Whether or not you’re engaged on one thing new in accordance with your Twitter bio, or self-employed, in accordance with your LinkedIn bio, founder Ben Huffman thinks his platform, Contra, can be one of the simplest ways for unbiased employees to clarify and monetize what they’re engaged on.
Contra is a platform that desires professionals to create profiles that present project-based identities, versus a role-based identification that one would present on LinkedIn. It’s been constructed for what Huffman thinks is the long run: digital data employees, a time period he makes use of to explain unbiased tech employees who freelance for various corporations or gigs.
The early adopters are unbiased employees who wish to work or advise for a product workforce.
“So you may take into consideration any sort of modern-day product workforce consisting of like a designer, an engineer, a PM, perhaps a author, or perhaps another person distributing content material. There’s a excessive diploma of variability amongst these consumer varieties,” he mentioned.
Customers would showcase the instruments they use, initiatives they’ve led and initiatives they’ve pushed as a substitute of merely writing “Former Stripe Engineer” and calling it a day.
“What you don’t know is what issues they solved at Stripe,” Huffman defined, and Contra needs to offer customers house to clarify that.
A Contra profile seems to be like a storefront for an unbiased creators’ enterprise. The very first thing you will note is challenge expertise, with the choice to toggle between companies at the moment obtainable on the market, suggestions from the referral community and, lastly, the About web page.
A aim of Contra’s, per Huffman, is to assist unbiased employees create high-signal referral networks to allow them to land new alternatives and gigs. Every time a consumer posts a brand new challenge expertise to their resume, they will add who they labored with as a collaborator.
It’s totally different from LinkedIn, the place you may add anybody you meet and so they grow to be a “connection.” Contra requires you to have work expertise along with your community, making the referral community high-signal. Contra positions referrals high-up on profiles, paying homage to the MySpace Prime 10.
Referrals as a core mechanism to get jobs might disproportionately harm Black and brown founders, who’ve been not noted of networks. However Huffman says that Contra doesn’t solely depend on referrals, it additionally helps place somebody as greater than their resume.
“Most resumes are filtered out by AI right now and have traditionally deprived BPOC candidates,” he mentioned. “With a challenge focus as a substitute of roles and training credential-focus on the identification, we assist undiscovered expertise get forward.”
Huffman, who skilled resume bias first-hand as a school dropout with no-credentials from a rural space, thinks that his software can fight bias in an efficient manner. The most effective-case situation could be if Contra might assist a gifted designer primarily based in Minneapolis get a possibility in a metropolis like San Francisco or New York by showcasing their work.
However Contra has ambition to be extra than simply the newest startup to goal at LinkedIn, Huffman tells TechCrunch. Past being an expert community, it needs to even be a spot the place unbiased employees can earn cash for his or her companies and get inbound prospects. He describes Contra as a LinkedIn meets Shopify for unbiased employees.
In different phrases, Contra is a profile that unbiased employees can construct after which monetize off of, in addition to monitor engagement on how sure companies of theirs may be in additional demand than others.
“We’re making an attempt to allow individuals to monetize the worth they create, versus the time they spend in locations,” says Huffman. The aim right here is to “allow individuals to construct these identities, and provides them infrastructure to achieve success as an unbiased employee. Contra integrates with Stripe to carry on funds infrastructure, letting employees truly promote their companies on the platform.
From an unbiased employee’s perspective, the inner view gives analytics to grasp what the general public is on their profile, from what companies are most in demand to what initiatives get essentially the most consideration. The analytics, that are non-public to everybody besides the consumer, additionally helps employees perceive what the conversion charge is as soon as individuals come to their platform.
It’s free to earn cash and a profile on Contra, which differentiates it from freelance marketplaces like UpWork and Fiverr, which take a % minimize of earnings. Since Contra doesn’t cost a fee on earnings, it monetizes by a SaaS subscription, $29 a month, that features advantages resembling same-day payouts and better visibility within the platform to ultimately get higher alternatives.
A doubtlessly massive new competitor may be from LinkedIn itself, which is growing a brand new service known as Marketplaces to help freelancers find and book work. Fb can also be engaged on a software associated to freelancers. Huffman sees Contra’s deal with skilled identification as a aggressive benefit, and the truth that the software may be taking commissions.
“It makes what we’re doing that rather more related,” he mentioned.
Fortunately, the startup has raised a $14.5 million Sequence A spherical to satisfy its competitors head on. The financing occasion was led by Uncommon Ventures, with participation from Cowboy Ventures and Li Jin’s not too long ago introduced Atelier Ventures.
Contra wouldn’t disclose the variety of customers it at the moment has however did affirm that the full is “within the six-figure vary.”
The money can be used to extend the velocity wherein it might ship options, in addition to construct out an envoy program, wherein it would pay customers $1,000 a month to check out the product and help the shift to unbiased work.