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Editor’s note: This post is part of a series of posts published in co-operation with Elance, the leading source of outsourcing talent in the world. Elance is also supporting our ArcticEvening Helsinki on June 14th.

Elance is helping us with ArcticEvenings in the region and in return we want to highlight how they’re helping startups with quick access to talent. On Thursday, Elance representatives will also be present at ArcticEvening Helsinki and therefore we want to highlight a Finnish startup they are working with.

Dream Broker is an online video software company started in 2007 that focuses in video production and distribution. They are a video platform for companies and organisations where open systems such as Vimeo and YouTube don’t work. Their service can be used for software tutorials and support, staff competence development, change management as well as communications to name a few functions.

The company has strong growth and in 2011 did almost €1.5M in revenue.

We talked to Ari Heljakka, the Chief Strategy Officer about how they use Elance and how other startups could learn from their use cases for it.

ArcticStartup (AS): What services do you use Elance for?

Ari Heljakka (AH): We have used Elance for many kinds of software development and design projects, mainly for developing add-ons and other software which is not an integral part of our video platform.

ScreenMail, our productivity-boosting communication tool, was mostly implemented by subcontractors. We even proved it possible to have local contractors and Elance contractors work together seamlessly. The contractors utilized our video technology to make collaboration very smooth. We have documented some of this in these interview videos: http://screenmail.to/references/accelerating-projects-and-customer-communication-with-screenmail/

AS: What have been the main advantages to you?

AH: I think there are three advantages to using Elance contractors. First, it lets us focus our main efforts on our core product, the enterprise online video platform. Second, add-ons often require expertise which we might not readily have available, say, when developing a plugin to some CMS system. Obviously we get there faster if we hire someone who is an expert at precisely that. Third, many contractors at Elance are very cost-effective.

AS: What were the alternatives that you thought of? Why were they unsuitable?

AH: We have a highly capable internal R&D which focuses on the video platform development. But when it comes to developing value-adding services which are not part of the core platform, we always consider Elance contractors first. If those features can be implemented as an add-on which utilizes our platform API, that is a perfect project for Elance contractors.

We have come across with some highly capable local subcontractors as well, but they are best suited for projects which absolutely require a local contact person.

AS: Which areas of your business do you currently outsource?

AH: We mainly outsource R&D and design work.

AS: Are there any areas of your business that you would consider outsourcing in the future?

AH: Dream Broker’s Strategic Operations unit is continuously looking for and experimenting with new approaches to run our business operations more efficiently. Outsourcing is a part of this.
What do you see as the major benefits of using freelancers?

It is easy to find relevant domain expertise for almost anything we might need. The cost-efficiency, and low management overhead are also major benefits.

AS: Has Elance helped you to grow your business? Increased turnover?

AH: Elance contractors have sped up our product development and provided us with features and add-ons that are critical to some of our corporate customers. Elance has had a significant impact on our competitiveness and the speed of producing new innovations.

AS: Is your usage of Elance likely to go up or down in the future?

AH: The usage is likely to go up.

AS: What do you like best about Elance and where is there room for improvement?

AH: The Elance platform has clearly been developed by listening to the users, and the number of skillful software development contractors is impressive. However, Elance could still improve upon its outreach. E.g. many software professionals that I encounter here in Finland have never even heard of it yet!

This post is part of a series of posts, sponsored by Elance.

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