We’re excited and proud to announce the launch of Huddle today
Huddle makes it easier and more affordable for startups to plug into highly-skilled product and design teams. Founders tell us what they need, from help building a product or brand from scratch to relaunching with fresh designs and new growth strategy, and we match them with a hand-picked fractional team from our creator community. Our teams get work done through a series of hands-on, managed sprints that lighten the load for founders.
In private beta since September, we’ve been humbled by the energy surrounding our creator community and by the number of founders trusting us as a partner. We’re excited to open our doors to more founders and creators and share more broadly what Huddle is about.
Solving the startup talent problem
Over the past six years, I’ve spent a ton of time talking with early-stage founders about the problems they face — through my work at different startup studios, running an entrepreneur dinner series, and by working directly inside a few startups too. Founders often think they’re initial challenge is funding… but funding for what? The answer I’ve consistently come around to is talent, both for the founders I’ve worked with and for myself too.
Securing an experienced, hard-working team is still too hard for startups. Having funding from a prominent accelerator or VC doesn’t necessarily bridge the talent gap, and even excellent co-founders can’t handle everything themselves. The current landscape for finding fractional product and design talent is ill-equipped to meet the specific needs of startups:
- Freelance marketplaces are cost-effective but difficult to navigate and find top talent on. Often the work founders need help on isn’t their own forte, so scrolling through pages of profiles without bearings on what “good” really looks like is challenging.
- Agencies are great for certain work, but the best ones are too expensive for startups. They also aren’t typically run by startup folks, which means the unique considerations of early-stage companies can go missed and incentives can be misaligned.
- Insider referrals via VC platforms or other closed networks are high-trust and vetted talent, but obviously limited to highly-connected or funded startups. This isn’t always equitable or generative for newcomers and underrepresented founders.
These options all require hurdles to jump through and time spent in vain. All the while, founders are blocked from building the company. With Huddle, we’re making it frictionless for founders to uncover and team-up with some of the top designers available — many of which just so happen to be increasingly taking on freelance jobs and working from home.
The new home for creators
With more work going remote, the world’s most talented people have increased time and interest in freelancing. Some are taking on side-hustles while they work full-time or start something of their own, while others are full-time freelancing. This new class of workers is opting for freedom; in how they work, who they work with, and what they work on.
There’s currently no home for the modern-day worker and we’re creating it, providing a steady flow of interesting projects, member resources, back-office tools, business support, and most importantly, a community of people who work just like you. Huddle projects almost always require more than one freelancer, and teamwork is a core virtue of ours. Who said company culture, accountability, and peer support had to come with a W-2?
Aligning incentives and creating opportunity with sweat equity 💸
Finally, along with our beta launch, we’ve introduced a new way for startups to pay for their Huddle Team — sweat equity pricing. We’re giving founders unmatched access to expert builders, all with startup experience, without exhausting their most valuable resource — cash.
Our startup customers and freelance builders are equally excited about the move. Here are a few reasons we love the sweat equity agreement:
- Speed — Founders spend too much time navigating freelancer marketplaces and interviewing expensive agencies. We give founders access to the flexible talent needed to keep moving cost-effectively.
- Reduced paperwork — In the earliest stages, startups often haven’t yet created a mechanism to issue employee equity. The FAST agreement solves this for advisors but isn’t expansive enough for contract-based employees. Using the SAFE, we created a new deal that’s easy to understand, to account for, and minimizes negotiation and related paperwork.
- Aligned incentives — So far, we’ve invested ~$60k+ in sweat equity, allocating over half that sum to freelancers. Sweat equity ensures everyone has skin in the game. Founders know we’re in this for the long haul, while freelancers get to become sweat “investors” by doing what they love.
By removing the friction for capital-strapped founders to get work done and launch and for talented freelancers to consistently find interesting work and become angel investors, we hope to be unlocking a new class of company builders and investors.
Where we stand
Since launching our beta, we’ve passed on over $100k in value to our builders. What’s more, we’re starting to see the true compound interest of our platform unlocked through community — freelancers that are also founders, founders that have referred their freelancer friends, and we’ve even got investors in the group chiming in and advising on projects.
Huddle is the place entrepreneurial people of any style can explore being their own boss and pursue professional freedom. We’re proud to be building this kind of empowerment platform and so excited to keep going.