When CEO Chris Toy launched MarketerHire, he began brainstorming what the future of work should look like. He had several definitions at the ready: Flexible. Fluid. Remote. On demand.
That was in 2019.
Today, the future that Toy envisioned has become an everyday reality — and MarketerHire’s AI-driven freelance marketplace is hitting its stride in a newly remote-leaning world. “On demand is a really powerful concept,” Toy said. “With MarketerHire, the goal was to take some cues from other important tech players like the streaming and transportation industries to achieve continuous innovation.”
As a previous consultant and ad agency owner, Toy had a firm understanding of the existing state of the marketing industry, but its trajectory didn’t match his vision for the future. With the goal of building a platform that helped companies and marketing talent instantly find each other — by matching a vetted talent pool with project demands — Toy was determined to change how both sides behaved long term.
“We don’t glorify being up until 2 a.m.,” Toy said. “If that’s how you achieve high performance, go for it. If you can do it in an hour and blow everyone away, go for it. If we can be clear about what high performance means, you can live wherever you want and work the hours you want as long as you’re a good teammate.”
It’s this belief system and the rejection of grind culture that has not only helped internal teams thrive in their own work, but rapidly multiply since 2020. Initially starting with a team of 30, MarketerHire has grown to a team of 100 full-time employees, which leadership plans to double this year.
RESHAPING THE INDUSTRY
With ambitious scaling plans and a ballooning list of clients, it could be easy for employees to get lost in the throes along the way. Speed and quality are often viewed as product traits comparable to oil and water: highly sought after individually, but seemingly impossible to bond. However, Recruiting Manager Nick Cooke isn’t only calm about taking on the challenge — he’s preemptively prepared.
“A lot of our job descriptions have 30-60-90 day roadmaps on them, because we always try to set a candidate up for success,” Cooke said. “At the end of the day, that individual is defining what that roadmap is and determining how they’re going to achieve those goals. Everybody here takes a lot of ownership in their work.”
“It feels like we’re back in the most fun part of the first six months, solving the day-by-day work across departments,” Toy added. “It should be a really exciting year — we’ve got so many big things that are going to launch a huge amount of growth for us.”
Built In sat down with Toy, Cooke and Product Manager Christian Biggs for an extended conversation.
Chris, how does working with big-name clients shape the work you strive to do? How does it impact what they’re able to accomplish?
Chris Toy: If you go to almost any company, the hiring process is basically the same way that people have tried to hire for for decades — job descriptions, process, people, referrals. With an on-demand product like ours, you don’t actually have to do any of that stuff: Hit a button and our platform will take care of it all for you, give you one person who’s ready to start Monday and you’re going to hire that person. It really speaks to how unique and needed our platform and our product is. If anyone has ever had to hire for marketing, that’s why it’s such a great category for us to be in and why I think marketing is undervalued as this apex industry.
Everyone now has to deal with marketing. If you went back 10 years to pre-internet maturity for businesses, you could have a coffee shop and not have to do marketing — you just open your doors. Now, you have to have an Instagram account, you have to maintain a Yelp page, you have to do some paid marketing with Google Maps. You have to be responsive because now everyone has access to the customers online and now everyone has to do competitive marketing.
What’s interesting is that the really big companies usually have exactly the same ask as the really small companies. Digital marketing has become this really big equalizer. The feedback we’ve gotten from these really large companies is that it’s been a game changer for them. A lot of companies come in the first time they’re using MarketerHire with a little bit of early skepticism that it’s too good to be true. “You’re just going to match me to someone in two days and I’m just going to hire that person because I'm going to be so impressed?” That sounds crazy. But by now, with a long roster of clients that we’ve been able to impress and the product is delivered for, it’s not crazy anymore.
How would you describe the culture at MarketerHire?
Toy: We’re 100 people now from the East and West Coasts, and everyone has the freedom to figure out what structure of work is best for them. I think our long-term approach is going to be less about rules but more about what makes sense for the people who work here. We’re hoping that gives everyone a feeling of respect and maturity in the working environment.
Nick Cooke: A lot of first-time hires and first-time roles have been made. They have to take on a lot of that personal ownership of “How am I going to push myself and this position forward? How can I make sure that MarketerHire is progressing along?” You take on ownership, embrace healthy competition and you don’t work on weekends or nights. You do your best and enjoy your life outside of that.
Christian Biggs: I think hiring is really the base of what makes a good culture. We’re bringing in some of the most intelligent, diverse and collaborative people I’ve ever worked with. That makes for an engaging, fun and challenging environment that we can all grow and learn from. I think, as a group, we push each other to learn and adapt and get better at what we do.
How has scaling teams impacted the work you’ve been able to accomplish since launching?
Toy: It’s about fit. You’re putting together a team that has to enjoy working together, let alone be productive — and that can be really difficult. We had a big surge of headcount growth towards the end of last year — almost a double headcount in a quarter — and that comes with a lot of risks and a lot of management requirements. How do we integrate all these new, awesome folks while doing good work? It’s a challenging time, but once we have all that done, we’ll get all the gains of outputs and thinking — and that’s exciting.
Biggs: As we scale the teams and grow the headcount, there is definitely the burn of onboarding that everyone has a bunch of knowledge transfer that we’re now responsible for. But at the same time, there’s a flip of a switch. Our capacity to do more immediately changes. We’re able to move much quicker, whether that’s from a tech or product standpoint in terms of engineering capacity, or picking up the range of different projects that we can support. There’s a lot more we can do once we unlock that key.
Cooke: That’s not only from an internal employee perspective — we also have internal teams that have grown dramatically that are now able to take care of our freelancers, or able to take care of our clients. The way that we have been scaling teams has been to think about how we grow as a company, but also how we support all of the other customers and freelancers of the platform so that we can grow together.
“The ultimate goal is to make sure a match is made with a freelance marketer who’s ready to start, and who’s interested within a couple of hours instead of a couple of days.”
What technology is an integral part of your tech stack and daily process? What kind of innovation has this led to for your marketplace?
Toy: For us, the fun part is being driven by AI and machine learning work in the back end. We’ve done tens of thousands of matches now — that’s a lot of data on what kinds of companies hire which kinds of marketers. We’ve made a very large investment in our data science and our artificial intelligence teams, and a lot of that work is now coming to fruition, which is super exciting. Very early on at launch, you don’t have enough data to do AI work, but we had a distinct proprietary approach to what jobs did; it was me doing the matches manually on day one. Now we have added this layer of machine learning and data science to determine which freelancers should be offered the job first because they’re a good match and they’re also more likely to accept.
The other part that we have that’s coming is an NLP, or natural language processing. We have a very conversational AI because we don’t have a point-and-click front end for users scrolling through and browsing. It’s all conversational with our platform over email, written briefs, written bios — a lot of that stuff is being increasingly generated by our AI model because it’s learning from tens of thousands of phone calls and emails to understand what makes a good match. What kind of details are important to certain kinds of hires? What kinds of details are what are interesting to certain kinds of marketers? We really have a product that’s going to be able to leverage a lot of what AI does really well.
Christian, you’ve been with the company since the beginning. How does MarketerHire set employees up for success?
Biggs: I think the biggest thing is probably the fact that everyone holds a key and has autonomy — more so today than early on. Everyone has such an integral part in our success, so we’ve identified a product that works and freelancers and clients love it. Executing and doing it well is vital, and it will continue to be important for us to succeed. The door’s always open to step across a line to a different part of the company and get your hands dirty where needed, or offer a unique perspective to something if you’re intellectually curious or wanting to learn a new skill. We also have other opportunities, such as master classes, demos from other teams, book clubs and more.
HELPING CLIENTS EXTEND THEIR REACH, REGARDLESS OF SIZE
Nick, with such ambitious hiring goals coming up, how are recruiting teams gearing up for the challenge?
Cooke: Right now, the market is pretty hot. But at the end of the day, what it really comes down to is speaking to candidates and letting them know what their future potential could look like. These are not cookie-cutter roles, and you get to work with a lot of really intelligent, sharp individuals. We’re connecting the dots between what hiring managers need and what a candidate needs because I think they’re both equally important.