Much more than a listings site, the Israel-based DoNanza provides freelancers with a platform for managing a business and building a reputation.
Think of it as a freelancers union, even if it is a business. Or think of it as a global marketplace where freelancers find jobs, share skills and earn points and credibility. The young Israeli company DoNanza — founded in 2008 — hopes to get freelance workers from any profession up and working, which is good news in a globally depressed economy.
Whether you are a writer, designer, programmer or plumber, you may be among some 25 percent of all Americans — and in fact people in the world community — who are freelancers, says DoNanza CEO and co-founder Liran Kotzer.
His eight-person company, funded by Israeli high-tech guru Yossi Vardi, Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors and private investors, taps into this relatively unexplored market. Because, despite hundreds of crowd-sourcing sites online, no one site has become a successful destination portal for freelancers.
DoNanza starts with the obvious work-from-home jobs offered online at thousands of websites, many of them for web content writers. These jobs are aggregated and filtered to help would-be writers access the 100,000 opportunities DoNanza posts each month.
But this Kayak-based approach (Kayak.com is a portal for finding cheap flights through site comparison) is just one of the applications that has so far attracted 300,000 DoNanza subscribers, mostly from the United States and India.
“DoNanza will give you a platform where you can manage your entire business in one place,” Kotzer tells ISRAEL21c. “We offer very powerful design tools to create a customized homepage dedicated for freelancers so they can do two major things.”
What are those things? Advertise services and build a reputation. Potential employers can follow aggregated online activities and conversations in order to evaluate a freelancer’s professionalism, he says.
Home of the freelancer
“We aim to be the home of the freelancer, not just job searches,” says Kotzer.
And it’s not only for plumbers, accountants or writers — it’s for any professional who needs a promotional tool, including musicians.
The MySpace days are virtually over, and Facebook is very limited for promotion in terms of advertisement placement, maneuverability and overall control. Hosting companies like Mad Dog in the United States offer website building packages, but the tools are often outdated and complicated.
DoNanza aims for a rub-my-back, I’ll-rub-yours kind of experience, where freelancers who give services in kind will get credits for services of another nature. For instance, writers can get design help and programmers can find a plumber.
“Forty percent of what you are seeing on the DoNanza site was done by the global community of freelancers,” says Kotzer. “We really believe that this is the new way that companies should work. If we have programmers — they’ll have a monthly budget to work with the global community of freelancers to promote [their own] tasks — eventually everyone will have budget to work with the global community.”
Lowering the barrier
Many of the writing jobs listed online offer low compensation, acknowledges Kotzer, who at the ripe young age of 33 has 15 years of software development behind him, starting in a unit of the Israel Defense Forces. That is why the site provides a possibility to work your way up by gaining a good reputation.
“Freelancers should treat this arena of the marketplace like Groupon — sometimes it is good for you to start a project with low pay but by doing so, you get an option to display your potential with buyers,” says Kotzer. “After [the buyer] is impressed with your capabilities, you can increase the [rate] you are working at. Most will accept this term before you start working.”
Income will be generated for the site, he hopes, by way of an application store. DoNanza will sell invoicing, writing and premium website management tools. DoNanza also plans to build its own apps.
Despite all the online and electronic tools available, “The barrier to become a freelancer very high,” Kozter acknowledges. DoNanza is geared to helping you lower that barrier so you can write, design and even “plumb” around it.