As a former Facebook engineer, Aamir Latif has a true appreciation of the power of networks. “Whether you’re looking to learn something new, or find someone to help you solve a problem, having access to a network of talent is crucial. But finding the right person to help you at the right time is much harder,” says Aamir, “even with an increasing amount of social and professional networks available.”
This is a problem Aamir has spent some time thinking about. In fact, when Aamir arrived at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he was determined to become a doctor. His goal? To gain the knowledge and skills to help people in need. But his fascination with technology — and a creative drive to solve problems — led him on another path. Instead of pursuing medicine, he became a self-taught software engineer and an entrepreneur. And while his specialization shifted, his mission to help others remained the same.
While completing his studies at UNC, Aamir continued to think about the opportunities enabled by emerging technologies. For example, the ability to match people — regardless of geography — with experts who can help them in some way.
He experienced this first-hand as a pre-med student attending networking events. He wondered: How could you quickly identify the best person to connect with? “In a crowd of 500 people, there’s one ideal network connection,” says Aamir. “I wanted to find a way to ensure those two people met. There are so many possibilities when you connect the right people focused on solving the same problem.”
These questions led Aamir to launch Proximitas during his senior year of college. A network-matching app, Proximitas quickly determined which event attendees would make for the most meaningful connections, based upon mutual areas of interest. With Proximitas, Aamir was able to help a wider range of people create meaningful collaborations.
Fueled by this success, Aamir joined Facebook as a software engineer after college with the goal of learning more about the power of tech-enabled networks. After working at Facebook, and later at Vendr and TruStory, Aamir identified even more unmet opportunities.
As a self-taught software engineer, Aamir consistently looked for the best resources to continuously sharpen his skills. But with an increasing number of learning resources available, it became harder to determine which online courses, forums or communities could provide the best learning experience.
And, despite the ever-growing resources available, Aamir realized that working with an actual human — who can serve as a player/coach, thought partner and co-collaborator — is more important than ever. “People spend a lot of time trying to find the right online course or forum, whereas working directly with a pro not only helps you solve a specific problem or learn a new skill, but also provides an opportunity to expand your thinking entirely,” shares Aamir.
Additionally, Aamir realized that even within the best-resourced tech firms in the world, accessing the coworker with the exact skills and experience needed to solve the problem at hand takes time, which stalls workflows and stifles innovation.
From these insights, Aamir was inspired to launch Hopps — the first-of-its-kind, on-demand talent platform, quickly matching individuals and teams with the highly-skilled experts they need to expand their capabilities.
The simplest way to describe Hopps? “Hopps provides a deeper bench of on-demand pros, available when and where you need them. Our users collaborate with Hopps Experts to broaden their collective knowledge and skills, problem-solve, strategize, pursue new opportunities, and ultimately, to drive success,” says Aamir.
Launched in December of 2019, Hopps was enabled as a result of the increasing adoption of decentralized models of working. As tech talent began shifting away from full-time employment toward remote-first, freelance-based careers, even companies on the leading edge of innovation began to experience challenges in recruiting and retaining highly-skilled tech employees. Tech talent began prioritizing flexibility in terms of employers, employment style, geography, project focus, and more.
The rise of the gig economy was quickly followed by the global pandemic, which expedited these talent preferences, and more companies — even those that were once slow to embrace remote-first cultures — were forced to adopt decentralized models of working.
But as a result, both talent and companies across industry verticals started to identify new opportunities. Talented pros could broaden their skills and experience by partnering with a variety of clients, and achieve the flexible work styles they preferred. And companies could collaborate with highly-skilled tech experts on-demand, allowing them to quickly scale their teams up or down, depending upon their needs. Talent platforms such as Upwork, Fiverr and Catalant became more popular — each offering a different approach to matching talent to the companies and individuals in need of support.
There remained one challenge — sourcing on-demand talent was still painfully slow, even within companies that move quickly. “The future of work arrived faster than anyone anticipated,” says Aamir. “But so did the expectation that you have to remain agile in order to achieve and maintain the lead in every industry. With Hopps, we knew we had to meet our customers’ needs exactly when their problems arise. That’s why we match our customers with the skilled experts they need within five minutes of their submitted request,” he explains.
On-demand tech talent, sourced in as little as five minutes, drives significant value for Hopps customers. “We see a variety of customer profiles partnering with our experts on any given day,” says Aamir. “First, you have the solopreneur who needs help standing up a new branded website, or optimizing their Shopify boutique. Next, you have the startup team, looking to drive growth through web traffic, paid media, and ultimately, converting leads into paying customers,” he says. “These customers need to move quickly out of necessity — their teams are small, and each team member wears multiple hats. They don’t have the time it takes to consume all of the learning materials available to attain expert status across every possible software tool.”
But even the pros working within large companies need pinch hitters, which opened a new market opportunity for Hopps. “We collaborate every day with tech and marketing experts. And while they’re really smart and skilled pros, they’re moving quickly from tool to tool across their tech stack. They need experts who can act as collaborators as they develop their strategy, optimize their tools, identify gaps in their processes, and ultimately, support their business growth,” says Aamir.
There are added benefits for companies leveraging talent platforms such as Hopps. “In partnering directly with their in-house teams, we’re able to share knowledge, skills and capabilities that provide natural professional development opportunities for full-time employees. We are able to not only support their business growth, but to foster a culture of curiosity, experimentation and knowledge sharing. This is incredibly meaningful for our team, as the power of knowledge sharing is one of our core beliefs, and one of the reasons we launched Hopps to begin with,” shares Aamir.
For this and many reasons, the future looks bright for companies that leverage talent platforms. “It’s this type of collaboration that will determine which companies succeed in the future of work,” says Aamir. “They’re not just focusing on the most immediate problem. Sure, that may be how they initially discover Hopps, but in partnering with our experts, they’re deepening that bench, acquiring new knowledge, skills and capabilities for their team, supporting a culture of knowledge sharing, and launching innovation-driving initiatives they previously didn’t have resources to support.”
That’s what fuels the work of our team. “At Hopps, we’re inspired by the work and creativity of our customers. To play a part in enabling their teams to work smarter, move faster, think bigger, collaborate better, and innovate at scale — that’s what inspires our team each day,” says Aamir.
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