So you’re starting a new company, have some big ideas and need to get them done yesterday? Elance is here to help! We caught up with one of our recent Startup Cloud winners, Neil Kelty of TutorCause, about the exciting new education and non-profit marketplace he's founded with former classmate Peter SerVaas, the prototype built by Elance contractor Promatics, and the plans for their $500 in prize winnings.
Hello Neil! Tell us about TutorCause and what it offers to students, tutors, and causes.
TutorCause allows causes, typically non-profits organizations, to leverage the intelligence and skills of their supporters by generating donations from a tutors' fees. These educational efforts provide more value to society than typical direct mail campaigns or street-based outreach efforts. The TutorCause platform provides an integrated, one-stop solution for a major gap in a multi-billion dollar market.
Tell us about your entrepreneurial past. Why is this the time to start your collective first company?
Peter and I spent the majority of our college careers leading and transforming the Indiana University Student Association. We expanded the organization from a small unproductive group of 15 students into a 140 professional and respected campus powerhouse capable of producing large scale campus projects valued at more than $1 million dollars and dislodging critical campus initiatives, including one issue that had been stalled for 39 years. We permanently altered the structure and role of student government at IU by instituting a project-based philosophy that continues beyond our tenure.
TutorCause grew out of that passion for improving the lives of students. We’d heard from hundreds of students about the scattered and ineffective market for tutoring on college campuses and we decided to fix it.
As the summer starts to wind down for many of us, we thought it would be exciting to discover where our global community spent time over the past few months. You could win a $50 Amazon gift cardjust by answering the following question:
Where has online work taken you this summer?
Did you take an Elance project with you on your travels? Tell us about how being an Elancer allowed you to get work done from anywhere in the world. Were you able to take a vacation this summer due to an improved work/life balance? Send us a photo of one of your sightseeing stops with a caption. We want to hear (and see) your stories! Ready to enter this month’s Elance Spotlight? Here are the details:
Send your photo, anecdote, YouTube link, etc. to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line:
Elance Spotlight - [your Elance username]
In the body of your email, include your:
City and country
Short description of whatever you're sharing about your summer!
Use your Twitter, Facebook, Digg, or any other social channel of your choice to share with the world! Post it on our Facebook Page or upload and tweet a link to @elance with hashtag #ElanceSpotlight.
We'll round up your submissions and share them in a future blog post.
We'll also select ten (10) winners at random to each receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card.
Submissions will be taken until Friday, September 30th at 5pm PT, and the winners will be announced the following week.
Limit one submission per unique Elance user.
Any submissions deemed offensive or inappropriate will be disqualified.
Good luck! We're looking forward to your summer stories!
In the second part of our interview with Turbine Founder Matthew Stibbe, we discuss the reach of his Elance usage—from Turbine to several other blog projects he manages, how he sees Elance playing a role in the future of startups, and his choice tips for managing online workers.
What do you feel are the strengths about Elance’s platform?
Initially the value of Elance is tapping into the inventory of talent but when you start using it, you see the management tools and the way in which it balances the relationship between supplier and employer with escrow. That’s a great feature that gives both parties the confidence to transact. That is one of the big challenges of cross border work.
Feedback is useful, especially since it is an incentive for the contractor to do a good job. Bad feedback means bad business and good contractors are very careful that they have happy customers.
For what projects are you currently using Elance?
On GolfHotelWhiskey.com nearly all the blog content is written by online workers. They scan the blogosphere for interesting things for pilots and then write articles on them. On another site of mine, BadLanguage.net, I write all the content, but I use Elancers to help me add unique functionality to the site, such as a ‘popular posts’ page which lists the top five posts in each category, much like Alltop.com.
With Turbine right now, almost all the work is done through Elance, including all web development, testing, and content writing. Our site launched about a month ago, with early functionality and 4 or 5 modules for things like time off management and expenses claims. The full-blown Turbine probably will have 20-25 modules altogether, so we have another year of innovation and development. It’s a constant process, but I’m able to manage it through Elance quite effectively.
In the first of a two-part Q&A, we speak with Matthew Stibbe, Founder of online office management software Turbine, about his journey starting Turbine after putting the idea on the shelf for years. Here we discuss Matthew's entrepreneurial past and then discover how Elance allowed him to go from an early vision to a growing company.
Greetings Matthew! Please tell us a little bit about your company Turbine.
Turbine lets businesses take care of routine paperwork more efficiently. People can do time off requests, expenses claims, purchase requests etc. anywhere, anytime online. Managers get instant reporting and best practice approval workflows. As we add more functions – appraisals, timesheets and invoicing are coming next – the system becomes ever more useful and efficient. Growing businesses need to spend their time on innovation, marketing, sales and customer service and we help them do that.
When and why did you see a need for an all-in-one administrative tool like Turbine?
Turbine grew out of my experience running a computer software company in the 90s. As we grew, we added all this paperwork – holiday forms, purchase requests, expenses etc. And we hired people to process all the paperwork. And set up an HR database to keep track of it all. The whole thing was time-consuming, inefficient and expensive. Little bits of paper cost big bucks in growing companies.
Entrepreneur Richard Wilson started using Elance over four years ago to help launch CEOTraining.com, and has since hired over 20 Elance professionals to complete projects for each of his businesses.
Recently, Richard (while in Singapore) put together a fantstic video on his site highlighting some of his best advice for entrepreneurs and small business owners using the Elance platform. We took the liberty of transcribing a few of Richard's tips—and are confident that you'll want to hear all of them in the video below!
Make sure you have examples of what you want done. When you give someone a project, make sure you show them the ideal outcome that you want at the end of the day.
Always have very focused projects. If you have four projects to get done, make those four different projects on Elance.com. Sure, you might award two of them to the same person, but chances are, if you post four different projects you're going to get people who apply for each of those, with very specific skills that match those projects very well.
Touch base weekly if you have a long-term project. If you don't touch base all of the time, sometimes people on Elance get distracted by new projects or their full-time jobs. Touch base with people weekly, and then they'll do a better job and more consistent work on your project.
If you haven't flipped through the photos yet, we've put them together in a Flickr slideshow below. Also, remember we also have a Flickr badge in the right sidebar of this page and the rest of the Elance Blog. Underneath the Blog Topics box, you should see a Flickr box with three thumbnail images—those are Elance users! Click on any of them to be taken to our Elance_Flickr page, and you can browse through all of our contest submissions!
With only one week left to submit your photos for our Elance Spotlight: View From Your Office contest, we wanted to point out the new Flickr badge in the right sidebar of this page and the rest of the Elance Blog. Underneath the Blog Topics box, you should see a Flickr box with three thumbnail images—those are Elance users! Click on any of them to be taken to our Elance_Flickr page, and you can browse through all of our contest submissions!
Want to enter this month’s contest? Here’s what you need to know:
Go to the place where you do your online work—it could be your kitchen, your home office, a park bench, a cafe, the beach, etc. Snap a photo of your view.
Make sure it's a .jpg file and no larger than 1 MB in size.
One sentence caption of what we're looking at (optional)
Announce it to the world! Use your Twitter, Facebook, Digg, or any other social channel of your choice to share your view with the world. Post it on our Facebook Page or upload and tweet @elance with hashtag #ElanceSpotlight.
We'll compile the photos and create a public album to share with the world! Check our weekly updates to make sure we've received your submission.
You’re a startup, have big ideas and need to get things done, right? We’re here to help! Tell us about your idea and which online hires could help you get results, and you’ll have a chance to win $500 in Elance services.
We spoke to our recent Startup Cloud winner, Jack Osborn of snapp, about the mobile application business he started with Tom McQuillen and Rob Humann, and the plans for their prize winnings.
Tell us about your business—what do you do, and what is the ultimate vision for your company?
We are a young team of high school friends from Melbourne, Australia with lots of great ideas! We have decided to strike out on our own and start a business. Unfortunately, we are all currently working full time to pay the bills, which makes it hard to find time to get together and work on our passion.
We build mobile applications for smartphones and tablets. We are specifically looking to target small businesses and help bring their operations into the 21st century through smartphone technology. We help them access a whole new market of tech-savvy customers and clients who have embraced applications wholeheartedly. People say “there should be an app for this” on a weekly basis and we decided that we needed to build a company to turn these concepts into reality.
What type of Elancer would you like to hire with your prize?
We are looking for an Elance coder and designer, who like us, is enthusiastic, passionate and possesses the skills necessary to turn our ideas into reality. Due to our time constraints, we are unable to develop entire applications ourselves, so Elance was the natural option for us. We hope to find someone who can work independently, communicate online and would like to develop a strong and lasting business relationship. We realize that Elance has an enormous pool of qualified talent at a competitive price, which gives us the confidence to put our trust in the online work movement.
We are hoping to hire someone who:
Can provide basic application design skills
Has exceptional programming experience
Demonstrates positive feedback and repeat work from previous clients
Can boast an impressive portfolio of Mobile related work
Should we find such a candidate we look forward to building a long-term relationship with them and Elance to implement our long list of ideas!
Father's Day is coming up this weekend, and what better than to showcase one of our many Elance fathers? Kevin Mills, parent of three and author of Baby Codes: 101 Winning Combinations to Help Your Baby Sleep, speaks on how he's used Elancers all over the world to go from an idea into a bestseller--and great resource for dads (and moms) everywhere.
Let’s be honest. When most of us buy a book, we see it for what it is: a book. The average reader would probably be astonished at all the intricate details that go into creating the final product they hold in their hands. Yet authors know all too well the importance of orchestrating the endless moving parts with adept skill. As author of the newly published book Baby Codes: 101 Winning Combinations to Help Your Baby Sleep, I want to give you a behind-the-scenes look at how this book became a reality and how Elance made it simple – every step of the way.
After I’d written half of the book last summer, I was wisely advised to work on the book proposal so I could start shopping Baby Codes around and garner some interest. After two self-help books and more sleepless nights than I could count (ironic, considering I was writing a book about sleep…), I realized I needed professional help. Posting the job on Elance produced immediate results, and to this day, I can’t thank Karenzo Media enough for putting together a powerful book proposal – and astutely pointing out that “101 Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep” is a subtitle, but not a catchy title.
As I finished the second half of the book, I started looking for a graphic designer who could design an appropriately eye-catching cover. KRS Design did just that, and I was extremely satisfied with the end results. Colorful, adorable, and (most importantly) legible from a distance, Baby Codes finally had the cover it deserved. What’s more, any time I had a nagging graphic question to ask Khrystyne after that, she would take time out of her busy schedule to patiently steer me in the right direction. (And it doesn’t hurt that she’s won numerous graphic design awards, either.)
Richard Wilson started using Elance to help launch CEOTraining.com, and has since hired over 20 Elance professionals to complete projects for his businesses. We discussed how he found his way as an entrepreneur and how he’s able to leverage online workers through Elance to help aspiring business owners and small business owners take their business to the next level.
I created the CEO Training.com Show to provide concise, practical, and valuable advice to business owners. Each CEO Training Show produced lasts less than 15 minutes and aims to provide north of $1,000 worth of business building advice based on my direct experience as a CEO.
What were the origins of CEOTraining.com?
Shortly after college, I was working in Boston and started writing a blog about living in in the city, taking courses at Harvard and working in the hedge fund industry. I wrote for fun just once a week, but after just 5-6 weeks I noticed that my blog readers only wanted to hear about my experience in the hedge fund industry. I then re-invested more time and started writing one short blog post each day on hedge funds, and started to generate revenue from advertisements. I left my job in 2007, built up my site and launched an investment training program. Before I knew it, I realized I was running my own business. After 2007 I wrote several books, came out with several business training programs, a marketing training membership website, and full day live workshops. We now run over 30 total products and services with the support of our team of 20+ professionals which include employees and Elance members.
How have you used Elance to hire professionals for your business?
I’ve hired over 20 professionals on Elance for my business over the past four years, and nearly half of them were involved in helping me launch CEOTraining.com. For all of the businesses I run now, I have four full-time employees and anywhere from 5-15 contractors working at any time. Even when I’m working internationally (I’m in Brazil now), the communication with my staff is easier with Elance than it was when I had full-time employees in Oregon.