Finding Workers via the Cloud

You’ve probably heard of a business crowd-sourcing to raise enough cash to get off the ground. But one startup is actually using the power of the crowd to connect high-skilled workers with companies in need of manpower, essentially crowd-sourcing a workforce.

MobileWorks, founded by CEO Anand Kulkarni, is used by 70 different companies around the globe--including big names like Xerox and eBay, and connects them remotely to more than 20,000 workers with the skills needed for contract projects. In the past three years, the company has raised $2 million, and is growing quickly, between 20% and 100% month-over-month, Kulkarni says.

Kulkarni, formerly a researcher at UC Berkeley, said the idea for the company came after he noticed a rise in global access to low-cost, high-bandwidth Internet connections, at the same time so many people were out of work.

“We started out primarily abroad, and then came to the U.S., bringing people together to find work online via their mobile phone and Internet connections,” Kulkarni says.

And he says as more companies are moving their infrastructure to the cloud, the more it makes sense for the workforce to follow suit.

“This is the next logical step,” he says, of hiring a mobile workforce. “Companies are finding they need more flexibility than just hiring folks in their own backyards. If they find someone who is really talented, and willing to work 10-to-20 hours a week, they can hire that staffer no matter where they are in the world.”

But not just any worker with an Internet connection makes the cut, Kulkarni warns. The company gives a series of aptitude tests to those who apply, and then matches their skill sets up with companies in need. One of the company’s founding principles, he says, is paying better wages for workers.

“In the outsourcing industry, so many people are trying to squeeze out every last dollar from workers, which means lower quality work and less happiness among the folks doing the work,” he says. “We try to enforce standards within our system.”

The company today works with smaller tech companies, many of which are in its own backyard in Silicon Valley, he says. But in the next year, MobileWorks wants to seek out smaller companies across the country, many of which are in the hiring phase.

“We want to figure out a way to push into Middle America,” he says. “We need to find out how to staff folks who are not in Silicon Valley, who are not up-to-date with the latest and greatest in crowd sourcing.”