When the world shut down in March 2020 and people were stuck at home for months, many used the experience to rethink their lives and work and start looking for opportunities to start their own businesses.
At the same time, a new social network was launched, specifically aimed at people who were looking to take charge of their professional life for the first time. In just two years bee saw over 15 million freelancers and entrepreneurial job seekers sign up worldwide, many of whom have never been on a work-related social network before. More than 1.5 million of these users are based in the UK, a figure that is expected to reach 4 million by the end of 2023.
Based in Madrid, Spain, beBee was co-founded by CEO Javier Cámara and CMO Rafael Garcia. During the confinement, the duo envisioned the creation of a social network that would bring together a range of professional opportunities addressing both supply and demand; the self-employed, professionals offering local services and entrepreneurial job seekers, as well as those who need a specific service.
The pandemic has become a catalyst for the emergence of a new generation of entrepreneurs, keen to make up for lost time and achieve long-held ambitions of becoming their own boss. Network users come from a wide range of professions and industry sectors, from technology and design to medicine and law.
“It can be a job seeker, taking a more proactive approach to finding a job with a company of their choice, or a recent graduate, who actually says, ‘It’s me, what I can offer you. Now tell me what you can offer me,” Cámara said. “Or they may have recently retired but need to earn some extra money to help them through the cost of living crisis affecting so many people at the moment. Employers also now understand their obligation to improve working relationships with their remote staff, which creates happier situations for all parties involved.
The network launched in 2020, with Cámara using her tech background to focus on the product and technical side, and digital marketing professional Garcia handling marketing and sales.
The company has also benefited from the support of successful online entrepreneur Juan Imaz, who launched the first webmail in Spanish, Mixmail, and is the main investor in beBee. “We had 100% support from him,” Cámara says. “We also had the help of several angel investors, and in total we received an initial investment of 3 million euros.”
What sets beBee apart from other job portals and career platforms, Cámara says, is that it focuses on the candidate rather than the company and the job. Many of those who signed up are not present on LinkedIn.
“As someone who provides a service, you can create an authentic profile of yourself that goes far beyond the CV; an authentic representation of who you are, your skills and your interests,” he says. “You can blog and engage with other users, and highlight exactly what you can bring to a given role while simultaneously creating business connections where your skills and personality traits are in high demand.”
The company now has a team of 30 people and is available in over 50 countries, with the largest number of registered professionals based in the US, UK, Brazil, Spain, Japan, France, Canada and Germany. The number of users is expected to reach 30 million worldwide by the end of 2023, and Cámara says the goal now is to become the global go-to site for professionals.
“This is not a business site, but a real social network for the next generation of freelancers and entrepreneurial job seekers who are taking ownership of their personal brand on a scale never seen before” , he says. “But we also know that true success comes through humility and hard work, so our fundamental goal is to continue to make beBee an amazing experience for all users. Right now, we’re riding the wave of great resignation, especially in the US and UK, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.