How a team of freelancers helped Coconut launch

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Thinking of hiring freelancers to help build your company?

Chances are, you’ll be advised that hiring freelancers at your company’s early stages limits your ability to build culture and harms your ability to scale.

But that’s not what we’ve found at Coconut. Over the 18 months we’ve worked on our digital banking and accounting solution, we’ve hired about 20 freelancers - and they’ve been key in getting our product launched. Although we’re now more reliant on full-time roles, in our early stages taking on freelancers was a more attractive option.

 
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For starters, freelancers challenged us to be really clear about Coconut’s direction and what we’re trying to achieve. Hiring people that work on a project-basis means that we need to give bulletproof briefs, especially when our freelancers are working remotely. This helped us quickly reach a strong brand and a clearly-defined product.

Working with freelancers has also had a big impact on Coconut’s working culture. As a company, letting people work where and how they see best is a key part of becoming as efficient as possible.  Having worked 9–5 (plus) jobs in corporates, I know that those standard hours aren’t always when we’re at our most focused or efficient.

While offering the option to work somewhere other than the office can help people work at their best, being able to take a couple of hours off to pick up your daughter from nursery makes work seem a whole lot less frustrating. For this reason, we’ve introduced this flexibility to our full-time employees.

 
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Freelancers are helping build our business in another important way too. We run a Facebook group called Coconut Bite, which hosts almost 2,500 freelancers that either already have Coconut accounts, or are waiting for theirs. By asking them questions, we get instant feedback on everything from the design of our bank card, to upcoming features.

Building Coconut has been a two-way process, and the group has been instrumental in prodding us towards an end-product that they’ll love. And that’s all we want, really.

Right now we’re now finding a balance between hiring flexible workers and taking on longer-term staff. We want to keep introducing fresh perspectives to help us build the best product possible, but also need full-time staff that are dedicated to cracking all the codes that’ll help us grow.

Maybe easier said than done, but we already know how a mix of personalities and working styles, with an added injection of customer feedback, can help us build something great.

By Sam O'Connor, CEO at Coconut

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