NEXTFREE | James McQuarrie
Hey James. Good to meet you - What's NEXTFREE?
NEXTFREE is a simple service that helps contractors and freelancers share their availability with the world so we can help connect them with the right work opportunities at the right time.
That sounds interesting. How does it work?
Contractors can apply to join us, for free, and create a very lightweight profile that details their name, area of expertise, locations where they'll work and when they'll next be available for new project work. Recruiters and Hiring Managers can use our recruitment tools to search and track the availability of our members.
What feedback have you had?
The majority of our members love the service (we've got a 90%+ retention rate) and the Recruiters and Hiring Managers who've used the service always comment on the quality of our membership.
Any issues or challenges? How did you overcome them?
It's extremely hard to build any marketplace service and NEXTFREE is no exception. Trying to balance the supply and demand sides of a marketplace is an art, and one that we have yet to master. Through trial and error we've found a process that seems to work for us, and we are constantly looking for ways to improve what we're doing.
What aspect of the business are you most proud of?
I'm proud to be able to help our members find new work when they need it, but while we help make introductions to the right people at the right time, they're winning the work, so we can't take the credit for that!
What did you do before this?
My background is in UX and Product Management Consultancy. I've worked with numerous startups and multinationals for over 15 years, helping them build the right solutions and experiences for their customers.
Why have you taken this direction?
NEXTFREE was born to scratch my own itch. As a Contractor myself I found it frustrating that there was no easy way to share when I'd be available for new projects with all the different clients, colleagues and recruiters who I knew would be interested. My business partner was contracting at the time and had the same problem, so we clubbed together and built NEXTFREE. It snowballed from there as more and more of our friends and colleagues wanted to use it.
Who is James outside of work?
Dad to an 18 month old son, so limited time outside of work for much other than entertaining him. I try to stay fit by cycling regularly. I'm lucky that I can ride mainly on dedicated bike tracks which makes it safe to listen to podcasts / news / books while riding which is about the only time I get to 'read' these days.
What do you see as the next phase for NEXTFREE?
We've recently launched a contract project board (think 'jobs board' but exclusively for contract opportunities) at our sister site nextfree.uk. It's still in Beta, but is a direct response to feedback from our members about how can could best help them with all the changes that have been happening in the contract world of work in the UK recently. So far our members love how it works, so the future of the business may be to more tightly integrate the project board with our availability service.