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Merework: Humble Service

A trusted referral marketplace of true professionals

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Value Proposition

Merework.com is an exclusive referral marketplace specializing in connecting top-tier, values-driven freelance professionals.
Our invitation-only community connects clients with freelancers who offer services grounded in the image of Our Maker, disciplined in craft, service, and creativity.
We help freelancers focus on their expertise by matching them with high quality projects. Clients gain access to a trusted network of professionals vetted for their skills, values, and reputation.
Our goal is to foster work relationships centered on mutual service and our union in Christ.
Good work is good.

Discovery

Target Market

The target market consists of two segments:
Established freelance professionals in coaching, consulting, and specialized services looking to gain referrals, leads, and support in establishing and scaling their business.
Small and medium enterprises and solopreneurs seeking trustworthy freelance and fractional partners.
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Persona of Freelancer

Jacob
A 45-year-old small business owner looking to grow his coaching practice
Has over 15 years of experience in his field but struggles with the business side of acquiring new clients.
He wants to focus on service delivery rather than sales and marketing.
He seeks an efficient way to gain referrals from like-minded professionals.
He’s not willing to compromise on his values and appreciates working with like-minded mission-driven, principled clients.
He enjoys partnership opportunities and collaborations with complementary service providers.
He’s frustrated by having to learn new technologies and adapt to new platforms and tools.

Problem Statement

Talented freelance professionals struggle to efficiently gain clients because they lack focused marketing and sales capabilities. This prevents them from fully leveraging their expertise in service to others.

Breakdown of Problem

Former employees turned freelancers end up spending too much time on business operations instead of service delivery.
LinkedIn and other platforms have a low signal-to-noise ratio, making it hard to identify the right partners.
Transactional marketplaces like Fiverr commoditize services, undervaluing specialty skills.
Freelancers focus on chasing individual prospects instead of designing compelling lead generation funnels.
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Validate with Data

Conduct research and identify KPIs to qualify and articulate the pain
Survey data on pain points of independent consultants and solopreneurs
Market size and growth trends in the freelance/gig economy globally for premium and executive-level services
Customer acquisition costs and conversion rates for freelancer marketing channels
Sales cycle length and referral rates for small coaching/consulting businesses
Impact of shared values and referral-based marketing on conversion rates

Hypothesis

Providing a selective, community-driven marketplace for freelance professionals, with built-in lead generation, will increase client acquisition efficiency.
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Conduct Stakeholder Interviews

Testable assumptions
Freelancers and clients value a trust-based marketplace: Shared values and mission-orientation are important selection criteria for both freelancers and clients when choosing partners.
Relevance of social proof: Clients highly value referrals and social proof when evaluating and selecting freelancers to work with.
Quality trumps quantity: The assumption is that both freelancers and clients would prefer a fewer number of high-quality leads/referrals to a large number of less-qualified ones.
Significance of operational overheads: This assumes that freelancers struggle mainly with operational tasks like sales and marketing rather than service delivery.
Willingness to pay for leads: Clients are willing to pay a monthly subscription fee for access to vetted freelancer profiles and to post projects.
Network effect of referrals: Freelancers are eager to refer one another given the shared values and community ethos of the platform.
Clients desire long-term relationships: Clients are not just looking for one-off projects but are interested in forming longer-term relationships with freelancers.
Community engagement drives loyalty: Validate whether a "Missions Page" actually contributes to user engagement and retention.
Importance of skill diversification: Clients are interested in a range of services (e.g., coaching, consulting, specialized services) from freelancers.
Engagement through user-created content: Lead generation services such as optimized content and digital promotion will effectively convert users into subscribed members.

Sample Questions

Freelancers (Supply)
What are your top priorities when it comes to the health and prospects of your business?
How important is finding qualified leads for your business today and as you look to the future?
What challenges have you faced in trying to gain new clients? Can you recall the last time you felt you were not doing enough or could not find the right resources to support your effort?
Have you invested in any particular tools or strategies? How do you measure whether one is helping your business or not?
What frustrations or difficulties have you experienced with existing services and strategies?
How important are shared values and principles in working with clients?
Clients (Demand)
How often are you in need of finding qualified expertise outside of your business’s existing capacity?
What methods have you used in identifying and bringing in expertise? Which have been the most effective in terms of time to hire and quality of talent?
What factors most influence your decision to work with a particular freelancer?
What difficulties have you faced in finding and evaluating qualified freelance consultants? Describe a recent instance where you felt the system or methods at your disposal were inadequate for bringing in the right level of outside expertise.
Would you prefer to work with freelancers who share your values? Why?

Product Solution

Product Vision & Mission

Good work is good.
Merework.com celebrates the dignity of work done well and the craftsman who serves others through the application of their gifts. We foster professional relationships grounded in mutual service, integrity, and the pursuit of excellence.
We believe that work is not just a means to an end but a form of worship and service that reflects our commitment to a higher calling.
Freelancers and clients are not only encouraged to pursue professional excellence but also to embed their work with values of integrity, compassion, and discipleship—making every project an opportunity to "work as for the Lord."

Product Principles

Trust: Strict quality criteria ensure a high-caliber marketplace.
Reputation: Freelancers are vetted and rated based on expertise, values, and satisfaction.
Community: Shared mission and values strengthens relationships.
Craft: Encouraging excellence in skills and service delivery.
Accessibility: Making elite-level services attainable for clients.

Key Features & Benefits

Invitation-only community: Platform is accessible only to freelancers and clients who have passed our strict vetting criteria.
Benefit: Maintains a high-caliber marketplace of professionals whose skills and values align with community ethos.
Dynamic service provider referral: Freelancers and clients can refer additional service providers to the marketplace, where they receive increased visibility based on the number and quality of referrals they receive.
Benefit: Enables high-quality, trusted service providers to naturally rise to prominence within the community, making it easier for clients to identify and engage with top-tier professionals. This also encourages members to actively refer excellent service providers, enriching the quality of the marketplace.
Value-matching algorithm: A matching algorithm that aligns freelancers and clients based on their professed values and service needs.
Benefit: Ensures compatible and mutually beneficial working relationships.
Secure payment gateway: A built-in payment processing system that makes transactions between freelancers and clients seamless and secure.
Benefit: Adds a layer of trust and ease in financial interactions.
Performance tracking: A robust analytics dashboard to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) like project completion rate, client satisfaction, and income.
Benefit: Helps freelancers and clients make data-driven decisions for their business or projects.
Missions page: A unique platform feature where freelancers can offer pro bono services or contribute to community-based initiatives.
Benefit: Allows members to tangibly act on their values and collaborate to serve community.
Resource library: Access to articles, templates, and webinars that cover best practices in freelancing, business, and values-based work.
Benefit: Continuous learning and development opportunities for both freelancers and clients.
Direct messaging and communication tools: A built-in chat and video conferencing system for streamlined communication between freelancers and clients.
Benefit: Facilitates clearer project guidelines and expectations, leading to more successful outcomes.

Customized learning paths: After an initial assessment, the platform creates a customized and adaptive learning plan for each student.
Benefit: Personalizes learning to student's level and goals for better outcomes.
Integrated payment processing: Parents can seamlessly pay and track expenses for tutor subscriptions, test registration, and other platform fees.
Benefit: Provides transparency and simplicity for managing payments.
Interactive dashboard for parents: A user-friendly interface where parents can track their children's trajectory, see upcoming tests, view earned badges, and easily manage payments.
Benefit: Enables parents to engage and participate in their child's learning.
Certification and training for tutors: The platform offers a certification program that tutors must complete in order to teach.
Benefit: Ensures tutor quality and standards for effective instruction.
Institutional oversight: For schools and English-language training centers, the platform provides management tools to monitor the performance of their teachers, control curricula, and track the progress of batches of students.
Benefit: Allows institutions to take ownership of learning outcomes.
workflow

User Journeys

Stage 1: Awareness & Onboarding
Freelancers: Discover Merework.com through social media, industry publications, or referrals from existing members. They apply by filling out a detailed application, including proof of skills, values, and past work.
Clients: Learn about the platform through referrals, web searches, or through their community (such as churches or Christian business associations). They register and complete an initial needs assessment.
Merework Admins: Oversee the initial setup of the platform, approve freelancers based on vetting criteria, and monitor client onboarding.
Stage 2: Exploration & Matchmaking
Freelancers: Browse through a list of potential clients and projects, which are matched based on their skills and values. They can express interest or wait to be contacted by clients.
Clients: After onboarding, they are provided with a curated list of freelancers that match their needs. They can view profiles, ratings, and reach out to potential freelancers.
Merework Admins: Monitor the matchmaking process through an analytics dashboard to ensure quality matches and to make adjustments to the matching algorithm.
Stage 3: Engagement & Service Delivery
Freelancers: Engage with clients via in-built messaging and project management tools. They submit proposals, timelines, and begin work upon acceptance.
Clients: Communicate with freelancers to finalize project scopes, review progress, and make payments through the platform. ​Merework Admins: Act as intermediaries in case of disputes and also ensure smooth project execution. Monitor ongoing projects for quality assurance.
Stage 4: Assessment & Feedback
Freelancers: Upon project completion, they request reviews from clients and also leave reviews for the clients.
Clients: Complete projects and then rate freelancers based on performance, timeliness, and other criteria. They also have the option to tip or reward freelancers for exceptional work.
Merework Admins: Collect and analyze review and rating data for quality assurance and to fine-tune the platform’s vetting and matching processes.
Stage 5: Continuity & Growth
Freelancers: Based on performance and reviews, gain more visibility and opportunities on the platform. They can also engage in the community by participating in webinars, forums, and contributing to the Missions page.
Clients: Decide to continue with the same freelancers or explore others based on performance and feedback. They can also become referrers and earn benefits.
Merework Admins: Use analytics for long-term planning, including potential expansions into new service verticals or geographical markets. They also roll out feature updates based on user feedback.

Business Model

The marketplace generates revenue through subscriptions from both freelancers and clients, with freelancers paying for access to leads, referrals, and coaching while clients pay to post projects and view vetted freelancer profiles.

Assumptions and Pricing

Freelancer subscription for access to leads, referrals, coaching: $300/mo
Client subscription to post projects and access full freelancer profiles: $100/mo
Freelancer LTV: $15000
Freelancer CAC: $200
Liquidity ratio: 1:5
Conversion rate: 15% of leads convert to clients
Average project value: $5000
Institutional license fee: TBD (For enterprises, public, and not-for-profit organizations)
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Revenue Projections

Year 1 (Pilot)
Freelancers: 200
Clients: 500
Freelancer Annual Revenue: 200 freelancers * $300/mo * 12 = $720,000
Client Annual Revenue: 500 clients * $100/mo * 12 = $600,000
Total Revenue Year 1: $720,000 (Freelancers) + $600,000 (Clients) = $1,320,000
Year 2
Freelancers: 400 (100% YoY growth)
Clients: 1000 (100% YoY growth)
Freelancer Annual Revenue: 400 freelancers * $300/mo * 12 = $1,440,000
Client Annual Revenue: 1000 clients * $100/mo * 12 = $1,200,000
Total Revenue Year 2: $1,440,000 (Freelancers) + $1,200,000 (Clients) = $2,640,000
Year 3
Freelancers: 800 (100% YoY growth)
Clients: 2000 (100% YoY growth)
Freelancer Annual Revenue: 800 freelancers * $300/mo * 12 = $2,880,000
Client Annual Revenue: 2000 clients * $100/mo * 12 = $2,400,000
Total Revenue Year 3: $2,880,000 (Freelancers) + $2,400,000 (Clients) = $5,280,000

Performance Metrics

Both freelancer and client engagement act as early indicators of long-term profitability, guiding necessary real-time adjustments. Revenue, growth, and satisfaction KPIs are balanced to inform a sustainable scale while ensuring quality. The metrics create a virtuous cycle where quality service and business success are mutually reinforcing.
Freelancer engagement
Freelancer retention rate
Target: >85% annually
Range: 80-90%
Average time spent on the platform
Target: >2 hour per week
Range: 1-3 hours per week
Completion rate of projects
Target: >80%
Range: 75-85%
Client engagement
Client retention rate
Target: >90%
Range: 85-95%
Average number of projects posted
Target: >4 per month
Range: 3-5
Client reviews and ratings of freelancers
Target: Average rating of 4.5+ out of 5
Range: 4-5
Revenue
Monthly recurring revenue (MRR)
Target: $5 million by Year 3
Range: $4.5-5.5 million
Customer lifetime value (LTV)
Target: $15,000
Range: $13,000-$17,000
Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
Target: <$200 for Freelancers
Range: $150-250
Growth
New freelancers per month
Target: 200 freelancers
Range: 180-220
New clients per month
Target: 400 clients
Range: 350-450
Number of referrals
Target: 100 new referrals per month
Range: 90-110
User satisfaction
Net promoter score (NPS)
Target: >60
Range: 55-65
Customer support resolution time
Target: <12 hours
Range: 4-24 hours
Monthly active users (MAU)
Target: 5000 MAU
Range: 4500-5500
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North Star Metric

Qualified project completion
Target: 35% Year-over-Year Growth
Target: 10,000 quality projects by Year 3

Go-to-Market

Combining an MVP phase focused on referrals with a robust talent review system, our go-to-market strategy aims to validate key features, build up a quality talent pool, and subsequently scale into a full-fledged, self-service marketplace. Strong partnerships, influencer collaborations, and content will be key growth drivers.

GTM Strategy

MVP and referral-based pre-marketplace: Launch an MVP where freelancers can be vetted and onboarded through an invite-only system, emphasizing referrals to build a quality talent pool.
Expected to be rolled out within the first 3 months.
Feature validation and user feedback: Use the invite-only phase to validate essential features and systems for talent review.
Target completion within the first 6 months.
Transition to self-service marketplace: Once a critical mass of talent is achieved and key features are validated, transition into a more self-service marketplace model.
Aim for transition within 12-18 months of launch.
Partnership, influencers, and content strategy: Utilize a multi-pronged approach to growth, leveraging partnerships with related service providers, influencer marketing, and strong content.
Rollout in phases, aligning with MVP and full marketplace launches.
ninja

Primary Tactics

Referral and talent engagement
Invite initial batch of freelancers through referrals from trusted sources.
Offer special features or discounted access for early adopters who provide valuable feedback.
Gather data on engagement, pain points, and feature adoption.
Partnerships
Identify 5-10 potential partnerships with freelancing agencies, co-working spaces, or related service providers.
Explore cross-promotion opportunities and offer value-added services to their customer base.
Influencer outreach
Engage industry leaders and influencers to endorse or review the platform.
Provide a set of approved content and assets for sharing.
Track reach, engagement, and conversion rates stemming from influencer activity.
Content production
Develop educational and engaging content about the freelancing industry, success stories, and best practices.
Produce video interviews, webinars, and how-to guides that align with Merework.com's mission and values.
Digital promotion
Run targeted ads focusing on the unique features and benefits of Merework.com.
Leverage SEO and social media to drive organic traffic.
Constantly test and optimize conversion rates from various promotional channels.

Build

The team's mission is to create a self-sustainable ecosystem for freelancers, clients, and administrators by leveraging technology to streamline talent review and job matching. We aim to build a user-centric, scalable, and agile platform.

Steps

Research and planning: Conduct market analysis and create user personas for freelancers, clients, and admins. Plan for an MVP with core functionalities.
Stakeholder alignment: Consult existing networks, potential clients, and freelance talent to understand specific needs and features that would drive engagement.
Technical assessment: Evaluate the tech stack focusing on scalability and security, especially for the handling of project details and payments.
Design sprints: Move from low-fidelity wireframes to high-fidelity prototypes, focusing on intuitive navigation and UI/UX.
Feature prioritization: Create a detailed list of user stories separated into 'must-haves' for the MVP and 'nice-to-haves' for future iterations.
Development sprints: Use agile methodology to complete feature development in manageable cycles, particularly focusing on referral systems and talent review in early stages.
Compliance checks: Ensure compliance with applicable laws, particularly data protection and financial regulations.
Quality assurance: Implement automated and manual testing procedures after each sprint to confirm feature stability and usability.
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