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It’s our birthday and we can cry if we want to!

That’s right folks, you heard us correctly. Freeflow Services Inc. is turning 1 year old. To celebrate our birthday we are going to share our origin story so you can see how much we have grown over these 365 days of bliss.

We are proud to say that Freeflow has supported 85 developers to earn a combined $1.5M from 400 projects to this day! You are probably wondering how we got here. Let’s go back in time.

Freeflow, Cake, Birthday, Startup, 1 year

Remote - Ideation Days

In the depths of the pandemic, 3 friends, Berk Serbetcioglu, Ramiro Sugranes, and Alejandro Gonzalez (Gonzo for short) would bounce ideas off of each other. They had this organized google sheet with ideas that were color-coded in a clean gradient representing the legitimacy of the problem they were solving and the solution itself. Ideas spanned from Roomba sharing and printer sharing (a printer company in 2021….???? 🤔), remote working solutions, and so many more.

Biweekly calls became weekly calls became every other day calls. The three of them decided to team up and bring one of these ideas to life, see what happens! Gonzo, Berk, and Ramiro were all working in full-time roles so when building out their first idea they needed support from a UI/UX designer, which is when I joined in.

The idea Berk, Ramiro, and Gonzo decided to work on was called Remote Work Perk. Since it was feeling like remote work was there to stay, there needed to be some innovation into ways to make your employees feel special and part of the team. Something as simple as a birthday cake being shipped to you on your birthday from your employer added a much-needed feeling of togetherness despite being stuck home. Lydia worked on the site and Berk, Ramiro, and Gonzo reached out to companies to see who might be interested.

The insights gained from user-interviews were that there were more pressing issues with their remote work setups, like scheduling meetings and meeting organization in general. So the team decided to look into some of the common complications with time management. By this point, Berk had recruited his brother Derin and me to join in on the product development alongside Ramiro and himself (our pal Gonzo focused on his full-time role instead).

Remote Work Perk was tabled and Sometime.ai was born. Our biggest learning from user-interviews during Remote Work Perk was that with the new age of remote work and virtual meetings it was extremely hard to find the heads-down time. It was too easy to schedule back-to-back meetings all day. Sometime.ai’s goal was to programmatically adjust your schedule to have longer periods of uninterrupted deep work time. We ran with this idea for a while- and continued to build.

San Francisco - Basement Airbnbs and Applications

Berk and I flew to San Fransisco to visit Derin and spend some time in the Bay Area. Spending a few days in Menlo Park where Derin was living at the time and then headed up to San Fransisco proper to stay in an Airbnb. It was a small underground unit with a half kitchen in the Mission district close to Tartine Manufactory (my favorite restaurant when I lived in the Bay Area 🤤). We decided we were going to apply for Y Combinator a few weeks earlier and had started our application but the deadline to polish our answers and send them out was while we were in SF so the final few days of our trip were dedicated to submitting our work. Derin took the train up and stayed in our little underground Airbnb so we could join a Google Meet with Ramiro and knock this thing out of the park. This was the first time any of us had started a company or applied for an accelerator program, we were picking apart every sentence. We all had a shared Google document that had 6 or 7 reworded answers to every question and more edits than you can imagine. We sent it to friends and family for revision requests- everyone left feedback on this thing.

After finally submitting our application Derin headed back to Menlo Park and Berk and I enjoyed a beer at Dolores park, excited for whatever was next for Sometime.ai. Ramiro, Derin, Berk and I decided we should get a place together and work in the same environment for a bit. Build that fire and urgency- so a trip we planned.

Startup, freelance
San Francisco, Startup, Bay Area, Silicon Valley

San Diego - User Interviews Over Tacos

The team (Berk, Ramiro, Derin, and I) decide a great spot to go would be San Diego! Ramiro's fiance Maryam had family in LA, Ramiro’s sister is in San Diego, so it was a win-win. We stayed in a ranch-style house in La Jolla, one block away from The Taco Stand (IYKYK). We would have tacos for every meal pretty much (Derin specifically would go on a walk and end up in the backyard with tacos in tow). We were all working our full-time jobs from pre-pandemic. So hours 5am-5pm (covering all EST for the Washington DC folks, CST for the Chicago folks, and PST for the SF folk) were occupied. Each person snagged a piece of the Airbnb, Derin in the garage, me in the backyard, Maryam in the living room, Ramiro in the kitchen, and Berk in his bedroom.

Sometime.ai was in a pretty similar spot it was in when we applied for Y Combinator, but the founders were changing. We were reading every startup book we could get our hands on (Lean Startup, The Mom Test, The Design of Everyday Things, and NEVER SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, being some of our favorites). Berk and Ramiro were joining communities to chat with other founders (Pioneer App and Shipping Friday, are some of our favorites). We were listening to podcasts and Clubhouses (back when that was a thing). The picture of all 4 of us working together on a company became clearer and clearer.

We decided to focus our time on user interviews, really understanding what parts of time management cause the most problems, who it is affecting the most, etc. Around this time I was also taking freelance roles as a freelance designer, one of the advertising agencies I worked at often needed extra hands for design work. I was thinking that freelance talent has the most unique challenges with time management, as they are balancing multiple clients on top of full-time jobs (for many). So I focused on interviewing that client base, quickly learning that scheduling is a pain but really having consistent work is was keeps them up at night. The frequency of projects fluctuates so much, the taxes are complicated, and how to prevent scams or the race-to-the-bottom effect. There were so many struggles with managing a freelance business!

Around the same time we all chatted about freelancing and the importance of their struggles, we received the notice that Y Combinator wanted to interview us!! It was the last possible day for them to move people forward so we had lost hope- but at 4 pm we got that call-back. Berk scheduled the call time and we all took a shot of tequila, Derin and Ramiro bought tickets to fly to Chicago to meet Berk and I so we could prep and do the call.

Startup, blockchain, web3, developer
Startup

Chicago- Y Combinator Craze

48 hours to prepare for this call felt like an all-or-nothing scenario. We were still knee-deep in user-testing and interviewing folks about time management for Sometime.ai but also exploring freelance issues and leaning into that. We were still in the research phase. We had our friend Geoff help us who had successfully completed the YC accelerator a few years earlier. We set up calls with other professionals to do mock interviews. We played online games that asked you business questions with a timer. We learned our business inside out. We had post-it notes and notebooks with assorted notes everywhere. Each teammate sort of had categories that they would field questions if asked.

It is the night before, in a small Lincoln Park apartment 4 people are about to get rest on air mattresses, couches, etc. We have a call scheduled with one more startup founder, Ramiro's cousin, Sebas. And he said something that totally shifted our attitude on our product- Superhuman (the email service) onboarded each customer with a personalized call to understand their needs and how they could benefit most from the product before signing them on. This idea of mixing automation with real human interactions to enhance the overall product experience, ROCKED our world (a Freeflow team member still greets and onboards each new user! Don’t believe us? Try it here).

We went into our YC meeting and Michael Seibel himself was there. Berk introduced our company and the team. Ramiro eloquently summarized some of the problems we have learned from interviews and how we aim to solve them for freelancers. Michael asked questions about freelancing which I answered to the best of my abilities. He asked about our team which Derin dove into. And in 10 minutes the interview was over. Feeling anxious we all went on our own walks and spent some time alone to reflect. Within 24 hours we were rejected but with an email from Michael saying if we went all in on freelance workflow problems, then they would give us another interview for the next batch, this was the kick in the butt we needed to quit our full-time jobs and commit our time to Freeflow. There was something there.

Web3, y combinator, startup, interview

Washington DC - Zooming In

Skip forward to August. Berk, Derin, and I move to Washington DC. Ramiro and Maryam were in a lease they couldn’t get out of and Berk and I were itching to try out a new city. I drove us 12 hours from Chicago to Washington DC. We landed in a month-to-month apartment in the basement of a nice home in Adams Morgan neighborhood. We set up a huge table, monitors, desks, whiteboards, and spaces for all of us to work on the idea born from Sometime.ai, Freeflow. Freeflow coming from free(lance work)flow- was a personal assistant for freelancers. We had a few people in our network we were trying to support, and soon enough our first $50 payment came in from a developer we landed a freelance job by Ramiro who was supporting him with the personal assistant product. There were a lot of learnings during this phase that showed us that there was something here.

Ramiro and Berk decided to both put in their notices for their full-time jobs to pursue Freeflow. And within 3 months I followed suit, and 2 weeks later Derin did as well. We were firing on all cylinders. Bringing developers into our network and then connecting them with clients. We had the most success with blockchain developers- and Ramiro was very knowledgeable in the crypto space as an economist, and Derin as well with his involvement in the world of digital art and their communities. So we prioritized blockchain development and began to see how different freelancing can be with the strengths of web3.

We decided to apply to Y Combinator again and Techstars now that our theory had been tested and validated more. You can read our blog for the specifics on these applications, but you know how it ends- we got into Techstars Boulder!

Freeflow, startup

Boulder- Accelerating

I go into what the accelerator was like in more detail in our other blog post "Tech Stars Joining Techstars", so here I will just share some pictures.

Techstars, freelance, web3
remote work, freelance, developer, web3
Techstars, freelance, web3, demo day
Techstars
remote work, freelance
demo day, techstars, startup
Freeflow, subby
techstars, startups, demo day, boulder, colorado
blockchain developer
Blockchain developer, web3
Team, hire, hire top talent
top talent
top talent
celebrate
project-based, remote work

Miami- Expansion, Growth, and Sunshine

We “graduated” Techstars. Demo Day was a hit- we have a structure to our company and great forward movement. But the major issue with Freeflow remained- there were hours of the night that we couldn’t be around for (because sleep has to happen sometime!!). We were missing potential clients and developers. We also felt it was time for some fresh eyes on the product, someone who understands what it is like to be on the inside of it. So we hired Umesh Siddarth. Umesh is a very talented blockchain developer that had been one of our most reliable in the network, and also an aerospace engineer before that. Umesh is dedicated to contributing to the success of web3, and was aligned with Freeflow’s mission- and we are so grateful for the value he provides to the team.

Washington DC

So here we are- 1 WHOLE YEAR later. Celebrating all of our successes and failures, all of the blood sweat, and tears that have contributed to where we are today. Shoutout to our resilient, adventurous, adaptable Freeflow family- can’t wait to see what is to come!

Happy Birthday Freeflow, here’s to many more! 🍻

Birthday, Freeflow, startup
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Audit your workflows

Pinpointing weaknesses in communication, collaboration and production

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Create the perfect system

Solving outlined weaknesses efficiently

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