Nathan Hirsch: “I Felt Limited In The Position And Wanted To Get Away From Everything That It Stood For”
Nate started FreeeUp in 2015 after spending over three years interviewing, hiring, and training remote workers. He decided that there must be a better way for eCommerce companies to hire remote workers without having to spend hours interviewing and finding the most reliable people. I spoke to Nathan about the experiences that lead him to developing his venture.
Q: What are some challenges you faced when developing your venture?
A. When initially developing FreeeUp, we went through a number of growing pains as we discovered what our true value add was. From our experience, we knew that there was a pain point in the eCommerce market for hiring reliable remote workers, but it took us a few months to arrive on exactly how we could add the most value. We approached the situation as we do with all new ventures…we offered a range of services through a minimum viable product and then we honed in on the most value-adding after hearing from our first customers. A second challenge that we encountered was setting up an efficient accounting and billing system. As a platform, FreeeUp handles all payments coming from clients and going to workers. In the beginning stages, we had to test different methods until we found the best possible solution for all parties. Third, we’ve had challenges throughout the first year of developing our internal software. As a non-technical founder, it becomes more difficult to find the best individual to lead up your software development. Through learning and mentorship, we have been able to reach a point where we will be making a big decision to take our software to the next level in early 2017.
Q: Was there any point when you thought it was over? That you were going to fail?
There have definitely been ups and downs throughout my experience running multiple online ventures. When certain workers decided to put in their two weeks during one of our busiest seasons, we were definitely devastated, but we didn’t allow it to completely break us. My co-founder, Connor Gillivan, and I have always had a positive attitude about events occurring for a reason and that we always have the power to overcome hardships with hard work and logical thinking. Because of that attitude, failure has never quite been an option.
Q: As an entrepreneur how important has flexibility been in developing your venture?
On a scale of 1 to 10, flexibility is a 10. Running a business, especially in its first year of existence, is a 24 hour a day job and you must be committed to solving every problem and pushing the company forward each day. With FreeeUp, we have a good share of international clients that are running their businesses on different time zones. In order to accommodate their needs, sticking to a normal 9 to 5 schedule was never an option. If a potential client can only talk at 9:30 pm, you have to make sacrifices to push your company forward.
Again, delegation sits high at a scale of 1 to 10 between a 9 and 10. When we were first developing FreeeUp, my business partner and I made sure to delegate the right work to each other to complement our strengths. As we have grown, we’ve made sure to keep our time focused on what is most important for the growth of the company. We now have over 10 internal assistants that handle everything from book keeping to social media. They work hundreds of hours each week running the operations of the company. We wouldn’t have been able to grow to the level we are at today without delegating work to them and trusting in their skills. My advice has always been to focus on what you are best at and delegate the rest to intelligent individuals you trust to handle that aspect of your business.
Q: What was was your spark, where did it come from?
I have always been an extremely motivated person and I live by the motto of “work hard, play hard.” Growing up, my parents didn’t care which direction I was headed as long as I gave it 100% at all time. I apply that same thought process to my life as an entrepreneur. In terms of imagination, I credit the spark to my experience and being in the right place at the right time. Before founding FreeeUp, I was running a multi-million dollar Amazon business where we were employing over 25 remote workers. As I went through the experience of recruiting, interviewing, and hiring, I was eager to know if there could be a better way. FreeeUp was an idea that sparked from that frustration I experienced as an eCommerce business owner.
From a young age, I have hated authority and working for other people. I have always wanted to be my own boss and make my own future. I knew that I would be miserable working a standard 9 to 5 job because of the limits that are placed upon you in many corporate environments. My inclination away from corporate America was reaffirmed when my parents forced me into taking a corporate job at a young age. I felt limited in the position and wanted to get away from everything that it stood for. Entrepreneurship was my gateway to making a greater impact through my own efforts and ideas. I think most entrepreneurs tend to have a bit of rebelliousness in them.
Friendship is a topic closely related to my life as an entrepreneur because I have been building eCommerce businesses with one of my best friends, Connor Gillivan, since we met in college over 5 years ago. Today, we run FreeeUp together and we do it effectively because we have always kept our friendship and our business relationship separate. When we first started working together, we made an agreement that all decisions made as business partners would be for the best possible interest of the company and that our friendship would not be impacted no matter what happened. We complement each other extremely well in terms of our business expertise and we work hard to keep our friendship as well in tact as our business partnership is. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely game if you aren’t working with someone that you can also have a friendship with.