In 2014, Inc. magazine ranked Minneapolis-based Field Nation the 445th fastest-growing private company in the U.S., with a three-year growth rate of 1,073 percent. Field Nation didn’t make the Inc. 5000 in 2015, but with the $30 million in funding it gathered this past fall, don’t be surprised to see it back in the standings next year.
Mynul Khan founded Field Nation, which matches independent IT contractors with employers that need techs for projects, in 2008. It was a version 2.0 of sorts of Khan’s previous start-up, St. Cloud-based Technician Marketplace.
“That first company was focused on a small, niche market of point-of-sale technicians,” Khan says. “The biggest takeaway was realizing that there was a massive trend toward people becoming independent contractors and freelancers. Companies were moving away from W2s toward an on-demand workforce.”
Khan founded Technician Marketplace just out of college and ran it while holding down a full-time job. In 2006, he sold it and took two years off to develop the company that would become Field Nation. In so doing, he and his team refined and rebuilt its computing platform, using all open-source software. Knowing that there were around 50 million independent workers in the United States—a figure projected to be 60 million by 2020—he deliberately made the platform highly scalable to allow for future growth.
Field Nation doesn’t view itself as a staffing service, but rather a platform company that enables the connection between companies and workers, allowing independent contractors to market themselves and find work that matches their skills. In exchange for a cut of what they earn (between 8 and 10 percent when the contractor completes the job and payment is processed), Field Nation guarantees payment, covers work-related insurance and handles 1099 tax forms.
Meanwhile, employers can make use of a cloud-based project management system that can be administered from anywhere. A website allows them to comb through 20,000 service providers to find anything from printer repair to a network cabling installer. A custom dashboard gives real-time data on a project’s status.
Once the job is done to everyone’s satisfaction, the employer initiates payment. The platform is free for employers to use, and about 1,000 currently do so—including such heavy hitters as Fujitsu, AT&T, HP and Xerox.
“I wanted to build a platform that would work for freelancers across the board,” says Khan, “regardless of skill set and regardless of industry.”
One happy client is Colorado-based IT services provider Pivital Global. Field Nation makes certain the company has techs deployed on-site for Pivital’s retail clients—a task that can sometimes mean filling hundreds of jobs at once.
Pivital president Doug Lacy praises Field Nation’s expertise and flexibility. “If a tool of theirs has a functionality that would work better for us if it were tweaked, they’ll do it,” Lacy says. “We love that collaborative approach.”
While initially focused on IT and telecom, Field Nation is aggressively seeking new categories. While Khan isn’t ready to announce which ones, “the key criterion is that the market space has to be really large. It has to be a widespread challenge for businesses to find and do mass-scale on-demand deployment of on-site contractors.”
How Field Nation Connected With $30 Million
Self-funded since its 2008 inception, Field Nation attracted $30 million in venture funding in September from a group led by Susquehanna Growth Equity, with dual headquarters in Pennsylvania and Israel. Susquehanna cited Field Nation’s growth potential in announcing the funding. “Our approach to solve the independent contractor market is very scalable, which means continuous growth in coming years,” Khan says. “Also, we have a seven-year track record of execution and driving results.” Field Nation plans to use the funding to increase product development and marketing efforts and break into new markets.