This is a look into the true success story of Fiverr, a marketplace for digital services that started as an idea by two Israeli founders back in 2009. Fiverr has since grown to be one of the most active marketplaces in the world, with roughly 25 million transactions on the platform since launching in 2010.
To give you an insider’s look into this successful startup company — one that has raised $110 million to date — we’ve interviewed Sharon Steiner — Fiverr’s vice president of human resources. Steiner has been with Fiverr for over three and a half years. Her team is in charge of all HR aspects of the company including (but certainly not limited to) recruiting, cultivating and maintaining company culture, organizational development and structure and employee implementation and retention. The HR team at Fiverr is driven by the company’s business goals and is highly involved in the company’s decision-making.
Question: What exactly does Fiverr do?
Answer: Fiverr is an online marketplace for digital creative services. Our sellers offer everything — and I mean everything — from voice over work and audio engineering to graphic design and application programming. It’s a broad marketplace with over 100 categories, so if you have a creative talent or skill, you can bet that someone is looking for your services on Fiverr.
Q: What’s Fiverr’s unique advantage for both freelancers and the people hiring them?
A: When we think about the challenges facing freelancers, it’s important to remember that 97% of them still operate offline, leaving a large percentage still using traditional methods to run their businesses. This is a huge opportunity for us for a number of reasons.
First, the environment of freelancers operations requires a lot of work beyond their actual skill set. They have to find and retain customers, negotiate contracts, handle invoicing and billing… It’s quite a bit of overhead effort to run a small business. Fiverr solves many of these aspects for them.
On the buyer side, 75% of our customers are small businesses. They’re not experts on graphic design or video editing. They just know they need the service to grow their business. We enable them to pay a price that’s within their budget for very professional work.
Because Fiverr is organized like an e-commerce site with a catalog buying experience, finding and purchasing services is much simpler than traditional creative service platforms.
Just like Fiverr freelancers don’t have the time to track down new business, Fiverr customers don’t have the time to sift through freelance forums to find the services they need.
Q: Could you elaborate a bit on the catalog buying experience?
A: Let’s say, for example, that a buyer wants to do an audio clip for his or her website. They recognize that they need a professional-sounding voice over artist to make the clip worthwhile. So they go to the voice over category on Fiverr. There they get to choose whether they want a male or a female voice over artist. They can choose from different accents, in much the same way you would choose the style and color of a new shirt on an e-commerce site.
It makes it simple for the buyer. The fact that you can see a sample of the seller’s work and that the price is set turns the service into a product. It removes a lot of friction and makes negotiation redundant while aligning expectations. It just makes it easier for both sides.
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Q: Fiverr started out with a mandatory $5 per gig threshold — which gave it its name. You’ve recently announced you’re changing it. Has this move been successful for you?
A: Yes! We’ve successfully launched our new pricing structure that allows for sellers to offer more complex and comprehensive services. We started implementing it a few months ago and have received great feedback We’re in the process of implementing it for all categories.
Q: How will this affect the marketplace?
A: As our marketplace grew, we saw that both sellers and buyers wanted to do more with it. There was a demand for more complex and comprehensive services from buyers. The new pricing enables sellers to fulfill this demand and increase their income by doing so. It also makes for an improved buying experience by answering the more advanced needs of buyers without additional back and forth and demands for customization.
Q: What was Fiverr’s greatest success in the 2015?
A: First of all growth. Since 2010, Fiverr has had roughly 25 million transactions on our marketplace. A third of those took place in 2015, and we’re looking at nearly one million transactions a month at this point. That makes us one of the most transacted marketplaces in the world. This has translated into triple digit growth year over year, which makes it a really great time to be at Fiverr! The second big success has been the launch of the new pricing. As I mentioned, the feedback has been fantastic from the community and we’re very much looking forward to continuing to build on our marketplace.
Q: What has been the HR’s biggest success in 2015?
A: Our biggest success is our awesome employee-retention rate. We have a lot of employees completing their second and third year with the company. Employees say they enjoy waking up in the morning and coming to work for a company that’s changing people’s lives.
Q: What tools and methods does Fiverr use to manage its HR?
A: The tool is dapulse and the way we use it, is as a two-directional tool. The first direction is pull. In other words, we use it to get updated. We read it and that’s how we know what’s going on in the company. You see, in many companies the operational units are not that aware of what’s going happening on a daily basis. Because everyone uses dapulse to update on their everyday work at Fiverr, all we have to do is read. So at the end of each day, for about 30-60 minutes, we read and we stay in the loop.
The second direction is push. We use it to announce new employees and special occasions. We don’t use emails at Fiverr. Instead, we have a section on dapulse called HR Kiosk. It also includes all the information new employees need. Like a convocation video, an HR section, an Operation section, an IT section. These have everything new employees need to know from day one.
Q: What type of information does the HR Kiosk include?
A: Who does what. At Fiverr we use a task force model. Each task force has its own product manager, developers etc. And each task force has its own initiatives, KPIs and so on. So the HR section lists those task forces, along with names and what they do. It’s a home for institutional knowledge, and it’s highly accessible.
Q: To what extent do you feel this helps new employees hit the ground running?
A: Tremendously. First of all, they see faces. Faces, names, titles that lead them to information. The fact that all the updates people post on to dapulse stay documented and are searchable helps too. If they hear a name or some expression, or some subject they want to read more about, they just search for it on dapulse and read everything that’s been said and done on that subject.
About 18 months ago, we also started using hashtags on dapulse. So now if someone wants to know everything about #sellers, they just search that hashtag.
Q: What’s another way the company as a whole uses dapulse?
A: We use it a lot for our global communication. The team at our headquarters can sit together, meet at over lunch, get up and walk to each other’s desk. But it’s fantastic for communicating with our global offices, in New York, Chicago and Miami and remote workers in various locations.
** This interview was transcribed by Fiverr seller emilygreen17).