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HomeVenture CapitalWhy we invested in Passionfruit | Playfair & firstminute

Why we invested in Passionfruit | Playfair & firstminute

TL;DR: Passionfruit’s distinctive, forward-looking founders are making freelance work not only a viable possibility, however a superior possibility for expert professionals. By constructing a particular platform for loyal Gen Z freelancers to work, study and earn, they’re fixing the expertise disaster for people and corporations alike, and constructing a category-defining enterprise in an enormous and rising market.

The way it began

I first met Raffi Salama whereas learning at Cambridge College after which met Issah Abdul-Moomin as Raffi’s cofounder in September 2021. It was very early days for Passionfruit, however even then, I used to be struck by the drive and foresight that radiated off these two founders as they mapped out the way to construct their imaginative and prescient of the way forward for freelance work.

After studying extra concerning the firm they wished to create, and seeing the uptake and natural development that they skilled in just some early months, we had been decided to steer their $700k pre-seed spherical in December 2021.

Seven months later, we’re delighted to be co-leading their oversubscribed $3.6m seed spherical ($4.3m complete), alongside firstminute Capital and a powerful line up of different buyers, together with FJ Labs, Portfolio Ventures, and the Atomico, Accel and Notion scout networks. Angels Mandeep Singh (Trouva), Xav Collins (Turo), and execs from Stripe, Airbnb and Workday have invested too.

Right here’s why we determined to again Passionfruit initially and are doubling down immediately.

The freelance market is huge and rising with the emergence of the Gen Z workforce

Within the US, the freelance market is price over $1tn yearly. That’s 5% of the US financial system. Within the UK, the mixed annual revenue of distant information employees is £162bn. Extremely expert freelancers now make up 49% of the self-employed financial system of two.2m employees.

Within the US, extra of Gen Z already work freelance than in conventional employment, freelancers are getting paid greater than regular employees, and freelancers’ attitudes have shifted to seeing freelance as an equal profession alternative.

It’s clear that this market is now coming into a second wave of development, pushed by key future of labor traits.

Macro and micro-influencers, from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who backs a 4 day week, to the 19 million weekly energetic servers on Discord, are encouraging an increasing number of white collar staff to wonder if the office-based 9 to five (or later) is absolutely their best choice. Even whether it is, they’re more and more open to freelancing on the facet for supplementary revenue.

However freelancing solely works for a number of

Regardless of this, freelancing is much from optimised. As Raffi and Issah found after they surveyed lots of of younger white collar professionals, it’s one thing that many dream about doing. Finally, nevertheless, they’re deterred by the monetary and emotional limitations of leaving the construction, security and camaraderie of a company job, the place their work, pay and growth is dealt with centrally.

New freelancers not often have pre-existing networks that assist them discover work, or help constructions that assist them upskill and navigate administrative duties. They spend not less than 45% of their time looking for new purchasers, managing administrative burdens and attempting to upskill. An annual research by the US Freelancers Union and Upwork discovered that 81% of freelancers discover freelance enterprise abilities are vital to their work and would love extra coaching.

Consequently, the general pool of high-quality expertise that’s accessible to companies is unnecessarily restricted.

The answer: A freelancing platform for Gen Z

Passionfruit transforms the day-to-day expertise of being a freelancer, finally turning into their digital dwelling to work, study and earn. Reasonably than looking round for work, planning funds in Excel and feeling remoted, freelancers — or “specialists” as they’re referred to as at Passionfruit — are despatched briefs tailor-made to their abilities and pursuits. They’ve insights into their annual earnings, and are a part of a neighborhood by means of peer-driven mentorship programmes and coaching.

Though different on-line platforms for freelancers exist, they have an inclination to give attention to the demand facet: the businesses who want a freelancer. By prioritising the specialists — a lot of whom haven’t freelanced earlier than, however are specialists of their discipline — and exhibiting them the incomes potential and freedom of freelancing, Passionfruit attracts solely the perfect expertise.

The early Passionfruit staff 🙌

The demand facet follows

This interprets into nice outcomes for purchasers. Portfolio corporations from 65 of the world’s high 100 VC companies at the moment are utilizing the platform, and 80% of shoppers come from referrals and phrase of mouth. Specialists are matched with 93% of jobs in below 72 hours, on a versatile month-to-month rolling foundation.

Advertising and marketing, which Passionfruit is specializing in initially, is at the moment structured round company fashions. However there’s a robust financial argument for dismantling the standard value constructions that include companies (e.g. fastened wage and workplace prices) in favour of a distributed, versatile mannequin. By slicing out the middlemen, the businesses pay much less for expertise, and the freelancers earn considerably extra. Win-win.

Corporations’ various to the company mannequin is to go on to a freelancer. However guaranteeing that the freelancer will produce high quality work is a serious problem, and the executive negotiation course of is a drain for each events. Passionfruit handles the entire administration and rate-setting, so freelancers and corporations can give attention to the work.

It ensures high quality by vetting specialists and solely accepting the highest 3%. In truth, this piece itself has been co-written with the superior Pascale Hughes, a content material author who was in a position to go freelance full time due to Passionfruit.

A brand-led imaginative and prescient and a give attention to neighborhood

Specialists profit from being a part of the Passionfruit neighborhood. There are upskilling alternatives, a rising information community and operational help on invoicing and admin giving all of them the advantages (profession growth, compensation and colleagues) of an company with not one of the drawbacks (forms, rigid hours and places, and poisonous working cultures).

This, and Passionfruit’s distinctive model identification — constructed with help from their glorious specialists — is a comparatively intangible however extremely highly effective, defensible asset.

One among Raffi and Issah’s core strengths is model and neighborhood constructing and we imagine that is key to the success of the enterprise.

Very smart, pushed, passionate founders

Raffi and Issah met on Sir Martin Sorrell’s extremely selective WPP Fellowship programme. Since graduating from Cambridge and Oxford respectively, they’ve constructed direct trade expertise and a deep ambition to construct a category-defining enterprise. Raffi turned a part of the launch staff of David Beckham and Softbank’s new MLS franchise Inter Miami, whereas Issah turned Company Growth Director at Group M, the world’s largest media shopping for enterprise.

Their expertise within the advertising trade and in companies offers us deep confidence of their understanding of the market and the issue they’re attempting to unravel. That is backed up by the in depth market analysis and product-market-fit work they’ve each led over the previous yr.

What comes subsequent

Passionfruit will proceed so as to add to the lots of of specialists and prospects from throughout the EU, UK and US that already use and love the platform. The plan is to develop the product providing and work with ever-larger companies throughout Europe and North America. Whereas the corporate’s preliminary focus has been advertising specialists, over time this can even increase into adjoining disciplines to satisfy buyer demand.

A private notice

My expertise working with Raffi and Issah over the previous seven months epitomises why I really like investing and dealing on the earliest pre-seed levels of startup constructing right here at Playfair. On a enterprise stage, discovering that delicate stability between setting clear macro-level strategic objectives and diving into the micro-level element is what the pre-seed stage is all about. The opposite half is all about folks: being shut sufficient as a founder-investor staff which you can brazenly and genuinely discuss concerning the inevitable points and anxieties of being a pre-seed founder is priceless. I additionally imagine it means you may clear up them twice as successfully.

The added bonus from a relationship the place as an investor you actually really feel a part of the staff is that when the corporate reaches the lofty milestones you set collectively, the celebration is that a lot sweeter and deeper. I can’t wait to see what heights these two distinctive founders will hit over the subsequent few years and I’m very fortunate to be a trusted a part of that journey.

L-R: Raffi, Henrik, Issah and Adriana celebrating the beginning of the subsequent chapter over dinner

. . .

For those who’re a startup, scale-up or enterprise on the lookout for high-quality, versatile advertising expertise, you may attain out to the Passionfruit staff straight right here:

For those who’re a founder on the very earliest levels of constructing your organization, I’d love to satisfy to debate and brainstorm your imaginative and prescient for the world. Yow will discover me on LinkedIn right here or pitch the broader staff at Playfair right here.

You possibly can comply with the Playfair staff on LinkedIn, Twitter, Forbes, Vimeo and right here on Medium.



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