Willix Halim: We're a marketplace for jobs  

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1 January 1970 07:00 WIB

Willix Halim, Senior Vice President of Growth at Freelancer.com. Photo: Private Doc

TEMPO.CO, JakartaAs part of the younger generation, Willix Halim understands well what it takes to begin a startup company in an industry that attracts people in their early to mid-twenties. Freelancer.com, an outsourcing marketplace founded in Australia in 2009, provides a platform for young people to opt outside 9-to-5 jobs, earning some income from one project through another.

In Indonesia, Freelancer.com opened its branch office two years ago, and since then its Indonesian users have grown from 600,000 to 1 million. Globally, the online marketplace has more than 15 million users. "The awareness of the freelancing industry has grown significantly and Indonesia has received this idea very well," said 27-year-old Willix, who was born in Medan, North Sumatra.

Last month, he visited Jakarta to expand the company in Indonesia. "Jakarta is our next talent expansion and there'll be a lot of focus on marketing as well," Willix told Tempo English reporter Amanda Siddharta on the budding industry. Excerpts:

What is the future of the online marketplace industry in Indonesia, especially in the freelancing area?

 

The good thing about the online marketplace is you don't really have so many competitors. There's a 'winner takes all' sort of attitude. Take Ebay. There's no number two for websites like Ebay. I think that the awareness has grown magnificently. The freelance community, especially in Indonesia, has accepted this freelancing idea (through the online marketplace) very well.

Do you think this trend is growing among the younger generation?

 

Now, people move around jobs every one to two years. The prediction that we have, and this is what Freelancer.com is banking on, is the short attention span and that (young people) want to do more project-based jobs.

Yet there seems to be reservation on the employers' side.

 

I think it's like credit cards. In Indonesia five years ago, there was hardly anyone who used credit cards. I think it's really just a matter of time. It doesn't just happen in Indonesia; it happens everywhere. The idea of a freelancing job in developing countries such as India and the Philippines has not been well received (by employers). And time will only tell if things will be better.

Since this is an online marketplace, how do you ensure the safety of both the employers and freelancers to minimize fraudulent transactions?

 

For the majority of the jobs, (the employers) do have to provide upfront milestone. It means that the money will be secured in our system. That would get the freelancers to trust us and say, "OK, there's the money in the system that we hold." That money will be released once the employer is happy, then we'll the money or the milestone. That creates trust in a sense.

What is the legal basis for the website since you outsource jobs to people?

 

The way we see it, we're just a marketplace. If we're talking about taxes, yes, that's ultimately the freelancers' responsibility to pay taxes. If they don't do it, there's no way for us to enforce it. So we see ourselves as a marketplace to provide jobs that will literally increase the welfare of developing countries such as India, Indonesia, the Philippines and so on.

What is the biggest challenge for Freelancer.com in Indonesia?

 

I think Internet speed is one of the biggest problems for us. Our website is developed in Australia where we assume the Internet is really fast. We spend a lot time ensuring everyone can use it, but our user experience is based on fast internet speed.

Not the competitors?

 

There are always many competitors. But to be honest I'm not really worried about anything. We should really be worried about our current company and (how to) make a perfect product. For me, the more freelancing startups, the better, because that means that industry is right where we should be, and that's growing. (*)

As part of the younger generation, Willix Halim understands well what it takes to begin a startup company in an industry that attracts people in their early to mid-twenties. Freelancer.com, an outsourcing marketplace founded in Australia in 2009, provides a platform for young people to opt outside 9-to-5 jobs, earning some income from one project through another. 

In Indonesia, Freelancer.com opened its branch office two years ago, and since then its Indonesian users have grown from 600,000 to 1 million. Globally, the online marketplace has more than 15 million users. "The awareness of the freelancing industry has grown significantly and Indonesia has received this idea very well," said 27-year-old Willix, who was born in Medan, North Sumatra. 

Last month, he visited Jakarta to expand the company in Indonesia. "Jakarta is our next talent expansion and there'll be a lot of focus on marketing as well," Willix told Tempo English reporter Amanda Siddharta on the budding industry. Excerpts:

* * * *


What is the future of the online marketplace industry in Indonesia, especially in the freelancing area?

 

The good thing about the online marketplace is you don't really have so many competitors. There's a 'winner takes all' sort of attitude. Take Ebay. There's no number two for websites like Ebay. I think that the awareness has grown magnificently. The freelance community, especially in Indonesia, has accepted this freelancing idea (through the online marketplace) very well.



Do you think this trend is growing among the younger generation?

 

Now, people move around jobs every one to two years. The prediction that we have, and this is what Freelancer.com is banking on, is the short attention span and that (young people) want to do more project-based jobs.



Yet there seems to be reservation on the employers' side.

 

I think it's like credit cards. In Indonesia five years ago, there was hardly anyone who used credit cards. I think it's really just a matter of time. It doesn't just happen in Indonesia; it happens everywhere. The idea of a freelancing job in developing countries such as India and the Philippines has not been well received (by employers). And time will only tell if things will be better.



Since this is an online marketplace, how do you ensure the safety of both the employers and freelancers to minimize fraudulent transactions?

 

For the majority of the jobs, (the employers) do have to provide upfront milestone. It means that the money will be secured in our system. That would get the freelancers to trust us and say, "OK, there's the money in the system that we hold." That money will be released once the employer is happy, then we'll the money or the milestone. That creates trust in a sense.



What is the legal basis for the website since you outsource jobs to people?

 

The way we see it, we're just a marketplace. If we're talking about taxes, yes, that's ultimately the freelancers' responsibility to pay taxes. If they don't do it, there's no way for us to enforce it. So we see ourselves as a marketplace to provide jobs that will literally increase the welfare of developing countries such as India, Indonesia, the Philippines and so on.



What is the biggest challenge for Freelancer.com in Indonesia?

 

I think Internet speed is one of the biggest problems for us. Our website is developed in Australia where we assume the Internet is really fast. We spend a lot time ensuring everyone can use it, but our user experience is based on fast internet speed.



Not the competitors?

 

There are always many competitors. But to be honest I'm not really worried about anything. We should really be worried about our current company and (how to) make a perfect product. For me, the more freelancing startups, the better, because that means that industry is right where we should be, and that's growing.


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