Think being a member of the gig economy means being footloose and fancy-free? Setting one’s own hours, working in PJs, venturing outside to the bank and pocketing some of those wages?
Think again. Depending on where one works and what they do, freelancing has its own challenges, and those challenges can become headaches rather quickly.
Yes, there are the lures of flexibility (among other benefits,) as noted in the PYMNTS Gig Economy Index. However, paperwork tops the list of migraine-makers, of course. Registrations, billings, taxes … and in some countries, like France, the administrative tasks are more onerous than might be seen elsewhere. Consider the fact that, in that country, freelancers must be in possession of a designated bank account before they can ever commence work or get paid for that work.
CEO and Co-Founder Nicolas Reboud spoke to PYMNTS about the current state of the gig economy — the French version of it — and the year-old company’s place in the landscape, where 3 million freelancers ply their respective trades. He noted that, in France, the move to make a living as a freelancer is a move to embrace complexity when dealing with the government.
“You never know what you need to do, what you should be doing. It’s pretty daunting,” he told PYMNTS.
The company was born from an experience Reboud had with one of his previous companies, Printic — and through a relationship that shone a spotlight on the minutiae of freelancing. He recounted to PYMNTS how he hired Raphael Simon to help with the Printic website and saw firsthand the challenges that freelancers face.
The Freelancer’s Co-Pilot
Shine takes a role as a co-pilot in a way, offering an app that helps users become freelancers in France over a short span of a few minutes. The company’s toolkit app lets freelancers juggle tasks from registering a company to calculating taxes to keeping track of clients — and establishes that designated bank account as well.
“We get people started to register as a freelancer,” he said, so that, in a matter of minutes, they can open their bank account and fill out the legal forms, then start working.
In the absence of such a one-stop shop, said the CEO, would-be freelancers would have to go through the government’s website, register as a “micro-company” and across any number of directories, open a traditional bank account to facilitate payments and, of course, juggle invoices and tax requirements — which can accrue monthly, quarterly or per project.
Freelancers can reach out to Shine directly to get help, available through online chat. Thus far, with a beta test under its belt and an official launch last week, Shine has seen interest from several freelance niches — notably from bikers working with food delivery outfits and, as he put it, “lots of consultants and web developers as well.”
When asked about payments mechanisms, Reboud noted that bank accounts (which are free) are set up through Treezor — which handles the international bank account numbers (IBAN) and offers direct debit and ATM features. The company monetizes the activity by charging commissions on transactions. Treezor, said the CEO, handles the banking infrastructure, and Shine essentially builds and maintains the user interface on top of that infrastructure. The payments functionality works as users set up their accounts through Shine (i.e. a business account), become registered gig workers and have accounts linked, say, through Uber to begin to accept (and, of course, make) payments.
Shine also assists freelancers in creating and personalizing invoices, said Reboud, who added that there are options to create PDFs and links for the clients to pay by credit card.
As always, taxes are the one surety in business. Reboud told PYMNTS that while the company cannot yet facilitate automatic tax payments, that function is on Shine’s roadmap. The company is waiting for the government to “open its API. In the meantime, all we can do is tell people exactly what they need to do” when it comes to that liability — and Shine sends out reminders.
Where The Money Will Go
The €8 million Series A funding round was led by XAnge and featured existing investor daphni — the latter had invested €2.8 million in Shine in a previous funding round, in tandem with other investors.
“This money will be used to keep growing the team and keep developing the product and hopefully launch Shine to other countries next year,” said Reboud, noting that a premium plan is in the works too.