written by Trevor To
We visited local creative-tech startup Easle's office in the TEA building in Shoreditch earlier to understand what their plan is for creative talents.
Q1. Could you tell us what makes Easle different from other creative talent search websites? What's your unique selling point?
A: Our unique selling point is the quality of the creators on the platform. Other creative talent search websites generally go by price point, solely benefitting whoever is looking to have work done. More often than not this results in a race to the lowest fees, which drives away the top talent. Every creator that is on Easle will have been accepted onto the platform by an industry leader for their field, or 'Easle Ambassador’. While we don’t want Easle to be too exclusive, we do want to make sure that it is a community of creative professionals. This guarantees that we can attract the most exciting brands to post their work.
We're building Easle to be an end-to-end platform, meaning creators can handle their whole freelance process in one place. All negotiation takes place on the site, all paperwork is generated through the site. In fact, one of our biggest selling points is that freelancers on Easle never have to chase an invoice again. The client has to pay the balance up front, at which point the freelancer receives their 50% deposit. From there, Easle holds the remaining balance while the work gets carried out and we release the funds on completion of the project. Any disputes that arise are mediated and resolved by us.
Q2. When did you start to have this idea? Throughout the development process, what are the greatest challenges? Are they expected or unexpected? Have you managed to overcome all of them yet?
A: Starting in August 2016, we actually set out to build a completely different website but with a similar core aim. We began with a micro-donation platform that allowed creators to publish their work receive ’tips' from fans. We were immediately faced with the difficulty of building a social platform, and the chicken-vs-egg nature of getting creators to post work, which in turn generates traffic, which in turn encourages creators to post work...
One of the challenges of building an online product is to validate an idea you may have. It's dangerously easy to go off assumptions in your head about what a creator / artist / user might have difficulties with. The only way to have absolute assurance and confidence is to go out and talk to your market. You need to plunge yourself into that world to really get a feel of the current pain points, and where your product can help with this.
We went back to the drawing board and talked to as many of the 250 creators who did sign up as possible. Time and time again, we heard about the challenges of being a freelance artist, or of having an agent who doesn’t provide that much opportunity (but charges healthily when they do). This sounded like a problem we could solve. We stripped back the technology and made a simple one page website with an email and brief overview input. We then worked out a niche of clients per artistic domain, (e.g. video game developers looking for soundtrack music could be matched with our composers, people looking for custom Christmas cards could be matched with our illustrators), and simply attracted them to our site by posting in forums and on websites these people hung out. Before we knew it, we were matching creators and clients and thus Easle was born.
Q3. While Easle's service is mostly focused online at the launch period, do you have plans to have any offline events to promote the service or the talents enrolled?
A: We've got a ton of exciting ideas once we've launched Easle. While the online platform will hugely benefit freelancers, we haven't forgotten the importance of real world connections. We want to take as big a part in the offline world as well as the online. Through our roster we build up on our platform we'll be making steps to create events for various disciplines. From exhibitions for artists & illustrators, to screenings for filmakers & animators, we want to create opportunities for creators and clients to form meaningful relationships.
Otherwise, we are currently providing an offline service to match clients with creative freelancers before the site has launched. If a particular client wants a custom service, we will always be able to provide that using the creators that have signed up to the site.
We want Easle to be a place that reminds both creators and clients that working together does not have to be a chore. Whether its online or offline, the best work comes about from good relationships.
We quite like their idea and wish them great sucess!