My favorite kind of music: Classic rock, Rolling Stones The superpower I'd like to have is: Teleport into my bed and simultaneously remove my contacts at the same time
Building a future where going independent is a viable and lucrative career for millions
A CHAMPION FOR INDEPENDENCE. Rachel Renock firmly believes that you have to build the future you want to see. In 2016, while working as a freelance creative in advertising, she discovered how unfairly the industry was set up for a rapidly expanding workforce. That same year she co-founded Wethos, a platform that allows freelancers to form creative studios, helping them price complex projects, pull in collaborators, and simplify payments. Crucially, it also provides transparency on wages at an industry-wide level.
"When you look at the market data, 95% of freelancers are not making six figures right now. And that is a particularly terrible stat because half the workforce is projected to be freelance in the next five years. Our whole vision is to put more money in independents' pockets."
Rachel's idea for Wethos began with an obsession over a problem. While working at advertising agencies as an Art Director across a range of high-profile campaigns, she was fascinated by how such businesses operated creatively and financially. "I didn't understand at first; why can't we shoot a video for $5,000? Why does it have to be $50,000 when I'm shooting it on my camera in the kitchen? When I started to dig into that, it gave me a lot of interesting knowledge about what does and doesn't work about the existing system and how we could reinvent that from the ground up."
Before launching Wethos, Rachel and her co-founder Claire Humphreys, who had been working at the business end of advertising, managing clients and budgeting projects, formed their own freelance studio with the aim of finding more meaningful work. The company grew quickly, and to help streamline and scale the business, they built a piece of internal software. "That's when we had our 'Shopify moment' where we realized the software is more powerful than the studio or the services side of the business."
The onset of the pandemic in 2020, when many creatives in advertising were laid off, drove the growth of Wethos exponentially. Their software launched publicly at the end of 2020 and, in its first 18 months, signed up 50,000 freelance businesses.
Wethos is Rachel's first foray into the startup world and she admits it's been a steep learning curve, not least when it comes to raising capital as a gay woman in a straight male-dominated space. "I had never built software or raised capital before this company. I quit my job when I was 25, I hadn't directly managed anybody, so there were a lot of learnings there.
"Regardless of how the outside world views me or treats me, I take myself seriously, and I know we're going to eat this market. People can either get on board or get out of the way because one way or another, time will tell our story."
DISCOVERING YOUR STRENGTH IN A CRISIS. Since launching Wethos in 2016, Rachel considers two "near death" experiences for the company, both when it was weeks away from running out of money, as key moments that define the kind of leader she is today. "In those darkest moments, you either give up or become the person you need to be to get through it. I think that I've become a much stronger person and leader and been able to be more vulnerable, which has always been a weakness of mine."
It's also helped shape her long-term vision for Wethos. "My mission is to help 100 million people earn more money. I hope what will live on is the power of harnessing our data, particularly when 100 million freelancers can see what everybody is charging. That kind of wage transparency at scale is a grassroots movement towards prosperity. Collective action is way bigger than just me, and it’s how we can ignite a more prosperous future for independents everywhere, not just for the big businesses."