Tech Connect Profile: CareerGig Co-CEO Greg Kihlström
Posted on 02/25/21 by Adam Henry
CareerGig has grown exponentially since its founding in 2020. In June 2020, CareerGig announced it closed its initial seed funding round to support product launches and enable the company to grow its membership base. Just weeks into 2021, CareerGig announced the acquisition of Charlottesville, Virginia-based Moonlighting, a SaaS platform that empowers individuals to build their freelancer profiles and allows businesses to hire talented professionals quickly and affordably, according to a January press release. This acquisition enables the business to continue growing its base of over 850,000 freelancers and to further expand its business offerings to those users and the companies which hire them. As a member of Arlington's tech startup community, CareerGig's successes provide a testament to Arlington's adaptability to the workforce's needs and evolution into an innovation hub for startups on the east coast.
CareerGig provides freelancers with benefits and vets them for companies through the company's platform powered by blockchain and AI technology. Research shows nearly 40% of the U.S. workforce is engaging in freelance or gig work, and this figure is increasing year over year. Some new jobs and roles didn't exist even a few years ago, and some that exist today will either be replaced or forever changed by automation.
We interviewed CareerGig's Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Greg Kihlström. He offered some great insights on the future of work, doing business in Arlington, and the state of the startup ecosystem in 2021.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers have pivoted in how they conduct their day-to-day business primarily by managing their workforce remotely. As a company focused on the freelance market, how do you see work changing post-pandemic?
We have already seen the continued growth of the freelance economy over the last several decades. The pandemic has only accelerated this. An estimated 50% of the U.S. workforce will engage in independent work by 2027. Many great full-time employees were furloughed and laid off from their full-time jobs, and many others found remote work suited them and provided a more flexible lifestyle.
With these circumstances and realizations, we are now seeing a new group of professionals — both entrepreneurial and those who come from established companies — embracing the idea of a more independent work lifestyle that never considered it before. We are also seeing younger generations entering the workforce with a more open mindset towards freelance work from the outset. All of this means that the freelance economy is only bound to grow.
What has your experience been in Arlington as you launched and expanded CareerGig? What is your best argument for why other tech startups should consider Arlington to launch and grow their business?
Arlington's support of technology companies and startups and its dedication to driving innovation with its economic development efforts are second to none. I have been involved in several different companies, startups and business ventures over the years and have continually found that Arlington is open to new ideas and supportive of its entrepreneurial community.
The proximity to the nation's capitals and excellent schools and universities is another point of attraction. Additionally, with a strong existing business community here, and one that continues to attract well-known companies and large employers, I can confidently say that Arlington will support my company as it continues to grow.
CareerGig has had some great successes over the last year, including raising its initial seed round and purchasing Charlottesville-based Moonlighting. What has been the key to these successes, and what is the company's outlook for 2021?
A clear and robust mission drives us to accelerate and optimize human potential. We are doing this by creating a freelancer ecosystem that empowers the growing agile workforce to continuously improve their careers and connect them with top companies looking for the best talent available. We are also looking at partnership opportunities where freelancers on our platforms can access upskilling and furthering their education.
With a defined mission, our steps become clearer: we succeed when our freelancer audience can grow and have more opportunity. Thus, we have taken calculated steps to build a partner model, ecosystem and acquisitions like Moonlighting to achieve our goals.
Our outlook for 2021 is looking bright. We have 850,000 freelancers nationwide. We have built a national network of insurance coverage for freelancers and gig workers. Finally, we continue developing our optimization engine to help our businesses and freelancers work smarter, better and more efficiently.
Can you talk a little bit about CareerGig's plans for growth over the next 12–24 months and how it will look for the company?
We are raising another round of investment that will catapult our growth. Using the Moonlighting acquisition as a jumping-off point, we plan to rapidly expand our footprint, including adding more local talent and nationally.
As the tech ecosystem continues to grow in Arlington, what do you see as the biggest driver behind the community's success in its innovation network of companies and public and private partners?
The partnership between the public and private sectors can sometimes be overlooked by innovative companies looking for a trendy neighborhood to locate their companies. The resources, time and energy that the Arlington Economic Development can provide businesses an edge that few other locations have. AED has found a way to communicate the value of this relationship and provided meaningful programs to help entrepreneurs like myself build a fast-growing business.
For more information on CareerGig and its products and services, please visit www.careergig.com. If you are a startup tech company looking to launch or grow your business in Northern Virginia, please visit AED's resource page and contact Adam Henry, Business Development Manager, for more information. Learn more about Arlington's Tech Ecosystem.
About this Profile Series
Arlington's startup ecosystem has been rapidly expanding over the past five years and is quickly becoming recognized as an established innovation hub in the United States. Since 2015, Arlington-based companies have generated 250 venture activity deals totaling over $35.7 billion covering several industries, including software, cybersecurity, fintech, big data, digital media and more. AED launched its monthly TechConnect Profiles to highlight and profile companies in our technology startup ecosystem.