Empowering Gen Z Independents: Our Investment in Contra

We are living a once-in-a-generation revolution in how we work. It’s an exciting time as individuals and companies reimagine how to collaborate, build high performing teams and define professional identity for a new normal of hybrid work.

As we imagine the future of work for consumers and enterprises, we see 3 exciting trends:

-Accelerated digitization of industries and enterprise collaboration

-Reset of employee expectations in favor of flexibility and hybrid mode

-Innovation in decentralized, geo-distributed and autonomous work.

One of the notable shifts we see in this arena is the rise of digital independents: expert and early career knowledge professionals who aspire to work on their own terms, build independent careers and embrace individual brands over institutions. Gen Z and Millennials value autonomy and control over what they do more than any generation before them, accelerated by the rise of digital work, the creator economy and the pandemic. Today, 50% of Gen Z and 44% of Millennials participate in the freelance economy in some fashion and there are more than 8 million independents in the US alone. We believe this category will see rapid growth globally as we Contra is a professional community that empowers Gen Z independents with the tools they need to build professional brands, connect with opportunities, maximize their earning power with commission free payments and tap into powerful networks on a single platform.

When we first met Ben Huffman and Gajus Kuizinas, we were impressed by their creativity and unique insights into independent work, having each spent many years freelancing and building digital nomad communities prior to starting Contra. Unlike incumbent professional networks designed for the old normal and task-based marketplaces that commoditize independent talent, Ben and Gajus saw an opportunity to build a radically new professional network. One fundamentally designed for the unique needs of digitally native, highly skilled independents.

-Access to community and networked collaboration

-Autonomy to select values-aligned and relevant project based work

-Commission free payments to maximize earnings

-Opportunity to design visual professional brands

-Financial services for independent work

Just as Shopify built a platform for independent merchants and their unique commerce needs, Ben and Gajus saw an opportunity to create a purpose-built platform for a new class of digital independents. At NEA we have a history of partnering teams who democratize access to services and create new economies. Robinhood democratized access to financial markets. Patreon built a powerful monetization tool for independent creators. Masterclass unlocked access to the world’s leading experts. We couldn’t be more excited to support Ben and Gajus in their ambitious vision to empower individual, flexible, decentralized work for a new generation of talent and support this team on their journey. Power to the independents!

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