(PulsoSocial) Nubelo has announced a US$1.3m funding round. This marks the most substantial investment brought in by the freelance job marketplace to date.
The round was led by Nazca Ventures. Founded by Alan Farcas and Vanesa Kolodziej, Nazca is an Argentine-Chilean VC focused on early-stage companies. Funds also came through online investment platform South Ventures as well as La Caixa Capital Risc and Finaves.
By the looks of it, Nubelo has already put part of this latest investment to use. The startup has purchased part of Prolancer, a freelance marketplace in Brazil. With the acquisition, Nubelo will attack the Brazilian market head-on, leveraging Prolancer’s existing database of 50,000 registered professionals.
Why go at the Brazilian market by way of an acquisition? “Knowledge of the Brazilian industry and culture,” explained Nicolas Araujo, Co-founder of Nubelo, in an e-mail to PulsoSocial. “Prolacer is already operating in the freelance market with users and transactions – they’ve already achieved excellent positioning in their market. It’s a great team that’s leading the expansion of Nubelo’s model in Brazil.”
And Brazil isn’t the only major market on the menu. In 2014, Nubelo will roll out a pilot in the United States. Its goal is to promote Latin America’s virtual workforce to companies in the States, taking on incumbents Elance and oDesk – an especially bold move.
The Nubelo team recognizes that the opportunity of the U.S. market is a big one, especially as reaching Hispanic consumers becomes a more vital part of business. U.S. Hispanics represent a US$1.2 trillion market and are expected to reach 31% of the country’s population – 129 million people – by 2060.
“We now offer a solution for these companies and entrepreneurs who want to succeed in Latin America with a whole new approach,” Araujo said, continuing:
We have built a custom solution with a project manager that will hire, manage and communicate with the freelancers needed for the project. Instead of our marketplace model, for the U.S, we will offer a fully managed team of Latin American freelancers. The way, U.S. companies can avoid language barriers by hiring a bilingual project manager, and enjoy the benefits of hiring local professionals to properly engage the Hispanic audience.
Nubelo will target a few specific niches where Latin American freelance professionals have the potential to excel:
Founded in 2012, Nubelo has worked quickly to establish itself as a leader in Latin America, boasting a 230% growth rate year-on-year. With operations in more than 10 markets, the company boasts a community of 85,000 freelancers and 14,000 clients. To date, roughly 13,000 projects have been published on the site. The team hopes to reach 50,000 projects published, totaling US$200 million, in 2014.
“Latin America is the region that has grown most in online users in the last year (+12% year-on-year vs. just 1% in the USA). E-commerce is also growing gigantically in Latin America,” Araujo reflected. “The market and the region have demonstrated that they are prepared for ‘trabajo 3.0.’ We can see it in other industries: retail, hotels, travel, real estate, and online dating. The time for online work has come, and our mission is to accompany freelancers and businesses in this time of change.”
Nubelo is a Start-Up Chile alum, having formed part of the program’s fifth generation of companies. It also participated in the Baitec incubation program in Buenos Aires. The startup has offices in Spain, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Chile.