Raphael Ouzan, CEO of A.Team - The Rise of the Freelance Team 🎙
Part-Time Tech Podcast Episode 5
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In this episode, we talk about how A.Team works and the rise of flexible teams as a unit of freelance and contractual work. While freelancing and contracting is typically done by individuals in the tech world, A.Team’s platform is built upon the premise the right teams can accomplish more, even as freelancers.
I’m starting to see many niches within the landscape of freelance marketplaces starting to fill up. While Upwork and Fiverr tend to lean towards small gigs, A.Team takes a different approach by assembling custom freelance teams to take on larger ‘missions’ that can span from a few months to two years.
Raphael and I talked about his story and company, but also more broadly about how work is changing and how companies should be building adaptable workforces for uncertain economic times.
3 Takeaways from talking to Raphael Ouzan
1. Don’t just experiment with your early product, experiment with your team
Early on for startups, it’s not always clear what team you need. Or it may be changing month-to-month or even week-to-week. We’re used to the idea of experimenting with products to achieve product market fit, but the team is what builds the product and needs equal attention. As that product and market pivots, the right team to build that may have to pivot as well.
Early on while building A.Team, they dogfooded their product by bringing in someone from the platform to help with some data work. They got some help from this person but they didn’t have enough data for them to work full-time.
Once the company matured, they brought him in full-time. They were able to build a talent pipeline for full-timers, and experiment with what they needed early on while the company was still figuring out its needs.
2. Looking for flexibility doesn’t mean looking for less meaningful work
Raphael and his team are seeing a lot of builders eschew typical full-time employment for engagements on A.Team. But this doesn’t mean they don’t want less meaningful work. Some of the best builders are still craving meaningful, impactful work, but not within the confines of a typical 9-5.
A.Team engagements can last months to over a year, so they’re not quick gigs, and they give people an opportunity to pick a project they actually care about.
Flexibility is key, but many of the best builders still want to work on something they care about.
3. Companies are networks and communities
Raphael asked a great question: what are the four walls of your company?
Especially in a remote world where work becomes more fluid, what is the identity and makeup of a company? Raphael believes the future of companies looks a lot more like networks and communities rather than simply who is on your payroll.
The traditional way to think about the makeup of your company is in terms of headcount and numbers on a spreadsheet. But that’s expensive, slow, and gets you to the point of all these layoffs we’ve seen more recently. Many companies tried to scale up using only FTEs to capitalize on COVID demand but had a drastic rubber band moment when they realize they miscalculated and had massive layoffs. This affected livelihoods and company morale.
A better way to think about demand is a focus on teams. What are the outcomes you need to drive, and what is the team to help you get there for any initiative? Often times, that team might not exist within your current staffing, but could be built through your network and contingent workforce (whether through A.Team, other marketplaces, consultants, etc) that your company has developed in addition to FTEs.
The businesses that can work this way will be far more agile and robust to changing economic winds.
(0:00) Intro and Raphael's Background
(5:40) Best of Freelancing and Teams
(7:02) Who Hires A Teams
(14:12) How A Teams are Used
(16:05) Building a dynamic workforce
(20:02) Changing markets and work preferences
(22:35) Companies as networks and communities
(24:45) Experimenting with your early team
(28:25) Parting Thoughts