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Bootstrapping a Virtual Company to Scale: Lily Stoyanov, CEO of Transformify (Part 3)

Posted on Wednesday, May 6th 2020

Sramana Mitra: We are a completely remote company and we’ve been completely remote since 2010. When you started in 2016 as part of Virgin’s startup program, what were you going to do?

Lily Stoyanov: In 2016, we already had a product. We already had customers. 

Sramana Mitra: Let’s back up for a moment. What was the product and who were the customers?

Lily Stoyanov: Our first product was a marketplace. It was a knowledge-exchange marketplace or a freelance marketplace. 

Sramana Mitra: How is it different from Upwork?

Lily Stoyanov: First of all, Transformify is built around its own long-term arrangements. It’s not writing a blog post, or something that takes one or two hours.

Also our social angle leads us in a different way. We are approaching big businesses and asking them to create jobs for people who are at a disadvantage in one way or another. They are jobs that are for people in high unemployment areas. They are programs with NGOs even for people in conviction centers in Peru.

We don’t charge the independent contractors. Upwork and Fiverr focus on short-term assignments. Quality is not something that they necessarily take care of.

Sramana Mitra: We’ve been using teams that were hired from Upwork for 10 to 15 years. It’s not necessarily short-term assignments. Let me ask you something else. What kind of projects do your freelancers get put on? Maybe that’s where the differentiation lies.

Lily Stoyanov: We have SAP. We have Oracle implementation. We have CTOs that are taking care of companies like an interim CTO. We have advisors and management consultants. Of course, we have IT. We have those development teams. We do this as well.

The difference is the social angle. We don’t charge the freelancers. We normally work with organizations that are socially responsible. They are creating jobs with a mission. They’re not there to just save on cost. That’s the first product, which started in 2016 when we launched it for the first time.

Over time, because our customers were asking for more functionality or solutions, we slowly built an integrated HR suite. It is a single sign-on HR suite which comprises an applicant tracking system. We have a freelance platform to source freelance talent.

We also have freelance management software or contingent workforce management software. Contingent workforce management software is something that competes with SAP. We also in a way partner with them.

In terms of product functionality, it’s companies that already have a pool of contingent workers or freelancers to manage them, to assign projects to them, to have all the historical information about the projects they have worked on before, and to automate the entire billing and invoicing process.

It is much needed because not everyone is hiring all the time. Companies are building a pool of people and they want to give the same tasks to the same people because they already know the project. They already know the culture of the company. As an employer, you know what the quality of work is. You can trust it. We have this as well.

We have diversity hiring. Diversity hiring is rather unique. Most companies that are working in this space are doing consulting or workshops. We work with big companies. We work on understanding who are the people who benefit from the diversity recruitment attempt.

Then what is the marketing strategy and the PR strategy? We have our own media and our own work, which is super popular. We also syndicate with others to make sure that they have the right outreach.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Bootstrapping a Virtual Company to Scale: Lily Stoyanov, CEO of Transformify
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