Founded in 2019, Stoke has raised $4.5 Mn of seed funding. The round was led by TLV Partners with participation from Bogomil Balkansky (former VP Cloud Recruiting Solutions at Google), Flatiron Health founder Zach Weinberg, Boaz Chalamish (CEO of Clarizen), and others.
Shahar Erez and Hilik Paz started this on-demand talent problem in this year itself to solve the problems companies face in managing an agile workforce. The two entrepreneurs have had an experience in managing departments in large technology companies including senior positions at Mercury / HP, VMWare and Microsoft. After experiencing the challenges of hiring and managing a modern, flexible freelance workforce, themselves they know the troubles personally.
“The new generation who've entered the workforce in the past decade want a different contract with life; they want flexibility and ongoing self-development. Keeping up with the trend, companies are changing their operating models and becoming learning, and evolving organizations. With Stoke we wish to bridge the gap between enterprises and freelancers, providing a one-stop management platform for the Open Talent Economy,” said Shahar Erez, co-founder and CEO of Stoke.
"Regardless of company size, hiring managers are wasting inordinate amount of time sourcing and screening contractors, and then chasing statements of work, invoices and payments. That's why I was excited to back Shahar and Hilik's vision at Stoke, and be a part of solving this economy-wide problem," said Bogomil Balkansky (former VP Cloud Recruiting Solutions at Google).
Balkansky has himself faced the challenge of locating and onboarding on-demand talent, both at a 20-person startup and during my stint at Google.
Stoke’s talent-on-demand platform will enable companies to find, hire and manage freelancers at scale. Stoke will provide organizations with a management platform for their existing external workforce, as well as integrate with popular online freelancer marketplaces, enabling Stoke users to search these sites in from Stoke’s own unified interface and easily on-board new people.
On-demand talent platforms are fundamentally marketplaces where supply and demand face each other under the aspect of a supply of talent and a demand for talent. These platforms therefore mainly belong to the second category. The older talent platforms or the existing online marketplaces for freelancers help locate talent, but are primarily restricted to consumer and ad-hoc markets, larger firms and companies have not been able to leverage them yet.
For medium and large companies, the process of hiring and managing freelancers is way more complex, disorganized and difficult. Often managed through a combination of emails, Excel spreadsheets and scattered Word documents. As employers look to scale these operations, on-demand talent platforms might come to rescue. There are many players in this space including Bruce, Talao, Kicklox, dock.io, Comatch, and Quidli. With experts predicting gig economy to define the future of work, there are plenty of opportunities of growth for these startups.
While companies have been slow to adopt gig work models as of yet, it’s an approach that the majority of business executives are currently considering. According to Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends report, 79 percent of executives say they expect contingent and freelance workers to substantially replace full-time employees in the coming years. As more companies adopt these newer models of work demand for on-demand talent platforms shall also rise and the work tech market can see more platforms like Stoke emerging. However, they would have to always be on the edge to understand the needs as the expectations of employers and gig workforce shifts gears in the future. One of the crucial tasks for these on demand platforms will be to ensure the human touch amidst the technologically driven processes.