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The internet-based-open-contractors marketplace

The internet has enabled many new innovative business models to flourish- fostering new developments through community sourcing, sharing, collaboration and solicited contributions. The contractor’s marketplace has emerged as a powerful platform to leverage the distributed team engagement model. It has provided a healthy ecosystem for freelance technology providers to sell their talent; and allowed businesses to benefit immensely from talent working from outside the boundaries of their organizational walls.

The first recognized contractor marketplace

In year 1998, Harvard Business Review published an article titled “The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy” and inspired by it, a year later, Elance launched itself using the term as their brand name.[1]  It was developed as a technology for supporting virtual work in an easy way. But as any online marketplace would, as it grows and develops into a large community with diverse users, it started facing its share of challenges. In the absence of strict curation, maintaining high standards of quality and authenticity became a challenge.

The freelancer’s marketplace as an industry is now amidst healthy competition with many portals such as oDesk, Guru, Staff.com, TopTal.com, vWorker and Freelancer.com offering such open platform environment that brings together technology talent and businesses or individuals seeking contractors.  

The challenge

An online contractor’s marketplace should not simply exists with the objective of bringing together a large number of organizations or individuals seeking services and an even larger number of contractors offering their services in an uncurated environment. A generally unvetted and uncurated ecosystem ultimately gets victimized by unfair price-wars; wherein low-quality service providers playing on rock-bottom pricing pollute the marketplace, depriving high-quality freelancers from getting adequate opportunities to provide high-quality service. In the absence of a vetting system and curation on a continual basis, a high-quality service provider has no way of distinguishing themselves for their superior skills from a low-skilled provider playing a low-price game. Invariably, the entire ecosystem begins to deteriorate. In many cases, each party is having to accept “good enough” because of business necessity.[2]

The minute a posted assignment is accepted, the vendor providing the collaboration-platform is disengaged. So it is all down to the offeror and offeree to make careful choices. The hassle of finding one qualified contractor out of a few dozen who would respond within an hour of you having posted your job is discouraging enough. The absence of quantitative, measurable statistics to determine overall success rate of jobs accomplished in an open contractor’s marketplace makes it even more challenging for users. Elance – a world-famous hub for small to mid-size technology projects – does not, in any place, publish overall success figures.

When two mutually consenting contracting parties with a genuine intent to do business enter into a transaction, they do not want to think about arbitration and grievance settlement in the event of an undesirable outcome. They both, ofcourse, want good results, and possibly, repeat business. So to help both parties avoid undesired dissatisfaction, transparency is paramount.  

The game-changer

The core objective of Prospus tech marketplace is to bring collaboration best-practices for startup and small businesses for helping them in transitioning into sustainable mid-size businesses. In an open contractors technology marketplace, the defining variable of success should be “project delivery”, however currently it is conspicuously absent from the standard dialogue between technology contractors and clients. So Prospus will create a community of elite, curated contractors who are success-minded. A community that not only publishes success figures, but embraces them in interesting ways that, again, are currently conspicuously absent from the marketplace.

How this will change things

In Prospus tech marketplace, we bring a community of technology contractors which is built upon a sustainable and reliable process for providing transparency and collaboration guidelines. This ensures that the results of all engagements are highly optimized.

The overall success of an open collaborative marketplace is about the platform provider’s involvement as success liaisons between clients and contractors. Investors need transparency on where their money is going, and clients need assistance. They need an advocate protecting their interests. Contractors need help identifying predatory clients, of which there are plenty. So we get involved, establish a collaboration framework, and monitor the signals – adding the human angle.

Citations

  1. Wikipedia: “Elance” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elance, Accesed April 23rd, 2015
  2. launchastartup.com, “oDesk vs Elance: Why It’s a Battle YOU Won’t Win” http://launchastartup.com/odesk-vs-elance/

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