May 31, 2021 Talent Speaks: Inside the Modern Freelance Lifestyle with Topcoder Member Luis Millán

In each installment of the Uprisor: The Future of Work Podcast, Topcoder’s VP of Marketing Clinton Bonner chats with tech and business leaders about the future of work. This week’s episode is truly special. Clinton talks to Luis Millán, a Venezuela-based UI/UX designer who has been part of the Topcoder global community for nearly a decade.

Luis shares his experience as a Topcoder community member, what the future of work looks like from his unique vantage point, and the benefits and experiences the gig economy has brought to his life.

freedom and Flexability as a freelancer

Luis relocated to Venezuela in recent years, but it’s hardly the first stop in his globally nomadic lifestyle. Before Venezuela, he’s spent time in countries as varied as Columbia, Argentina, Spain and France. For Luis and other gig economy workers, this modern workforce lifestyle — untethered from the restraints of your traditional 9-to-5 — is inspired by factors like:

  • Becoming more aware that life is short, and so much of our time can become dominated by work.
  • Craving a wiser and healthier use of time. Instead of decompressing by browsing the internet or watching TV, Luis’ lifestyle allows him to explore whatever new country he’s in.
  • A desire to learn from new experiences in new cultures and places.

This lifestyle is only possible when you detach yourself from the norms of deeply entrenched work culture, and you find ways to make your work part of a more free, more liberated approach to life itself. The gig economy lets people like Luis do exactly that.

“I am a fierce believer that there are things no book can teach you, that you can gift for your own experience. I consider myself a constant learning machine. I can learn anything.” —Luis Millán

Collaboration and Community in the Gig economy

Many view the gig economy and the life of a freelancer as very isolated. After all, many platforms tend to keep clients and the workers very separate. According to Luis, his success in this modern, innovative workforce is in part due to the sense of community, collaboration and transparency he’s experienced by being a part of the Topcoder community.

For those who want to follow in his footsteps, he notes that:

Luis at TCO 2019
  • Community is key – connecting and collaborating with fellow gig workers allows freelancers to share their experiences and learn from each others’ skills.
  • Connecting directly with clients – allows gig workers to be more embedded and more proactive in solving problems, creating solutions, and bringing innovation to companies that use open talent.
  • The ideal platform– is guided not just by the company’s goals but also the goals, feedback, and experiences of the freelancers that do the work.

“Something that I really like about Topcoder is that the foundations of its existence is community-based. Topcoder is one of the few platforms that really exposes the members to the customers as talent.” —Luis Millán

life as a topcoder copilot

Luis’ journey at Topcoder led him from competing as a designer to becoming a Copilot—a skilled member of the community who serves as a PM and intermediary. Copilots help craft initial challenge specs, communicate project timelines, and monitor a challenge once it is live to answer questions.

Copilots are vital, and the role requires:

  • Good communication skills and demeanor with both customers and community members
  • Being responsive to proactively keep the customer up to date with progress
  • Fostering a collaborative atmosphere that’s less about one person “winning” and more about ensuring a client gets the best possible outcomes
  • Ability to scope projects and translate customer requirements into a good, clear challenge spec
  • Ability to foresee and manage dependencies

Thank you, Luis, for sharing the backstory of why you transitioned to this new workforce lifestyle and what this revolutionary approach has meant for you both personally and professionally. For additional insightful guidance on the intersection of innovation, business and technology, check out the rest of the episodes of the Uprisor Podcast.

“For the community, I can see myself as a translator. I translate requirements into a brief and a language that designers can understand. To the client, I see myself simply as a server who helps them connect to the best possible talent.” —Luis Millán

Annika Nagy


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