As with many entrepreneurs, Sydney native Matt Barrie started his business to answer a need: his own. He had wanted his relatives and friends to simply fill spreadsheets with data for an online directory he was building, and was prepared to pay 2 Australian dollars (about P90) for each entry of a thousand-entry-plus data sheet.
That would have been worth a few thousand dollars of work for Barrie’s pals, but he says it was “so frustrating trying to get them to do the job” that he turned to the Internet for help. When he came across the site getafreelancer.com and posted his data-entry job ad there, within three hours 74 offers flooded his e-mail to do the work for as little as 100 Aussie dollars (P4,400)—and Barrie knew he had stumbled onto a gold mine.
The spreadsheet “was done perfectly, done in three days, and I was blown away,” says Barrie. “I liked it so much I actually bought the entire site.” From there he bought 10 other companies with identical concepts, bought domain names, and “basically rolled the whole bunch” into Freelancer.com—touted as the world’s largest outsourcing and crowd-sourcing marketplace for small businesses.
With over 2.8 million unique users finishing more than 1.2 million projects worth about US$101 million (P4.3 billion), Freelancer.com is growing at a terrific pace. The site has gone from among the top 5,000 websites worldwide to the top 300.
Barrie recently introduced its regional website, Freelancer.ph, and for good reason: over half of Freelancer.com’s employees are Filipinos, and occupy an office in Makati City bigger than the company headquarters in Sydney.
“The Internet is breaking down business barriers. It allows the entrepreneur or the small-business owner to hire a global workforce to do anything I can think of,” Barrie says. “I can now turn a spark of an idea into reality just through a website. It’s very empowering.