Elance Blog

Elancer Launches a New Business for 2009

Do you still dream of being your own boss and following your passion - despite the current economic environment? Jeff Novich, founder of VocabSushi, shares the story of how he launched his new business during one of the most uncertain economic times in U.S. history, and just in time for 2009.

Read on for Jeff’s story:

Before joining Elance, Jeff worked a variety of gigs as a writer, videographer, film producer and teacher in New York City. He even found work as a body double for Bobby Flay on the TV show, Iron Chef America.

“One of my many gigs was to tutor students in math and physics as well as the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT),” Jeff said. “While tutoring, I noticed that many of my students struggled with vocabulary.”

Frustrated with how inefficient the process of studying flash cards was (to make them, study them, and then memorize words), Jeff set out to invent an alternative way to learn vocabulary and during this process, he created his dream job.

The solution Jeff dreamed up was perfect: “I wanted to launch a website that helped students learn vocabulary through context – not memorization,” Jeff explained. “This is the way we learned to speak when we were children. Growing up, we listened to people around us and learned what words meant by how they were used in sentences.”

“The only problem with my idea was that I didn’t have the computer know-how to put things together,” Jeff said. “I actually know a lot about programming and I am familiar with database design, but I don’t know how to create a website and I have no design skills.”

As he set out to find a way to bring his idea to life, Jeff discovered Elance in a Business Week article where he read about Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg. “Kevin Rose had an idea and turned it into a million dollar company by using Elance. My reaction to the article was, ‘I can do that too – this is awesome!’”

And the rest, as they say, is history. VocabSushi, is now live, thanks to the help of Elance providers.

“Elance has been a godsend – I’ve been working with Elance provider, Adevox,” Jeff said. “They did a lot of complicated work and were extremely responsive. They completely renovated the site from scratch and quickly created a logo that people look at and say, ‘oh wow’.”

“My friends are all pretty amazed that I am actually hiring remote workers from around the world. It's something everyone reads about but few people have experience doing,” Jeff said. “The reality is that it's incredibly easy to do and you get tons of great work done quickly.”

What’s coming up next for Jeff? His next project will be to create a VocabSushi application for the iPhone – so keep an eye out for it.


I'm very excited about your news! I'm also a teacher and a new Elancer hoping to find succes as a freelance writer. Congratulations on your success.

Signed up...I'm in....beautiful looking site....and fun!

Elance is brilliant. Sadly, Adevox, the company mentioned here, is in big trouble for all sorts of scams. See www.SpeakUpNow.biz. Adevox has been deactivated from Elance. Let's hope Elance can keep an eye on them. They are likely to pop up again under a new name. The lesson for us Elancers is never release money from escrow until 100% of the job is complete.