Inspired by dating apps, made-in-Detroit Kinfolk would pair creative freelancers with jobs

click to enlarge From left: Leah Hill, Chelsi Modest, and Amber Lewis. - IAN SOLOMON
Ian Solomon
From left: Leah Hill, Chelsi Modest, and Amber Lewis.

This year, a new mobile app called Kinfolk is set to drop, allowing for creative freelancers to publish their portfolios and make career connections.

The app will benefit prospective writers, directors, photographers, graphic designers, videographers, sound engineers, and other artists by pairing them with clients.

Leah Hill, CEO and founder of Kinfolk, says she taught herself how to create the user experience through Adobe XD.

“I know that I want the functionality to be super easy to use,” Hill says. “So I actually kind of took the concept of dating apps where you just swipe ‘yes’ and ‘no.’”

To get started on the app, users can create a portfolio, upload photos of themselves, provide an artist statement and set location, three skill sets, and connect project leads. They can also put up to five examples of their work such as photos, videos, and more.

Kinfolk CFO Chelsi Modest joined the team to help with the business aspect of the app.

“I need someone who understands the language of business much better than I do,” Hill says. “I would say she’s one of the smartest people I know. She was the first person I asked to join the team.”

Amber Lewis, Detroit's former director of digital and social media, will be in charge of the marketing, public relations, and content development for Kinfolk.

“When I was really thinking about the brand of Kinfolk and that it is for creative freelancers and thinking about who could really bring that to life, I think Amber is the perfect person,” Hill says. “She herself has recently left her full-time job to pursue creative freelancing full-time like a lot of [successful people] today. So besides actually being able to create the content, that being a huge thing she’s great at, she is our target audience. I think she brings a great perspective in that realm.”

Kinfolk will also include an investment system through WeFunder called SAFE Investments, which stands for “simple agreement for future equity.”

According to a post on Kinfolk’s Instagram, SAFE Investments “grants investors the right to obtain equity at a future date if the startup sells shares in a future financing. SAFEs are used by early-stage startups because they delay the difficult task of figuring out how much a startup is worth. The number of shares you receive is determined at the next priced financing when professional investors — typically venture capitalists — set the price for preferred stock.”

The "valuation cap" of the investment sets a maximum price for the stock, meaning the lower the price, the more shares.

With a minimum investment of $100, Hill says anyone can become an equity shareholder. She says this is a way to democratize investing, change the narrative of who can become an investor, and create opportunities for young people.

“It’s building a platform and also getting a piece of that platform quite literally in equity,” Hill says.

“Along with doing the crowdfunding, we’re still looking to get accepted to accelerate a program and still going to pursue venture capital,” she says. “But I think doing this crowdfunding was so important to me.”

When Kinfolk is complete, Hill says the app will be available nationally.

“We’re going to launch nationally and it will be based on your location,” Hill says. “So, you can put for example your primary location as Detroit and it’ll probably give you a 50-mile radius of projects going on in your area.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Hill says the app will also incorporate remote work opportunities.

“We also, obviously, with COVID, recognize that shifting narratives, so we are going to allow some skills and some teams to be built virtually too,” Hill says. “There is opportunity to also find jobs like that.”

Hill says she believes Kinfolk can help not only creative freelancers, but also college students moving to a new, unfamiliar city.

“I think there’s a lot of different ways Kinfolk can be a help,” she says. “I think there’s also so many project leads who are looking for people to really bring their ideas to life.”

Hill says she is excited to expand and grow Kinfolk to different markets, as well as be able to facilitate her’s and other’s careers.

She says, “I think it’s an app that every creative can benefit from.”

Hill says Kinfolk is expected to be available to the public later this year.

For updates and more information on the app, you can visit Kinfolk on Instagram or their website.

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