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Growing a Virtual Assistant Marketplace to $9m/year

Learn how Nathan built his $9M/year virtual assistant business.

1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?

Hey, how’s it going? My name is Nathan Hirsch and I’m the CEO of FreeeUp. We’re a freelance marketplace that helps businesses save time and money while hiring online.

My business partner, Connor Gillivan, and I started and scaled our first eCommerce company together starting in 2009. Over the 6 years of running the business, we ran into many frustrations hiring eCommerce talent online from other platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. So much so that we decided to start our own platform to make it easier.

FreeeUp is different in that (1) we interview and vet thousands of freelancers every week then only allow the top 1% of applicants into the network (2) we provide outstanding customer support to all clients and freelancers (3) we have a no turnover guarantee that replaces freelancers immediately and covers replacement costs.

We’ve been in business since 2015 and have scaled to an internal team of 40+ located all over the world. There are over 2,000 virtual assistants, freelancers, and boutique agencies on the marketplace offering their services. And we’ve had over 15,000 businesses sign up to the platform.

2. How do you attract and retain your customers?

Since we started the business, we’ve been all about testing, measuring results, and moving forward with the winners.

The biggest winners that continue to drive growth for the business are our referral program, our appearances on business podcasts, our influencer relationships, and our strong organic traffic from search engines.

We’re always testing new marketing strategies and looking for new ways to engage potential customers and freelancers. It’s been a fun journey so far and we really spend time focusing on making sure that anyone that comes in has a great experience and knows that we’re available if they ever run into issues.

3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?

The biggest challenge that we’re still working to overcome today is the software experience. Neither me nor Connor are software developers. We work with an amazing part-time technical co-founder, Russell, and a strong team of web developers that we’ve put together over the years.

While it’s a challenge due to the endless amount of features that could be built for the experience, we’ve received priceless feedback from clients and freelancers alike throughout the entire process of building the business. We take all feedback extremely seriously and work hard to build the software for the users.

4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?

There’s been a lot that’s gone into the growth of FreeeUp. We started the business at an amazing time as the freelance economy and gig economy were really starting to boom and become more mainstream. In the 4 years since we started the company, businesses have become more and more open to hiring remotely and more and more professionals have decided that they want to freelance instead of work a normal 9 to 5 job. That’s definitely helped.

A habit that has helped us tremendously is our joint belief in perfecting something, creating a process for it, then delegating to other people. We learned this lesson from running our first business and it’s allowed us to keep our time focused on what adds most value to the business instead of being caught up in the nitty gritty. Every week, we’re looking at what’s on our plate and finding ways to pass it off to others. It’s a key mindset that’s allowed us to grow to this point.

5. What is your advice for those that are starting productized services?

Be a customer-centric company. Provide amazing support, ask for feedback, take real action, and keep customers updated on the progress of the company.

An amazing product will only get you so far. It’s the experience that you can create with the support that you give that will put you above the rest of your competition. People buy from people and you can really make a long lasting impact if you go the extra mile to show customers that you care and that you value customer service.

6. What are your plans for the future?

We’re gunning for $15 million in revenue for 2019. It’s been our goal since the beginning of the year and we’ve been working tirelessly to get there.

More importantly though, we’re staying focused on what makes us different and how we add most value to our customers. At the end of the day, we want to be a business that really helps people grow and makes online hiring simpler.

7. Where can we learn more about you?

You can learn more about FreeeUp at FreeeUp.com. And you can connect with me personally on Instagram (@realnatehirsch), through email at Nathan@FreeeUp.com, or on a personal phone call…you can find my calendar directly on the FreeeUp site.

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