January 25, 2021 Using Blockchain to Build a New Kind of Freelance Platform with Hugo Finkelstein

Uprisor is the Future of Work podcast, and today’s episode features Hugo Finkelstein, Co-founder and CEO of Rise, a digital freelance marketplace focused on design and content writing. Hugo has a fascinating background, specifically in blockchain and the ways that it’s applied. He talks with Topcoder VP Clinton Bonner about how edge technologies are shaping freelance talent platforms, and why cryptocurrencies can be a powerful tool that open up opportunities for freelancers.

From APARTMENT Furniture to Marketing for Blockchain 

Hugo’s origin story with the sharing and the gig economy began in college. He and his roommates had a problem: they couldn’t sell all the furniture they had acquired throughout the year, so they created a platform where students could sell their secondhand products to other students. After college, Hugo started working in the blockchain/crypto space, in an agency that focused on helping other businesses and blockchain projects achieve their ICO (initial coin offering, essentially an IPO with cryptocurrencies). That experience taught him about the challenges and benefits of working with freelancers in the gig economy, which laid the foundation for his future endeavor launching Rise.


Rise is a talent network for designers and copywriters—people that produce visual or written content for marketing. Hugo describes what it was like to launch the business right as COVID hit in February and March of 2020. Engagement on their platform exploded, demand grew quickly, and everything accelerated as companies went fully remote. While startups adapted nimbly, enterprise companies have been slower to catch on. Still, Hugo says, “we’re seeing now that even large corporations, large organizations are hiring, and openly hiring from the freelance market, which is great.”


What makes Rise unique? They’ve infused blockchain technologies directly on the platform. Rise leverages smart contracts as part of their transaction processes between freelancers and clients. A smart contract is a piece of code that is deployed to the blockchain, and that piece of code can automatically execute events of an agreement or a contract between a buyer and a seller. Here’s where it gets even cooler: blockchain technology helps mitigate some of the more challenging issues of traditional 2-sided marketplaces: that ratings are extremely subjective to clients and customers emotions and opinions, especially in design and copywriting. On top of facilitating and securing the transactions, Rise leverages smart contracts  to measure some aspects of the collaboration.


The conversation wraps up with a discussion of where the gig economy and open talent platforms are headed next. Hugo says that workers are becoming free agents, and companies have to realize that. That means that when you’re hiring someone, you have to be aware that that person might be looking for another job, or another gig in the next few months. What’s the gap that exists for most companies at this point? As Hugo puts it, “We have to enable enterprises to create their own little pool of talent, and human clouds. We have to enable these human clouds and loyal communities and networks for specific skills, and have to find ways to implement them within these large organizations.”

For more conversations with futurists and technology leaders using on-demand talent, check out the Uprisor podcast.

“The future of work is democratized and global. And these technologies essentially facilitate this. Transactions cross border without third parties involved and extra layers. That’s exactly what these technologies were built for.” —Hugo Finkelstein

Annika Nagy


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