Chandrika Pasricha had worked as a consultant for over 20 years including more than a decade at McKinsey & Co. in international and domestic assignments when she decided to take a career break.
Not quite ready to take a full-time role and seeking more control of her life, Pasricha tried to engage in well-paying freelance consulting opportunities, a quest that turned out to be so challenging – yet ultimately rewarding – that she decided to create a platform to connect experienced professionals such as herself with promising freelance opportunities.
"Being independent gave me much more control to balance work with other priorities," she told HuffPost India. I saw from my own experience that people want control."
In 2012, she turned matchmaker for companies looking for experienced management professionals, launching Flexing It, which today connects 23,000 consultants and professionals with over 1,500 companies across various industries.
Being an Internet-based platform, Flexing It is already focused on international expansion – it recently launched an office in Singapore and plans to increase its presence further into South East Asia, including countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, said Pasricha, Flexing It's Founder and CEO.
The company differentiates itself against other emerging freelance platforms like Freelancer.com by targeting experienced professionals and consultants for strategic roles. It does so by using an algorithm to match consultants with companies, with parameters like feedback from previous employers, experience, and location. Its typical consultant has an average of eight years of experience, for instance, said Pasricha.
Most of its consultants tend to be young parents, mothers looking for flexibility, entrepreneurial-minded freelancers, and specialists looking to work on a variety of projects, said Pasricha. Its typical projects include strategic initiatives, classic marketing strategy, business planning support, financial forecasting, IT services, and companies looking for analytical help when expanding into new geographies, among other projects. The projects range from a few hours to a year with an average of three months.
The company is also trying to fundamentally change how freelancers get paid.
For instance, it has recently launched 'FeeBee,' a compensation benchmarking tool that allows professionals to find out what their peers charge for similar projects in their area of specialisation -- a common problem faced by freelancers. And its 'experts-on-call' service is designed to helping companies hire help on a short-term basis, even a few hours, she noted.
New Delhi-based Flexing It was bootstrapped until late last year and raised about $500,000 in funding from angel investors earlier this year with the goal to bolster its marketing and business development efforts, noted Pasricha.
Pasricha wouldn't share the company's current sales figures but added it hopes to become a $40 million to $50 million business in the next four to five years.
"The goal is to reach profitability in the next year," said Pasricha.
While freelancing is fairly popular in the West, in India, traditional mindsets towards freelancing often tend to dominate the work culture.
However, that is changing, she said, noting that for a long time freelancers were perceived to be people who could not get full-time jobs.
"The Asian mindset is a bit conservative...but certainly that is changing rapidly," said Pasricha, adding that there is a lot more openness now among both companies and professionals.
In India, multinational companies are leading that charge bringing project-based and part-time opportunities for professionals, especially for women. Many of them have set diversity goals that require a shift in the approach to hiring. The cost benefits for short-term engagement are also not lost on these employers. Flexing IT lists Deloitte, BBC, Unilever and GE among its clients.
Internationally, the market size for online freelancing is estimated to grow to $4.4 billion in 2016, noted Pasricha. Similar trends are expected to play out in the Indian market.
Many corporations are keen on getting "fresh perspectives" and the latest thinking from outside their organisations and don't wish to be limited by geography.