Startup Series: Likewise—creating better work for brands and creatives

Jordi Hays and Matt Jung, co-founders of Antler US portfolio company Likewise, know their way around e-commerce. Prior to Likewise, Jordi founded Branded Native, a creator ad network used by leading DTC brands. And over the span of fifteen years as a serial entrepreneur, Matt built companies in the consumer space like Wellen (acquired by Huckberry.com), Sonne Care, and Grover, while simultaneously consulting for Companion Medical (acq. by Medtronic), Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort, Esby Apparel, Fitness19, Western Rise, and FitScrubs, among others.

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"E-commerce is now completely dependent on creative talent at every single customer touch point: from web design to social, paid social, and email campaigns. E-commerce companies now rely on securing the right creative talent to engage customers, develop brand identity, and scale," says Jordi. And today digital agility is paramount: customers are increasingly shifting to online shopping in response to global lockdowns, and McKinsey reports an up to 40 percent net increase in intent to spend online post-COVID.

Jordi and Matt recognized that the existing legacy hiring process is fundamentally broken for hiring creatives to effectively support scaling e-commerce brands. And labor marketplaces, like Upwork, fall short when it comes to quality, accessibility, and speed. Likewise, a full stack work platform that connects highly-skilled freelancers with e-commerce companies, stands as an alternative, improving the creative process and work output. Oui the People, Keeps, and Outer are a sampling of the companies currently using Likewise.

Jordi explains, "Typically on marketplaces the talent is forced to bid on work, which drives prices down, so freelancers can't earn their normal rates on platforms. With Likewise, creatives are matched to work. This means freelancers set their own rates without fear of being undercut by someone else. And brands need a Likewise; generating creative assets is a massive bottleneck for growing e-commerce companies. Hiring the right talent is the biggest hurdle in that process."

Likewise focuses specifically on highly-skilled freelancers; the average creative on Likewise makes $100/hour. In its beta phase, the top 10 freelancers on Likewise earned over $300,000 in their first 6 months on the platform. On the demand side, Likewise primarily partners with elevated e-commerce companies that rely on exemplary creative work to establish brand identity and support marketing assets to drive conversion.

Jordi and Matt have designed Likewise as not only a platform, but also as a community that prioritizes the freelancer experience. "Likewise is the first platform that talent truly engages with: we are a source of high quality work and remove all of the draining administrative overheads that typically accompanies freelancing. We're starting to see a shift away from the 'gig economy' to an independent, robust 'freelance economy.' Likewise is at the forefront of this movement," said Matt.

Despite the pair's extensive experience building companies from scratch, Jordi and Matt wanted to work with Antler to scale quickly. Jordi says, "Working with Antler allowed us to move faster and focus on the things that really mattered in our business. Having the backing, support, and network of a larger organization and community of founders has helped with everything from informing product strategy to finding new customers."

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