Co-founder and CEO: Ben Rosenfield
Company description: App that makes it easier for freelancers and potential clients to connect. Anyone can make money with their skills on the side.
Date of Interview: July 2016
Ben Rosenfield is an entrepreneur, a traveler, and an accidental reality star. He began his entrepreneurship journey about ten years ago in commercial real estate with Titan Commercial, expanded into the technology and marketing sector with Freebie, and is now getting ready to launch his latest venture, Hero – a streamlined marketplace that connects skilled freelancers, or ‘heros’, with clients.
From estate to technology:
Ben has always used his background in psychology and consumer behavior to his advantage. He started his first commercial real estate company when he was 25, and focused on location strategy to expand and attract clients.
“I loved making deals and working in commercial real estate, but I really didn’t think I was doing anything that could change the world and really mean something.”
After about four years in real estate, he began working with a friend on a technology business and was intrigued by how technology could help businesses directly connect to consumers in a totally different way. That interest led him to found his first technology company, Freebie, a mobile app that connects social media influencers to brands in exchange for free product. It allows the brand to quantify the ROI on social media investment and effectively build it into their marketing strategies.
With solid technology experience under his belt, Ben was ready for a new idea that was ‘closer to (his) heart’ — which brought him to Hero.
What’s a Hero?:
“The whole idea behind Hero is that anyone with a skill can make money on the side. We need a faster way to find that instead of spamming our Facebook friends or Googling people we don’t know. Hero is a platform that allows anyone with a skill to make money on the side wherever you are in this world. If you’re a trainer or a masseuse or a social media expert or a camera man — you have the ability to connect to jobs 24/7. You can market your skills anytime you want. It’s kind of like Airbnb but for your own service.”
Ben points out that there are a wealth of individuals out there with skills that can be exchanged for money, but they don’t know how to make the connections.
“Right now people are driving Uber as a lifestyle. These are college grads and highly trained people. I actually just got off the phone with an Olympic athlete who is driving Uber. On Hero, he could monetize his skill and train people instead of being crouched down in a car.”
“Hero epitomizes my lifestyle. It allows me and anyone else to monetize their skill sets.”
Making it easy:
Freelancing and side hustles aren’t new, but the ease and reliability of connecting clients and service providers online is evolving.
“What’s holding people back is a technology solution. People don’t want to go on Elance or Thumbtack because of the amount of paperwork it takes to get onto it. The general population tries to take the simplest route possible. With Hero, the on-boarding and application process takes less than three minutes. Then, you get a follow-up phone call to verify who you are, what you do, and provide some references.”
“It’s kind of like the difference between eHarmony and Match.com versus Tinder and Bumble. There are a lot of people who are online dating that never went on Match.com because the process of signing up and creating an account was too much.”
In addition to the ease of on-boarding, the cost to market yourself and search for services is free. Hero’s business model is to act as a payment processor between Heroes and clients to simplify and ensure reliable payment. The more you use the Hero payment processor, the more leads and reviews you get to build your Hero network and testimonials.
Where to become a hero:
Hero will be launching first in Los Angeles and Chicago. Los Angeles due to the massive freelancing economy there, and Chicago because that’s where Ben’s roots are.
“LA is the biggest and best freelancing economy in the country. Everybody there is an actor and a graphic designer; a trainer and a waiter. Everyone has a side hustle, with multiple jobs and multiple income streams.”
Ben actually got a first row seat to the LA freelancing community when he had the unique opportunity to be on the Mark Burnet reality show, Coupled.
“The entertainment industry is built on the back of freelancers. Everyday a producer or production company can lose crew members, and it’s like a forest fire to find a replacement. With Hero, what used to take days can now take moments. We’re able to allow producers to find people and solve this problem more efficiently than before. Additionally, we allow crew members to find jobs more regularly.”
Looking back on his experience over the last ten years, what would Ben have done differently? – “Invest in Google.” Fast forwarding to today, what is he doing better now than in his early entrepreneurial days? – “Focus.”
Watch for your opportunity to use your skills to become a Hero, and catch Ben on the Fox’s Coupled on Tuesdays at 8 pm Central.