Leadership: Nathan Harris, co-founder and CEO; Saul Sutton, co-founder and COO
Headquarters: 1245 N. Water St., Milwaukee
What it Does: Freelancer management platform
Next goal: Launching version 2.0 of platform
In 2012, Nathan Harris launched a business as a marketing and logistics consultant, and short of capital to hire full-time employees, called upon freelancers to help him with the work.
Noting the difficulty of managing freelancers, in 2016 Harris teamed up with his brother Saul Sutton to develop a freelancer management system.
“I wanted to find a way to scale the model,” said Harris, 28, who also owns downtown Milwaukee bar and grill Ugly’s. “I used a lot of freelancers to build our products. I just developed a really strong understanding of these things over the years.”
The cloud-based system the brothers created, called Ease, helps businesses find and manage remote freelancers. The freelancers sign an independent contractor agreement with Ease.
“We sit with a company and understand exactly what their needs are and then from that consultation we’re able to discover what type of talent they need to meet their market objective,” Harris said. “We give them that flexibility in their staffing while also giving them access to talent outside of their geographic location.”
By using Ease, a company can go from managing 10 freelancers to communicating with just one person at Ease.
Harris cited the fact that by 2027, more than half of the U.S. workforce is expected to be freelancers and independent contractors, according to a survey from the Freelancers Union.
“The millennial generation doesn’t want to be working in a cubicle and they don’t want to be working at a job even five to 10 years,” Harris said.
Among the freelancer roles most in demand are digital marketers, growth strategists, content marketers and translators, he said.
Ease graduated in May from the gener8tor startup accelerator program. It now has more than 1,000 freelancers and more than 27 companies on board. The company has raised $500,000 to further its growth – $400,000 from Milwaukee private equity firm CSA Partners and $100,000 from gener8tor.
With the funding, Ease is working to launch version 2.0 of its software, automating both the freelancer and customer side of the onboarding process, while helping freelancers access benefits such as insurance and 401(k) accounts.
“We want to work with (organizations) like the Freelancers Union and insurance companies to create a benefits package to give freelancers access to the same lifestyle they would have if they had a full-time job,” Harris said.
Harris is projecting $800,000 in 2018 revenue, and plans to hire at least four more employees within the next year.