Elance Blog

Baby Boomer Turns Life Experiences Into Full-Time Freelancing Career

52-year old Niel Leon, a full-time Product Development consultant on Elance (Elance username: ConnectUTS), leveraged his lifetime of work experience to start his freelancing business.

To understand where Niel is today, with a successful freelancing business that specializes in electro-mechanical product development, you have to learn about his diverse work background.

Niel's engineering career started over 30 years ago when he worked at NASA as a co-op student in Huntsville, Alabama. He then went on to several positions as a mechanical and production engineer for Fortune 500 manufacturing firms, including Exxon and Dupont.  But after more than a decade of work experience and two unplanned layoffs, Niel decided to take his career into his own hands.

"At 37, I had over 15 years of experience in a wide variety of companies designing equipment as diverse as hardware for use by astronauts, sonar buoys and military decoys, office automation equipment (the first word processing typewriter), large industrial equipment and chemical sensors for military," said Niel.

"When the bottom fell out of the local engineering market, I couldn't find full-time employment.  That's when I ventured off on my own and founded my first consulting company, Creative Design Services," said Niel. 

While the business succeeded, Niel took another career detour when his principal client asked him to leave consulting and join a company full-time as chief engineer.  Niel spent the next five years working full-time at one firm where he developed needle-free injection systems for veterinary and human applications.

Midway through his employment at the new firm, however, Niel started to get the freelancing itch again.  He started his second freelancing business, while still employed full-time and worked nights and weekends to get it going. 

And to jumpstart the growth of the new freelancing business, Unicorn Technical Services (UTS), Niel joined Elance.  But he cautions that UTS wasn't a homerun from the beginning because it took time to build up his clientele.  "Even though I had over 10 years of experience with providing my services via early versions of the internet (working with clients and associates) before joining Elance, my first project was not awarded until I had been on Elance for 3 months."

"Currently, I get one-half of my business through Elance," says Niel.  "Of all the outsourcing and networking sites, Elance is easily our most successful source of new jobs."  Niel has slowly built his reputation on Elance and is now one of the top Engineering & Manufacturing providers.


Hi Niel. Great career.


I'm from a different challenge facing profession. Niel is go great that I hardly finds word to express him except - "Inspiration".

Congratulations on the sucessful career and profile piece in the Elance blog, Niel.