“It’s amazing how quickly you can bring in professionals with new skills. Creating a new team could traditionally take months, but with Upwork, we can do it in weeks. It’s so powerful.”
Upwork has introduced over 20 new features to help its users so far this year—and the Emerging Business unit has been an instrumental part of some of the biggest launches.
This group is responsible for conceptualizing and building out products that will be useful to new and longtime Upwork users. They’re working quickly too, taking cutting-edge generative AI projects from idea to reality in as little as two months.
But the secret to the Emerging Business team’s success is simple: they rely on the talent on Upwork.
Assembling a workforce quickly
Matt Edelman, general manager and vice president of the Emerging Business unit, was a longtime user of the platform before he joined Upwork in January 2023. For Edelman, continuing to turn to talent on Upwork felt like a natural way to support Emerging Business projects.
“I honestly believe that to turn big, innovative visions into reality, you need to have a flexible group of people you can rely on,” Edelman said. “Upwork lets us bring in people with a specific skill set to get projects done—it’s an amazing utility.”
Tapping into the pool of talent on Upwork allows Edelman and his colleagues to quickly add new skills to their team as technology—and customer needs—change.
“It’s amazing how quickly you can bring in professionals with new skills,” said Matt Jaffe, senior director of product for Upwork Labs, a team within the Emerging Business business unit that specifically focuses on early-stage experimentation and incubation. “Creating a new team could traditionally take months, but with Upwork, we can do it in weeks. It’s so powerful.”
Mohan Chandolu, senior director of engineering for Emerging Business, got to experience this agility firsthand while assembling a team of engineers for a time-critical initiative.
“Emerging Business needs a high level of agility, and there are times when we need to quickly change direction. The key is how ready I am with the resources and skill sets that I need to support the business,” Chandolu said. “I was recently able to hire six engineers in the span of about five weeks—“leverage the talent on Upwork” has been my mantra for getting work done.”
Rapidly delivering new and innovative AI solutions
The flexibility and vast range of skills provided by talent on Upwork became even more important to the team in early 2023, as they began exploring how to best use generative artificial intelligence (AI).
“We asked ourselves how we could leverage generative AI to solve core customer problems,” said Jaffe. “And we identified that many of our clients are hiring talent for the first time. Many of them have never hired independent talent before at all, and it can be challenging for them to describe what it is that they need.”
This gave the Upwork Labs team an idea. They decided to create an AI job post generator that could help first-time clients more easily describe and post their needs on Upwork.
“I used our consultation product to speak to experts in AI technology,” Edelman said. “I looked for people who had good communication skills and experience working on AI products. This gave me great context around their experiences and guidance on the direction that we could take internally.”
With these insights—and hands-on help from AI professionals on Upwork—the Emerging Business team was able to move forward quickly on their concept.
“We started building our first prototype in February 2023, and we built it in the space of two weeks. It was a very, very quick turnaround,” Jaffe said. “We launched the first version publicly in April, and then immediately started working on the second version. We launched version two in June.”
This ability to evaluate, develop, launch, and then iterate to improve meant that the team was quickly able to deliver an upgraded product that was even more finely tuned to new clients’ needs.
“Clients using the job post generator indicated they were able to cut their time spent posting a job almost in half,” Chandolu said. “And we keep continuously evolving these products.”
Building long lasting, trusted relationships
The project had an internal impact too, as the Emerging Business unit developed valuable relationships with talented AI and machine learning engineers. And it’s these relationships that persist even after a project ends.
“Most of the time, I work with talent on a repeat basis. When one project ends, I may offer them another project within Emerging Business,” Chandolu said. “We like to invest in our relationships with engineering talent—they understand our frameworks and the tools that we use, which allows me to get more productive work done.”
Ultimately, it makes sense that the very talent using Upwork would be best equipped to help improve and evolve the platform.
“I really love that we’re able to use our own platform to improve our product,” Jaffe said. “I’ve been super pleased with the results of our work so far.”
Regardless of what the next steps turn out to be, the Emerging Business team is confident that with the help of talent on Upwork, they’ll be ready for anything.
“We can move really fast and really big on new projects with high confidence because we have the right people with the right skills coming in,” Edelman said. “It’s an exciting future ahead.”
Upwork engages with freelancers as both independent contractors and through third-party employers of record, depending on the worker's classification and applicable law.
Recommended success stories
Join the world's work marketplace
Find great talent. Find great work. Are you ready to move your business or career forward?