Why I founded Aquifer
In 2010, I left my full time job and set out to work for myself. As an independent strategy consultant, I loved the freedom and flexibility of working when I wanted, where I wanted, on matters that were interesting to me.
The switch to independent work was not without downsides. I now had to personally pay out-of-pocket for health insurance, and forego income on vacation and sick days. For me, the benefits of independent work far outweighed those costs. But independent workers, entrepreneurs and freelancers should not have to choose between flexibility and financial security.
Technology is changing work
Over 53 million Americans are freelancers, and entrepreneurship is more popular than ever. It is a wonderful thing to have freedom to set your schedule, define your challenges, and make the most of your time. Like many others, I feel myself capable to set my own goals and hold myself accountable to them.
More and more, people are moving to independent work through the channel of technology. Uber alone provides work for around half a million people in the US , and it is exploding elsewhere too. I grew up in Mexico, and today the streets of Mexico City, famous for their green Volkswagen Beetles, are now more subtlety served by fleets of dark cars dispatched by the Uber app.
But what happens to the old social contract of job-related benefits when you are self-employed?
- Previously people had healthcare through their job. Now they must pay for insurance and medical expenses for themselves.
- Sick days are a thing of the past, and you must have cash on hand to cover the days you miss from your work.
- Vacation days are similarly not granted as a right of any employee. As a result, many people cannot afford to take time away from work to spend with loved ones or relaxing.
- Retirement benefits are also left to individuals to setup, fund and maintain. As a result, 41% of people over the age of 50 aren’t currently saving for retirement(as mentioned in this Wells Fargo study cited by the Huffington Post)
Furthermore, self-employment costs go far beyond what we typically consider “benefits.” Any business requires investments and encounters frequent expenses. For example, drivers on Uber or Lyft buy their own cars, pay for operating costs such as gas, handle any repairs, traffic tickets, and so on. Drivers are also exposed to other larger risks such as car accidents and major repairs. Without a larger company to absorb these costs, they must put their personal credit on the line to keep their business afloat.
We are creating solutions for on-demand professionals
I firmly believe technology and economy are tools to make human life better and easier. Money is not an end in itself, but a means to the good life. The latest developments in the economy have indeed created significant opportunity, but also many challenges. The task is not to ignore the problems and hope they disappear, but rather to consciously resolve them with the aim of making people’s lives better. Our purpose is to create the financial tools to tackle these problems, and make technology work for everyone.