Ryan Gill is CEO of Communo.
Calgary’s Business: What is Communo and how does it work?
Gill: Communo is a community of advertising and marketing professionals who give and get work from each other via a mobile app. It’s like Tinder, but for creative professionals looking for work or agencies looking to hire contingent workers for a specific project.
It’s based on the principles of a sharing economy and it helps both parties better deal with the unpredictable nature of the marketing services industry.
Let me give you an example: If I land a big contract with a client, and I need 10 people to help me with web design, copywriting, etc., I can post jobs on the app and a curated list of members who think they can help respond by applying directly to me.
One of our members landed a $50,000 contract after being in Communo for only two weeks. Clients love that their agencies have access to this network of talented professionals to help them find niche skill sets. We hear stories like this almost every day, so we know the concept works and our members are thriving.
CB: What are your expansion plans for Communo?
Gill: We’re based in Calgary and have huge plans for our global headquarters in this city. We anticipate we will need to hire over 700 full-time team members over the next few years – fortunately some beautiful office space downtown appears to be vacant.
But our reach is global, and we’re seeing members sign up from all over.
We’re expanding our sales and marketing efforts south of the border. For example, Seattle is a bustling creative community and we see a lot of potential there. We’re also aggressively growing our footprint in Vancouver and Toronto.
We’re most dominant in Canadian markets right now, but we’ve already got members in places like Virginia, Colorado and Utah, and English-speaking Europe is on our radar as well. We just had someone from Iceland join recently.
CB:What are your plans for raising investment for the venture?
Gill: Our investment partners have been outstanding. Patrick Lor and the team at Panache Ventures have supported us from the beginning. And, of course, there are others that I can’t thank publicly.
We’re now entering our Series A $10-million raise and we’re excited for other investors to come on board.
Communo is growing quickly because the model is working and hundreds of small agency owners are benefiting from the ability to source talent and give and get work. Now we just need to rapidly scale. Investors who are interested in disruptive technologies and exploiting the principles of the sharing economy would make great partners.
CB: Who does the concept appeal to?
Gill: The Communo concept appeals to two groups. First, creative entrepreneurs looking for work or looking to more nimbly grow their business. We have 43 different niches represented – everything from social media managers, brand strategists and SEO experts.
We offer professional development and coaching to help them with their business and, once they join the community, they can begin bidding and/or collaborating on projects.
The second group attracted to Communo are small to medium-size agencies seeking qualified talent on a contingent basis. Often they need the talent fast. Our members are pre-vetted and ready to be hired with the click of a button.
CB: How difficult is it for businesses to find the right talent to do certain jobs?
Gill: As you know, I’ve worked in the marketing/advertising industry for over 20 years in Calgary and we’re seeing some important shifts that excite the hell out of me.
The first shift we’re seeing is from generalists to specialists. If you’re in a business that calls itself “full service,” I suggest you quickly reposition yourself. There’s more value in being really good at a few things, rather than mediocre at a bunch of things.
The other shift is from ownership to access. Having a big staff and many full-time employees used to be the sign of a successful business, but these days leaner is better. Companies want access to talent, they don’t want to own the talent.
So, to answer your question, with the help of technology and a sharing economy platform like Communo, we think hiring the right talent or ‘expert’ for the job has never been easier.
– Mario Toneguzzi