Meet Collective, a French startup that wants to redefine what it means to work as a freelancer in development, product design, digital marketing, data strategy and more. The company has built a platform for multiple freelancers to team up and work together on the same project.
The trick is that these teams remain independent freelancers. They don’t work for the same company, they just work on the same project. Everyone then gets their share of the bill when the job is done.
Originally backed by startup studio eFounders, Collective raised an $8 million seed round led by Blossom Capital. Many business angels also invest in the startup. Some freelancers who use Collective for their freelance work have also invested in Collective – they put their money where their mouth is.
Platforms for freelancers are not new. Many developers based in France are probably already familiar with Malt or Comet. But Collective does not want to face these marketplaces. Instead, Collective only accepts freelance teams — it can be a team, a studio, a flash team, a community…
“We are creating the first SaaS platform dedicated to independent collectives,” co-founder and CEO Jean de Rauglaudre told me. He listed the advantages of a collective over a more traditional development agency company.
According to him, a team of freelancers is usually cheaper than an agency because there are fixed fees with the agency. While this is true, self-employed people still have to pay health insurance, pension contributions, etc. Essentially, it’s a more individualistic way of thinking about a group of colleagues, because collectives don’t share the same benefits.
But if you’re ok with that, there are more obvious advantages with collectives. For example, participating in a collective is a more flexible way of working because you can always work on your own projects in parallel. You can also choose to participate in several collectives at the same time.
The startup offers you essential tools. For example, if you choose to manage your collective on the platform, you can create a single invoice and send it to your client. The customer only has to pay the invoice once. Collective takes care of splitting payments and funding individual accounts.
Behind the scenes, Collective uses a special status called “administrative portage”. With this trick, Collective can legally issue invoices and represent teams. On the other side, independents can choose their own incorporation status.
In addition to administrative tasks, Collective also wants to provide marketing tools. For example, the company wants to develop a lightweight content platform so that each collective can create their own branding, showcase their work portfolio and more.
The startup takes a small cut on invoices. If the customers come directly from Collective, then the company asks for a larger share. And it seems to work well, since hundreds of companies have already worked with a collective.
Understanding the governance system of these collectives will also be interesting. Unlike traditional private companies, no one “owns” the collective, which means that everyone has a say in choosing the next job or the compensation system.
Many DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) rely on tokens on a blockchain to make important decisions. With Collective, there is no blockchain involved. And the startup proves that you don’t always need a blockchain to reach consensus.