In today’s workforce, we are seeing endless cycles of layoffs and hiring. Employers who often hire based on project needs versus a rather than for long-term roles are seeing the value in tapping into the freelancer pool. A freelancer can ultimately meet the temporary needs of employers without the exhaustive hiring (and firing) process and financial loss that comes along with it.

In one study, it was predicted that half of the workforce in the United States alone will consist of freelancers by 2020, and other speculators are predicting that number to be even higher. So as freelancers in today’s workforce, how can you stand out from the crowd, and how can you work together to help solve the issue of unemployment?

In comes Vendeve, a referral network for women entrepreneurs that was founded by Katelyn Bourgoin and Calee Blanchard. The pair built Vendeve because it was a tool that they had wished existed when they began freelancing years ago. The website is a community marketplace for women entrepreneurs that’s fueled by trusted referrals, and unlike other online freelance platforms, Vendeve aims to be a place to share your expertise, help others and build relationships (not just sell yourself).

Katelyn explained to us that like lots of Millennials today, she originally became an entrepreneur out of necessity. She had graduated with a job offer from a marketing agency which seemed like her dream job at the time until she realized the starting salary at the agency was not going to allow for her to pay off her student loans and afford rent each month. “I started freelancing on the side to make ends meet,” Katelyn explained. “Eventually I was making more in my freelance business than I was at my day job, so I went freelance full-time.”

Taking the leap into entrepreneurship wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, but Katelyn had a game plan—she was going to hone in on her top strengths and collaborate with other people to help with the rest, and before long she had built a network of professionals who became clients, friends, teachers and collaborators. “I’d even saved money by swapping my skills to get the services I need to grow the business—like design, finance and business coaching,” Katelyn shared.

Since starting Vendeve just last year (then named Swapskis), Bourgoin has seen a steady increase in demand for a service like this among female entrepreneurs. Katelyn explained that she always knew there was hunger for a platform like this, and although Vendeve has picked up tremendous speed, Bourgoin told us that they aren’t done yet. “We still have a long way to go yet,” she shares. “There are many challenges—fundraising, product development, finding the right partnerships—but we know that every challenge is also an opportunity for growth.”

The dreams for Vendeve is to one day see it expand into the developing world. “Women are already recognized as the greatest untapped resource,” Bourgoin explains. “We know that by working together, women can build meaningful businesses that will change the world.”

For Global Entrepreneurship Week, Katelyn left aspiring entrepreneurs with one piece of advice: “Fear is a liar. Fear will convince you that your dreams are too big, or that the market isn’t ready for your vision, or that you’re not good enough. Don’t listen to it. If you’re truly passionate about what you’re building, that passion will be louder than your fear.”

With help from Futurpreneur Canada, Vicki Saunders of SheEO, Fundica (where they were the first women entrepreneurs to win the Funding Roadshow) and their current accelerator program, Mill Startup Accelerator in Las Vegas, we expect that Vendeve will go nowhere but up from here.

Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada

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