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How This Freelancing Platform is Changing the Way Thai People Work

Fastwork, Thailand’s first freelancing marketplace, is helping people take control of how they work

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BY Cristina Morales - 16 May 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Growing up, many of us were told to live our dreams and follow our heart. But this is, more often than not, easier said than done. As we grow older and adjust to the daily demands of adulthood, our dreams often get shoved aside, sometimes forgotten.

But it’s not impossible to make a living as you pursue your passion. When it’s difficult to find a full-time job that lets you do what you want to do, freelancing may be the answer. “Freelancers are people who get to do and make money doing what they love to sustain a lifestyle that they like,” says entrepreneur Vasa Iamsuri.

In late 2015, Vasa founded Fastwork, Thailand’s first freelancing marketplace, to give freelancers the freedom to do what they want to do. Like many children, Vasa wanted to be an artist when he grew up, and like many parents, his folks told him that he should pursue a more practical career where money wouldn’t be so hard to come by, so he ended up taking architecture and starting a career in real estate before he decided to start his own business.

When he and co-founder Apon Palanuwech came back to Thailand and tried to come up with business ideas, they decided to freelance temporarily and saw how difficult it was to find jobs. Apon—who had taught programming courses in Parsons University in New York and had a background in freelancing—knew how hard it was to make enough to sustain oneself. And so Fastwork was born.

Today, Fastwork matches 4,000 freelancers from 50 different specializations to clients, even providing services to big companies like Citibank and Unilever. The company is now Thailand’s top freelancing platform, but Vasa and his co-founders aren’t resting on their laurels just yet. “Thailand is a big market, there’s roughly around 300- to 400,000 freelancers in Thailand today,” says Vasa. “We’re focused on capturing the ones who are really serious about freelancing.”

What’s behind the success of Fastwork?

1. Fastwork protects both freelancers and clients

Before Fastwork entered the picture, Thai freelancers and the people who hired them conducted their business over message boards. Freelancers had no way to make sure that they would be paid for their services, and similarly, their clients couldn’t ensure that they’d get their money’s worth.

With Fastwork, freelancers know that as long as they do their work according to what was agreed upon, they would get paid. Clients also know that they get what they want, because Fastwork holds the freelancer’s payment until they are satisfied with the job done.

2. Fastwork is designed specifically for the Thai people

This isn’t just a matter of creating a website in Thai. “In Thailand, people still prefer bank transfers,” Vasa explains. “Credit card penetration isn’t very high, and not everyone knows how to pay online. People would rather walk into a bank or ATM booth and transfer money into another person’s account. We accommodate this and localize this experience for buyers and freelancers.”

3. Fastwork prioritizes quality over quantity

With other freelancing platforms, you could hire an inexperienced freelancer who barely knows how to do anything or an expert in his/her field. Fastwork has a hiring process that makes sure that all of their freelancers are above average—you won’t be hiring any lemons here. They currently have 4,000 freelancers, but they’ve had more than 50,000 applicants.

Apart from national ID cards and a portfolio, they ask for letters of recommendations from companies (most of their freelancers are moonlighters), schools, and certificates of graduation. “We also check if their work is actually theirs or if they’ve stolen it from somewhere, which is actually quite common,” says Vasa. If they need to get more information about a potential freelancer, they even interview to see if everything checks out.

“Most people who hear this say that this is too much and it’s not worth it,” says Vasa. “But freelancers who stay and get through on Fastwork are guaranteed a job in less than seven days, because clients know that we have quality talent. We would rather have five freelancers who get 10 jobs each week than 50 freelancers who get one job a month.”