100 Brilliant Ideas 2010

Rent A Coder

Outsourcing

The man behind 285,700 programmers

Ian Ippolito saw the potential of crowdsourcing. Now Rent A Coder is raking in millions.

Do businesses hire actual employees anymore? Maybe not. As employment numbers plummeted, more than $24.7 billion of outsourced contracts were dished out in the fourth quarter last year--up 8 percent year over year, according to TPI, a sourcing advisory firm.

Much of that growth is the result of crowdsourcing: Instead of paying for full-time employees, employers are tapping into the online community of hungry freelancers. Marketing, public relations, research, design, legal services--all can be handled quickly and affordably through crowdsourcing sites.

One of the first to latch onto the opportunity was programmer Ian Ippolito, who launched Rent A Coder back in 2002. His Tampa, Fla., site connects businesses with a global freelance market of programmers, and today, an astonishing 136,837 buyers and 285,700 coders from all over the world make up the Rent A Coder marketplace. Posting of work requests is free, but Rent A Coder takes a 6-percent to 15-percent cut of the final transaction. In 2008, the most recent data available, revenue was $2.4 million--more than double what it was in 2004. This year, Ippolito expects $3 million and will rename the site vWorker.com--for virtual worker. Ironically enough, Rent A Coder has become a company that hires its own employees. For now, it has 12. --K.O.


9 More to Watch:

CloudCrowd This crowdsourcing site helps companies increase efficiency by breaking large projects into smaller tasks and distributing them to a virtual work force.

Docstoc More than 20 million users a month use Docstoc.com to access free professional documents including legal agreements, HR forms, business plans and tax forms.

99designs Thousands of designers compete for clients who need logos, websites or anything else designed for their small business.

ON24 More than 700 organizations in publishing, technology, life sciences, government and financial services rely on ON24's virtual trade show and webinar services.

Outright.com This free online bookkeeping site helps the self-employed manage their finances and prepare for tax time.

SmartyVA.com The site matches small-business owners with savvy virtual assistants to create engaging social media campaigns.

The I.T. Workshop This one-stop cost-effective site delivers high-quality information technology solutions for small businesses.

Weebly Visitors can create a free website or blog in minutes by using this simple drag-and-drop interface.

Xtreme Consulting Group Formed by two Microsoft veterans, this full-service online consulting firm offers business, technology and staffing solutions aimed at reducing costs and improving performance.

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This article was originally published in the June 2010 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Entrepreneur's Annual 100 Brilliant Ideas.

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