Braintrust connects skilled tech experts — software developers, designers, and user-experience mavens — with clients
Expected pay: You set it
Commissions & fees: 10% (paid by the client, not freelancer)
Where: Nationwide (remote)
Requirements: 5+ years of technical experience; interview and skills assessment
Braintrust is a fledgling marketplace for all types of tech talent. Built by freelancers for freelancers, the site lets you set your own rates. And you get 100% of the rate you set.
Clients pay a 10% platform fee for the connection.
How it works
The site is a non-profit that’s owned and operated by the freelancers who use it. When freelancers sign up, they’re screened by the freelancers who are already in the network. And if you get accepted, Braintrust will encourage you to help screen other newcomers too.
But the bad side of being interviewed by your peers is that they’re busy professionals like you. Some workers say it can take months to get accepted into the network.
On the bright side, the screening process nearly guarantees a congenial workplace.
And the site provides an incentive — a cryptocurrency that represents ownership in the platform. You get tokens for screening and referring both other freelancers and clients to the platform.
But the value of this cryptocurrency is obtuse. Owning a piece of Braintrust does not mean you’ll earn dividends — or ever be able to sell your “coins.” Instead, these shares are supposed to give you more say in how the site develops.
Do they really? Time will tell. This piece in BusinessInsider explains more.
Freelancers set their own rates. And they also set their own payment terms. If you want clients to pay weekly; bi-weekly; monthly, or based on hours or progress, you simply negotiate that with your clients.
You are paid through Stipe or TransferWise on whatever schedule you work out with your clients.
Braintrust is new, operating publicly just since mid 2020.
As a result, it likely has fewer clients than better-established competitors, such as Upwork, Toptal and Catalant. That said, Braintrust’s fees are exceptionally freelancer-friendly. And we hear few complaints about the platform.
You can sign up for Braintrust here.
What their users say (from Glassdoor):
Completely disruptive network that is changing the recruitment game. It is fun to be a part of. Leadership team is approachable and constantly looking for suggestions and feedback.
The onboarding is very slow and takes months.
The Braintrust team and community are an amazing group of professionals dedicated to making real change in the lives of working freelancers (and work in general). Everyone is very driven, yet collaborative, honest, transparent, and all good humans!
Good and bad experience here. I worked with them for a big well-known financial company for a few months, pay is really good, though of course everything is 1099 and like some other commenters said, it’s a net 30 payment term. The opportunities are great, but towards the end how my contract ended left a sour taste in my mouth. I suddenly received an email about 2/3 of the way through my contract term, letting me know my last day is on X day. I was shocked, though I had an inkling what it was. Sure I had some performance issues but I thought it was resolved. Apparently not. What was strange was there was no warning or chat between me and the team I was working on.
Honest thoughts so far:
- The prospects on there are legit…but you’re presented as a commodity and you’re completely beholden to their hiring practices. I’m talking net60 payment terms. Yikes.
- If you don’t already have some serious experience with enterprise clients, you’ll have a really hard time landing a client on BT.
- The utility of the BTRUST token is really obscure, and seems more like a gimmick than an actual way to to prioritize new platform features.
- They say there’s no fees for talent, but there obviously are – when you are hired, the client only pays one price, so the Braintrust client fee cuts into what would have been your compensation otherwise. It’s not a big deal (I expect to pay a finders fee), it’s just misleading.
- They say they’re building “the way work should work”, but they’ve ported over pretty much all the same problems from Upwork, Fiverr, etc.
- You can’t actually have a conversation with prospects unless they allow it, so there’s a strange power dynamic that gets in the way of the sale.
- They took a LOT of investment money last year ($10m) which flies in the face of their “owned by the talent” angle. I think they’re going to grow too quickly and bend the knee to investors vs. listening to talent, and they network will become increasingly unhealthy for talent.
- The support staff are genuinely really kind, and will bend over backwards to get you on contact with a prospect who’s a good fit.
- The community is fun, and there’s lots of other freelancers to chat with.