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A new startup in Clarendon is riding the wave of workers who took the freelancing plunge this year due to the pandemic.
CareerGig (3100 Clarendon Blvd), which officially started operating in July, provides to freelancers the health and retirement benefits that a full-time employee might enjoy, and triple-verifies the qualifications of freelancers for companies that lack the time and resources to do deep dives themselves.
And CareerGig founder Greg Kihlström recently received confirmation that his idea could be profitable.
Last week, CareerGig participated in the Newchip Accelerator’s Online Demo Week, a three-day global online event that allows invited startups to present their companies to potential investors. Being recognized by Newchip will make it easier for CareerGig to raise money, he said.
Like platforms such as UpWork, CareerGig helps freelancers find work, but primarily the company provides independent contractors with health, life and disability insurance, vision and dental coverage, retirement plans and paid time off.
“I’ve been freelancing since the late ’90s,” Kihlström said. “What we saw lacking was how do independents take care of the rest of their lives.”
Additionally, from a company’s perspective, the way freelancers are verified is broken in many ways, he said.
“LinkedIn is great, but there are a lot of inaccuracies, because you only include the things that make you attractive,” he said.
CareerGig verifies potential workers by confirming a potential hire’s claims through a third party, such as a reference, as well as through independent, objective means, including skills assessments. That is where CareerGig excels, Kihlström said.
The founder predicts more people will be making the decision to work remotely, and possibly freelance, after getting a taste of work-from-home life during the coronavirus shutdowns.
Before the pandemic, research from Upwork predicted that 50% of workers in the United States would be freelancing by 2027, up from 36% in 2017. This past year, more than 2 million people started freelancing, according to a new Upwork study.
“We’ve been doing remote work long enough to form habits,” Kihlström said. “If this had gone on for 3 weeks, world would have returned to normal, but we’ve been doing this for nine months, and we’ve established habits.”
Although his team is spread throughout the country, Kihlström lives in Arlington and the company is headquartered here. He said he has a longstanding relationship with Arlington Economic Development.
“I’ve found Arlington to be very supportive of startups,” he said. “It’s a good place to be located.”
The team of 12 (plus contractors) will be growing over the next couple of months, Kihlström said.