I'm privileged and honored to be the Chief Marketing Officer for Collective
, a Fintech startup that is on a mission to redefine the way businesses-of-one work.
I'm from a charming village on the west coast of Ireland and to this day, I feel most at ease when I'm at home in Galway. The community's hospitality, exhibited in the most humble of manners - a warm welcome, a genuine smile, a thoughtful question, or deliberate acknowledgment - is enough to replenish and restore my soul.
There's a saying in Irish, "Céad Míle Fáilte." Its literal translation is "one hundred thousand welcomes", or "you are welcome, a thousand times, wherever you come from, whosoever you be." How delightful is that? The beauty of Irish hospitality is more in its subtlety and humility than it is in any specific act itself. Success in Ireland is all about how you contribute to your family and community, and whether I was helping out in town as a kid or working away in the office today, that definition of success has never wavered for me. The values instilled in me from my family and community have stayed with me as I’ve navigated corporate America over the past decade.
I've been incredibly fortunate throughout my career to have worked for some of the most iconic global brands in the world - Revlon, L'Oreal, and Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH), as well as having my own digital marketing agency, Brand Nua. The common thread between all these powerhouse brands is that community was a central part of their brand DNA. Fostering devoted communities is the ultimate goal for brands, as having a strong community isn’t just a way to differentiate your brand — it’s a way to transcend your industry. Consumers want to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves and this is what brings me my biggest joy every day - developing meaningful communities that add value to people's lives.
Now I am helping bring that sense of community and camaraderie to a whole new segment of our workforce—the self-employed.
Coming Together Through Collective
Building a wide personal network is never a bad business strategy, and self-employed workers know this better than anyone. With my commitment to community throughout my personal and professional life, I’ve been able to expand and work with my network in ways that have exponentially propelled me forward in life. In fact, my network is exactly what got me where I am today—though not in the way you’d expect.
My boss, Hooman Radfar, and I come from very different backgrounds. Hooman is a serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur and venture capitalist and I am a global marketing executive, but we found common ground in that we are both immigrants, and immediately connected and cultivated a mentee-like relationship. We never had the distinct intention of working together, but we both shared similar values and outlook on life. This just goes to show that you should never narrow the scope of who you’re building a community with.
It wasn’t until Hooman was launching a business with two fellow immigrants, Ugur Kaner and Bugra Akcay, that the perfect opportunity to work together presented itself. Leaning into your community is one of the key facets of immigrant life, and Hooman, Ugur, and Bugra wanted to create something to bring together the most underserved segment of workers in the US: solopreneurs. As if being an immigrant in America wasn’t hard enough, almost a quarter
of all self-employed people are immigrants. So why should it be harder than it already is?
To address this need in the market, Hooman, Ugur, and Bugra set up the first online back office designed for businesses-of-one. And thus, Collective
was born. They brought me on to lead marketing and communications. Our mission is simple - redefine the way businesses-of-one work, so the self-employed can focus on their passion, and not their paperwork.
We launched a few weeks ago, but so far, it's been a super fun ride!
The Largest Underserved Segment of the US Workforce
Self-employment isn’t a completely new phenomenon; it was already surging pre-COVID-19, but now it's accelerating even faster. The self-employed make up 35% of the US workforce.
Communities of the self-employed have been organically coming together for some time, but we want to be the company that propels people forward and lets them focus on their passion, not their paperwork. As a business-of-one, without the support of typical office structures - with taxes, accounting, company formation, etc. - it can be easy to feel lost or overwhelmed. Our mission is to champion and support self-employed workers by creating a seamless solution specifically tailored to their unique needs. A solution that allows them to save time and money while connecting them to a community of other members.
COVID, Community, and the Future of Self-employment
As with the future of all work, COVID will play a significant role in how the self-employment industries continue to evolve. Many people have been negatively impacted by the current pandemic, but for a lot of self-employed people, the future looks bright. Just take a look at the numbers! Self-employed job postings grew 41%
year over year in Q2 as more companies are now opting for consultants rather than full-time employees - especially in industries like marketing. And the beauty of it all, by leveraging technology and outsourcing to build efficient businesses, many of these people are making more money while working less. Most importantly, they have the freedom and flexibility any worker in this digital-first business world longs for.
Whether you’re considering moving to the self-employed space, looking for a new role, or staying the course at your current company, we all need to adjust to the current circumstances. With that in mind, there are some critical things you can do right now that can be incredibly meaningful to developing and strengthening your community network:
Now more than ever, we all need to be leaning into our network and communities. As for me, having a role in a mission-driven company that allows me to build a meaningful community for the most deeply underserved entrepreneurs in the US, is what gets me up in the morning.