In 2021, Independents joined Cohort 4 of the Accelerating Asia flagship 100 day program.
As part of our award-winning accelerator VC, Independents is eligible for investment from our early stage VC fund and access to resources, access and tools to fast-track growth. Apply now to join the Accelerating Asia portfolio
Founders: Khairah Rahim, Jatinder Sandhu, Weina Du
Home Market: Singapore
Clients: DBS, MullenLowe, Griffin Kinetic
Growth: +30% quarter on quarter
Currently raising: US$250,000
At Independents, we match world-class creative talent to marketing projects, because we believe better talent matching results in better marketing.
The problem that the marketing industry is currently facing due to digitisation is that marketers need to create smaller, more frequent & targeted marketing assets with smaller budgets.
But agencies are too expensive for these smaller projects and most freelance platforms give you quantity, but it’s too time consuming to find the right talent for each project’s needs.
At Independents, we match clients to the perfect creative talent for their project, so they can save up to 50% in costs compared to agencies and time with our 48 hour matching compared to other platforms.
How does the platform work?
At Independents, we’ve developed a unique human-centered approach to data analytics, focusing not just on skills and experience like other platforms, but also creative design and copy styles as well as team dynamics. So we can match the right people with the right industry experience, creative ability and the right profile to the exact requirements of each client’s marketing projects.
We onboard creative talent through the Independents portal which allows creatives to upload all of their experience, the places they’ve worked, their portfolio, any awards they’ve won and a little bit about themselves, whether they're writers, art directors, designers, strategists or digital marketers.
Then on the other side we have client onboarding, where the clients can create a profile, submit a brief for a project including the type of campaign, for example social media, their budget and other project deliverable requirements.
All of it comes together to deliver our clients with the best creative talent they need to complete their projects with the best chance of success.
What makes Independents unique?
Until Independents came along, if you were a client looking for creative talent, you could either go to an agency where you’re paying for those expensive overhead fees. Or you go to the Fiverss or the UpWorks, and you get individual people. We found SMEs, start up or even bigger clients really don't have the time or know-how to judge the creative quality on offer.
Independents selects world-class talent based on human centered data-points assessing skills, creative ability and team dynamics to provide the most extensive filtering and matching for the marketing industry.
We really focus on bringing on board people who have the right expertise, the right skill set to really match the specific needs of each client’s brief, so they're getting a much better chance of creating quality marketing assets. A creative or marketing talent on Independents has on average seven years of experience in their respective fields.
THE MARKET & TRACTION
What is the current state of the market and industry?
The current climate with covid and also the increasing trend of freelancers coming on board, plus the downsizing of top agencies, has resulted in that pipeline of amazing talent who came from such great agencies and who have done such impactful work.
They're currently looking to be connected directly to brands but they don't have the means to do so or, you know, the necessary networking skills to do. So, this is where Independents come in. All three of us believe very strongly about changing the future of remote working. And it's something that we think will define and create a more equitable world.
We’re connecting the dots. We're using our domain expertise to solve a problem that we see as very real in terms of the low quality that's being produced. And with the current climate in our expertise, we really think we can solve this.
Who are some of the clients you work with?
We work with brand clients ranging from big MNCs to SMEs as well as advertising agencies. We recently worked on a project with DBS, a real estate association and a few start-ups & local designer brands as well.
Also we work closely with advertising agencies because they’ve downsized in-house teams and have found the need for on-demand talent needs for projects that come on, so that has also been another side of our clientele.
Are you currently fundraising?
We’re currently fundraising USD250K to turbocharge our growth and build our platform to seamlessly match talents to marketing projects
We've seen that there is traction, a lot of demand and it is a proven model in many markets like the US and Europe.
We really want to use this fundraising opportunity to expand our reach and grow our pipeline. We also want to build our platform in order for us to scale and automate features across the board from project management, client onboarding and more.
In terms of numbers, we're only six months old and we've had ~$100K in revenue, and have onboarded over 165 world-class creatives and marketers. We see great potential in transforming the marketing industry, as it’s estimated to hit $550b by 2025.
THE FOUNDER JOURNEY
Why did you start Independents?
We’re really trying to solve a problem in the industry. Advertising business models have become outdated since digital technology has taken off and it’s really changed the market completely.
It used to be the case that clients spent much bigger budgets for specific campaigns that would last a year but now they actually require much smaller campaigns, almost continuously.
More bite-sized, customised campaigns.
It’s a lot of targeted digital media content and that's created a problem for agencies because the smaller budgets have actually reduced the outlook and there's no longer retainer fees.
Things in the industry have become more project based, it's now harder for agencies to really plan out their departments and how many people they need. There's been a lot of merging and downsizing and there's now a lot of high-quality, talented freelancers available on the market.
Despite all these changes within agencies, clients still find agencies really slow, far too expensive and really the whole process is a little bit outdated. This old agency approach is not really providing clients with smaller budgets, the value they’re looking for today.
Tell us about your Founder journey?
Weina: I’ve been working in talent matchmaking for quite some time. I was a data scientist working in big corporations, but I decided I wanted to do something more impactful and initiate something with the cool models. That's why I became an entrepreneur and my first company was also matchmaking for talent. That didn’t work out but it inspired me to focus talent matching on a more niche field. When I met Jit and Khairah we came together over a joint passion for matchmaking talent in the marketing and advertising industry.
From my first startup, that’s actually how I got to know about Accelerating Asia, we applied to join the last cohort, so I met all the founders – like Craig, Nesh, Amra and many mentors and the conversations were helpful. We spoke to a few people in the ecosystem and they all spoke highly of Accelerating Asia’s program, and founders could benefit a lot from the broad network of founders, investors and mentors.
Khairah: For me, I've always been on the client side as a marketer so I understand very much the pain points of working with uninspired agencies and freelancers from other platforms. Although honestly it’s been a dream to work with the likes of the big agencies who are known for producing great quality work but it's not something that is accessible to many. Even when I was in an MNC it wasn't accessible. So I really see a gap in the market and an area in which we can have an impact on the industry and future of work.
Jit: I've spent 20 years in the advertising industry, from London, Hong Kong and now Singapore. What I really saw in the last few years was how the creative industry’s business model has been disrupted. As budgets decrease, creative departments are becoming stretched and the value of great work that we as agencies try to deliver for clients, is becoming harder and harder. Mainly because agencies have had to downsize and are now under-resourced, while having to create more assets, so it’s become a lot harder to focus on delivering the creative excellence they strive for. So as the marketing business model continues to shrink, the old model has become unsustainable. So we knew we had to try something different and be part of the change that can find a better way to support the creative industry and create great work.
When we came together we all found we brought something unique to the table and we all found our own niche where we could help influence our journey in a positive way.
INDEPENDENTS AND ACCELERATING ASIA
Why are you excited to be a part of Accelerating Asia?
We’ve found our Accelerating Asia journey to be a great balance of support, guidance and networking. Because it feels like the team really tailor makes the program around how we're trying to grow as well as introducing us to top investors that share our vision as well.
We also found Accelerating Asia super helpful in helping us focus on certain potential growth areas, by really looking at our business and helping us chart a path that’s unique to our growth. The start-up experience of the team has also helped us avoid common mistakes and given us the right connections, experience and advice to help us scale as fast as we can and create maximum impact in our industry.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to a fellow founder thinking of joining Accelerating Asia?
Being start-up founders is hard enough as it is, but one of the biggest challenges is being able to see the problems you face from different perspectives.
It’s very common to get stuck in your usual way of thinking about things. What’s been invaluable about the journey on Accelerating Asia, is not just leaning on the mentors for help and advice but also learning directly from our cohort as they navigate and overcome challenges similar to your own.
Top 3 takeaways so far from the Accelerating Asia program?
The more open you are on the programme the more you’ll learn about your business.
Focus on metrics that really matter to your business to find the best growth tactics.
There’s a great network of investors to meet and learn from.
Independents was selected for Cohort 4 of our flagship 100 day program. During our last recruitment round Accelerating Asia received 500 applications from 30 countries and we have with 2000+ startups per year.
If you’re interested in connecting with Independents, investing alongside us, meeting our portfolio companies, or just generally interested in talking to us about startup investing, please reach out and tell us a little bit about yourself.
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