FreeeUp has a standard markup that they charge on their clients for hourly rates
  • 06:06 – The minimum charge is $2 and 20% for the higher price
  • 06:55 – There are over 500 freelancers on FreeeUp
  • 07:28 – FreeeUp’s system can measure the amount they’re paying their freelancers
  • 07:37 – The biggest metric is the hours billed to the client
  • 08:01 – Average billing per hour is $10
  • 08:18 – FreeeUp is keeping $60K-80K in revenue per month
  • 09:11 – FreeeUp has around 1500 signups on the platform
  • 09:16 – FreeeUp bills between 300-500 people who are utilizing their workers
  • 09:45 – 2000-2500 people have been billed since FreeeUp started
  • 09:58 – FreeeUp has a referral program where clients can refer other people who would want to use FreeeUp and they receive $0.50 for every hour that has been billed
  • 10:28 – FreeeUp is more hands on with their client
  • 10:56 – Most clients start slow and when they see FreeeUp’s benefits, they’ll use it more
  • 11:10 – Team size is 20-25 part-time people
  • 11:51 – Connor is currently in Orlando, FL
  • 12:11 – Both of Connor’s businesses are bootstrapped
  • 12:21 – Total transaction volume for 2016 is a bit over a million
  • 12:33 – 2016 average revenue
  • 12:44 – 2017 projected transaction volume is $3-4M
  • 13:20 – Connor puts his money back into his businesses to scale them
  • 13:47 – Connor splits the 20% from FreeeUp
  • 14:32 – Since April, FreeeUp has grown 1000%
  • 15:20 – FreeeUp started winning in the ecommerce industry
  • 15:58 – FreeeUp now offers digital marketing as well and try to find different areas that will interest more clients
  • 17:10 – The Famous Five

3 Key Points:

  1. There are more business owners relying on outsourcing for their needs and share with others just how beneficial outsourcing is.
  2. Ensure you have backup funds for your company.
  3. Focus on what you do best.

Resources Mentioned:

  • The Top Inbox – The site Nathan uses to schedule emails to be sent later, set reminders in inbox, track opens, and follow-up with email sequences
  • Klipfolio – Track your business performance across all departments for FREE
  • Hotjar – Nathan uses Hotjar to track what you’re doing on this site. He gets a video of each user visit like where they clicked and scrolled to make the site a better experience
  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Host Gator– The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible
  • Audible– Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives