This week, we’re thrilled to interview Matt Brown about his startup Bonsai. An all-in-one freelancing solution, Bonsai offers tools to help freelancers tackle contracts, proposals, invoices, and other pesky admin tasks.
Matt and his co-founder Matt Nish freelanced throughout their college years and realised there’s nothing less exciting than drawing up a comprehensive legal document — while also trying to design/develop/create the project you were originally hired for.
So they joined Y Combinator’s Winter 2016 batch and set about taking the stress out of being your own boss.
We chatted with Matt about how Bonsai handles the operational side of freelancing, their roadmap and vision for the Future of Work.
1. So what are some of the biggest hassles for freelancers that Bonsai helps to solve?
The most successful freelancers often aren’t the best at their craft (design, development, etc). Instead, the most successful freelancers excel at running a business (marketing themselves, negotiating with clients, creating contracts, getting paid on time).
Bonsai automates all of these non-core, back-office tasks so freelancers can focus on their craft and still get paid on time.
2. You have over 40,000 freelancers using your tools. In which regions do you see the greatest growth in demand from freelancers?
Right now it’s mostly English speaking countries (US, UK, Canada, & Australia) since we haven’t localized the product into different languages.
We’re also getting a lot of use from digital nomads; people who are working outside of the countries they’re originally from.
3. Many of your tools involve legal elements. How would you like to see current US legislation improved to support freelancers?
The two biggest areas of concern and confusion I see are around getting paid on time and on taxes. Legislation could be improved to provide freelancers more options if their clients fail to pay.
The tax code is also incredibly complex for all Americans, and this complexity makes tax filing too difficult for freelancers as both individuals and businesses.
4. What’s next on Bonsai’s roadmap?
Lots coming out that we’re super excited about!
We have totally new mobile and desktop apps coming in early 2018. We’re also working on more tools to help freelancers better understand and manage their money.
5. What’s your vision for the Future of Work?
I’m a bit biased, but I think the future is [moving towards] one-person, specialist businesses that are location-independent.
Thanks to the internet, people can learn new skills, find clients, and work from anywhere in the world. There are more and more tools (like Bonsai) to help them run those businesses, and more content and mentors to show this path is possible.