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Outsourcing: Ian Ippolito, Founder and CEO of vWorker (Part 4)

Posted on Saturday, Mar 10th 2012

Sramana Mitra: On the service provider side, are these largely solo freelancers, or do you also have companies operating on your platform?

Ian Ippolito: They are both. Most of them in the United States are solo, although one of our largest ones is probably about 15 or 16 people. It’s called Gravity Jack. They’re about number two or number three in our ranking system. We rank all the different workers, and they’re two or three out of all 150,000. They are a larger company. But the majority of the people in the U.S. are solo people looking for extra work, or they’re in a situation where they don’t want to work a normal job, you know, go into the office, drive in and all that sort of thing. They want the flexibility and the freedom to choose their work. That’s usually what it is in the United States.

Overseas, it’s both, but it’s probably more like 60% are companies that have at least two or three people. Sometimes, they’re much larger.

SM: How many million-dollar freelancers have you created?

II: That’s a good question. I don’t know. I’ll have to get you that information. We did have one guy – maybe it was about a year or two ago – who became the CEO of Bloomberg Energy. The way he became the CEO of that is he started his own business on vWorker (it was called Rent-a-Coder at the time), hired a programmer and a few other people, and Bloomberg Energy loved it so much they bought it and made him the CEO. That was a $450 million acquisition. It was a huge one. We have a bunch of stories.

SM: How big is your company in terms of people?

II: There are 15 full-time employees here in the Tampa office, and then we have a slew of part-timers and remote workers. We hire people through the site itself. We’ve got marketers and programmers and graphic artists and stuff like that.

SM: How many freelancers do you think you’re using at any given time?

II: It’s an ad-hoc basis, so at any time it’s, like, hey design this logo. Do this; do that. I’ll guess maybe 15.

SM: It’s a great business model. With 15 full-time people, you’re generating $11 million in revenue. That’s a very high dollar value per person.

I talked to an entrepreneur who runs a site called FineArtAmerica.com.  They basically are an exchange for artists to sell their prints. When I spoke with them in 2010, they were at $1 million. Now, they are at $5 million, and they have only three people in the company.

II: He must do it all through the website, then.

SM: Entirely through the website. All the logistics are outsourced to a logistics firm. So, it’s just three employees doing $5 million a year in revenue. I love this kind of incredibly capital-efficient, highly profitable, sustainable company building model. I just love it.

II: Me, too. For us, we’ve been forced to grow organically, and it forces you to be very efficient. It forces you to refine your business model and make sure it works. You’re not just going to go out there and spray a bunch of money around and try a bunch of things and if a whole bunch of them fail, it’s no big deal. It forces you to think.

SM: You have to count every penny.

II: Yes, every penny. That’s awesome. That’s a great story.

SM: Well, I enjoyed talking to you, Ian. Thank you for taking the time.

II: Thank you.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Outsourcing: Ian Ippolito, Founder and CEO of vWorker
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This is a terrific story. A question/suggestion – I am a very big proponent of outsourcing, but being a non-computer savyy entrepreneur creating an internet startup, I don't really know what I need until I already need it (if then!). I hate that I don't know how to do core competency type mechanics such as emarketing, website mgt, lead management, etc, but I don't, and its a waste of my time to learn with such talented outsourcing available. It would be great for someone like Ian or Sramana to create a map of likely outsourcing requirements for people like me, with a time frame as to when the likely outsources would be needed, how much you should be paying, etc. This drives repeat business for outsourcers like vWorks and let's the entrepreneur pick from a menu for internet competencies and focus on what they do best – a partnership in essence.

jkp Monday, March 12, 2012 at 2:25 PM PT

Interesting idea, Joan. Will look into it.

Sramana Mitra Monday, March 12, 2012 at 2:29 PM PT

2001 Problem was converted into an opportunity. Interestingly Innovative! Once again internet technology proves that one can make good money, even by giving freebie platforms.

Am sure V worker shall keep innovating, to fight the upcoming competition threats……

H T Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 1:48 AM PT