In 2003, two ambitious individuals, Odysseas Tsatalos in Greece and Stratis Karamanlakis in the USA, defied geographical boundaries to establish a partnership. They envisioned a platform that would unite businesses in need of talented workers with a pool of skilled contractors seeking employment opportunities, thus oDesk was born.
Initially, oDesk operated as a staffing firm, with its team manually pairing potential employees with companies as a part of their customer acquisition tactics. However, the platform soon evolved into a thriving marketplace for remote work, connecting thousands of freelancers with clients daily.
Tackling the "chicken and egg" problem was one of the key oDesk startup growth strategies. The team made a calculated decision to focus on clients first, as they believed this would be an effective way of attracting freelancers. Through strategic advertising on TechCrunch, oDesk was able to apply its customer acquisition tactics and grow its client base, providing a solid foundation for continued growth.
As the platform's popularity skyrocketed, attracting more than 5,000 new freelancers every day, it caught the attention of Elance, a similar but smaller platform. The two companies eventually merged, resulting in the birth of Upwork - a platform that not only offered all the benefits of oDesk but also provided incentives to former Elance users to make the switch. Eventually, UpWork growth phased out its predecessor entirely.