the Gig Exchange - Q&A with Founder Mike berry Story by Naomi Ferreira

Mike Berry is a founder of The Gig Exchange, a platform for freelancers and contractors.

Mike founded the company when he saw an opportunity to create an ethical marketplace for IT freelancers and contractors. His vision was to help them set fair prices and commission fees that businesses would find attractive. He understood the challenges of self-employment and how it felt to be on the receiving end of high commission fees.

I am very lucky to have great friends who are incredibly talented web developers and UX/UI designers. I realised that we had the skills, capability and purpose to create a world class platform which could compete with global jobs and gig economy competitors and solve the problems of high commission fees in the freelance and contracting world

How do listings work and what niches/needs is the Gig Exchange filling in in the market?

We are a Future of Work marketplace that offers 4 service listings. These are:

  • Gigs or ‘Gig Economy Tasks’: This is outcome based work, where the lister can advertise a ‘Fixed Price’ gig, or a ‘Negotiable’ gig. We allow suitable gig workers (Freelancers/Contractors/Service Providers) to chat privately and negotiate. Once an agreement is made, we hold the money until work is completed to satisfaction.
  • Jobs: Our jobs service allows businesses to advertise for casual, temporary, contract or permanent jobs. Essentially anything that is time based, as opposed to outcome based.
  • Volunteer: We want to create a site which is free and easy for charities and community groups to access volunteers. We want to be the digital interface between the community, volunteers & businesses.
  • Promote: Where freelancers, contractors & service based businesses can advertise their services and find new customers, validated by our platform reputation. We want to reward great, hard, honest work to grow our freelancer’s ability to reach new customers.

How do you work out payment rates for freelancers? What would you consider a fair rate?

  • For our Jobs services, the hourly or daily rate will be advertised by the employer for the length of the contract. This is usually a set rate, or a range which is up for negotiation depending on skills and experience.
  • For our gigs services, the work is based on outcome. This can be dictated by the gig lister in a fixed price gig. Or can be negotiable, so a private chat negotiation can occur before selection.
  • For Fixed price gigs, the freelancer has the choice to accept or reject. If the gig lister is not successful in finding workers, we will communicate with them to review the scope of work and price point.
  • For negotiable gigs, freelancers can respond and advise what scope and price they are happy to complete the gig at. We also allow additional in-flight scope and price changes, as we know things unexpectedly change. We want to facilitate a win-win approach.

As an early stage business, we are not offering guidance on rates, or outcome based work as yet. As our database grows, we will utilise our own big data analytics to understand behaviours and offer advice. We will also put in place controls to ensure all services are fair. We are founded and developed by gig workers of the NZ gig economy and we are determined to ensure our platform only delivers fair solutions for all our gig workers & freelancers.

If you wish to volunteer for something you are passionate about, the rate is irrelevant. The purpose and satisfaction is everything!

We take a 5% commission from the successfully completed gig. We believe this is the fairest gig economy fee for any global player. I was determined not to take any larger commission than 5% as we want more money staying in the back pocket of all gig workers & freelancers. The majority of this fee goes to our global payment provider Stripe, but we are happy with this arrangement as their services allow us to reach and help more gig workers.

I have seen into the Future of Work, the job for life is no more, the career for life is evaporating as we have to pivot and upskill multiple times throughout our work life.

The progressive shift to shorter work assignments is happening. For freelancers & contractors, we understand the risk, but the commission based model needs to adapt too. The risk is all on our shoulders. I want to solve this problem, so more money stays in the workers back pocket. We are a 2 sided workplace that understands the pressure of starting a business as well as the struggle and cost of gaining new customers. Whilst also facilitating more work opportunities through all our work services, but at the fairest of fees. We call this empowering the win-win.

We have designed, developed and operated the business as a side hustle right from its inception. I founded the company in late 2018 and we launched just before Covid struck in March 2020. We all have day jobs and work on the business in the evenings and weekends. We knew the challenges we would face, so ensured the platform is fully automated from day 1. This starts with registration through to gig worker identity verification in conjunction with Stripe AI & payouts. Our big focus recently has been on International capability & extending organic reach. Both of which we are pleased to enable soon. It’s been a long path and a lot of blood, sweat & lack of sleep to get here. But we are very proud of our product and excited that new our journey is just beginning.

The gig economy has taken a big hit in 2020 due to COVID, is it less viable or more viable as a result?

Covid has highlighted the risk of short term assignments. This doesn’t mean the model is broken, it simply means we need to understand and mitigate those risks. As a freelancer or contractor, we keep aside a pool of money for rainy day scenarios. Perhaps we have to reassess the size of the pool, because Covid has been a monsoon of unprecedented proportions!

The term gig economy has matured in its short life, from initially low skilled taxi workers, to now encompassing highly skilled freelancers, contractors & consultants completing high grade business assignments. The risks are abundant, but the rewards and opportunities will only grow.

Are there any listings/jobs you would not take?

Yes, we outline these in our terms & conditions #5b. In summary we do not allow and will remove any Listings or content on our website that is misleading, deceptive, harmful, offensive, defamatory, of an adult-oriented, pornographic, political or religious nature, or infringes a third party’s intellectual property rights.

When will you decide to move into the Australian market, and what differentiates the Gig Exchange from other recruiters?

We have enabled our international capabilities & Australian gig worker feature in development and will be releasing to production in the next few weeks. We would love to have your freelancers join our platform. Watch this space!

I believe our marketplace has 2 separate USPs to all our competitors.

Our technical product and services are unique. No one has combined the gig economy, with conventional permanent jobs & contracts, volunteering & self-promotional advertisements. We also have so much more to come.

Our why. We created this platform as we see the Future of Work & we understand and empathise with the rewards and challenges faced both now and in the future. We want businesses to access high class talent, at affordable prices for all of our services. Whilst ensuring gig workers, freelancers & contractors get access to great work opportunities at fair rates.

More broadly and in your opinion: what does the future of work look like?

The Future of Work is a combination of time and outcome based work, which is why I created gigexchange to facilitate all ways of working. This enables choice & flexibility from both sides of the marketplace, as well as increased opportunities for work.

How we measure success is shifting to an ‘outcome’ based measurement, be that freelancer projects, or Agile based project tasks within businesses, completed by a mixture of both permanent and on-demand workers.

Agile methodologies for measuring success are increasingly popular, such as Sprints or Kanban. This framework is accelerating adoption of the business consultant gig economy.

The Future of Work is about improvement. Businesses want to automate repeatable tasks, improve speed to success, whilst not impacting on quality. As technology advances and Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning & Automation increase efficiency within the workplace, this enables business to focus on growth and new products or projects. The fear is that will remove jobs and work opportunities. I believe that is the case in some industries, but it will also create new opportunities for employees, contractors and freelancers to add extra value where deep tech cannot.

Programming & developing these new AI/ML systems will always require a human touch to oversee.

Creative & human empathy is not going to be replaced in the near future. Any work touching on human emotions will become more valuable. Writing, art, design & video creativity will play bit roles in this.

Globalisation of the workforce. Remote working was nice to have in 2019. Covid has changed that forever. As we work from home more, soon we will question, where is home and what is the office? Remote working will create huge opportunities, but also some challenges.

The Future of Work is upon us. Are we future fit? How do we make it fair?

Part 2: The Future of Freelancing



Header image: Left to right: G (Developer), Chester (Designer) and Mike (Founder) Created with images by Douglas Bagg - "ONLY BROTHERS" • Robert Anasch - "untitled image" • Nikolay Maslov - "untitled image"