Azlo Business Foundry Project

Woman looking at her laptop monitor

With historic levels of unemployment in the U.S. due to the pandemic, Azlo is stepping up to help.

Enter the Azlo Business Foundry Project. The initiative was a response to the dramatic economic effect COVID-19 is having on people’s lives. If you’re forced to momentarily shutter your business, are laid off or furloughed from your job, or lost income from your freelance endeavors, what resources are available?

Here’s what you need to know about this ambitious new project, and how it can help those hardest hit financially:

A Moral Obligation to Help

When the pandemic hit back in March, it wasn’t clear how much of a lasting impact COVID-19 would have on the economy and people’s livelihoods at large, explains Azlo’s Head of Growth Leonardo Shapiro, who spearheaded the Business Foundry Project.

Beyond helping its customers apply for and understand the ins and outs of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was a top priority, Azlo wanted to help anyone who could use a financial boost. “We felt we had a moral obligation to put something out there that might be a resource for people in need,” says Shapiro.

Shapiro rallied the help of members of the Growth Team, which is essentially a small lab where innovative ideas are conceptualized and tested before they're rolled out to Azlo customers.

The project’s small crew, made up of a designer and four full-stack engineers, worked 10-hour days and on nights and weekends. Four weeks later, the Azlo Business Foundry Project was born.

Connecting Those With Opportunities

Shapiro and his team worked on pinpointing what resources might be most helpful to build a platform to best serve the needs of those who are out of work and in panic mode.

One of the main goals was to create an easy, frictionless process, where answering a few questions can point toward the fact that opportunities are indeed out there. “When someone is in distress and can’t think clearly, they might not know where to start,” says Shapiro. “[With the Azlo Foundry Project], users just go through a simple questionnaire, and suddenly there’s a universe of options.”

A One-Stop-Shop

You might lack the willpower and energy to hunt for income opportunities when you’re overwhelmed, stressed, depressed, or anxious. Shapiro and his team wanted to create a one-stop-shop to help those find these opportunities and streamline the application process. Here’s where it gets really interesting: Instead of applying for every single opportunity separately, one can apply to different work marketplaces at the same time.

How the Azlo Foundry Project Project Works

First, you answer a series of simple, straightforward questions. Next, an algorithm will match you with job platforms based on your answers. You’ll receive recommendations for income-earning opportunities that might be of interest to you. These jobs might be ones you haven’t considered or known about otherwise. To date, there are nearly 40 different platforms that feature opportunities ranging from professional services to renting out assets to everyday tasks.

Besides finding and getting connected to these income-generating ventures, users can also apply for a business account, and sign up to get guides and product updates delivered to their inboxes. Azlo isn’t making any money when you sign up. That’s right. None. Nada. Zilch. It’s really a gesture of goodwill more than anything.

The Importance of a Business Account

The option to sign up for a business account is a powerful one. As Shapiro explains, when you start out freelancing, things can move pretty fast. And before you know it, your personal and business income and expenses are mixed up in a confusing jumble.

You might not know how much you can safely squirrel away for self-employment and quarterly taxes. Nor can you keep track of business expenses you can deduct come tax time. If you set up a business account from the get-go, that could save you headache and stress down the line. And when you’re starting out, you don’t have a lot of funds to pony up to get the ball rolling. Azlo makes it easy and offers a fee-free business checking account. What’s more, there’s no minimum balance to open an account.

Creating Community

With so many folks feeling isolated from being hard-pressed for work and in quarantine, there’s a great need for connection with others. “We wanted to start by creating a dialogue and creating a mailing list of users who could eventually help each other and get resources,” says Shapiro. “Besides finding and managing these new income streams, they’re part of a community.”

What’s Next

The Azlo Business Foundry Project is still in its very early stages, and who knows what will come next. While it took an intense, all-hands-on-deck approach to build the platform, Shapiro feels that if it helps folks who are struggling financially, it’ll be well worth it. “We wanted to take people’s energy and desire into building a new business,” says Shapiro. “And we want to help them survive and thrive, which is the Azlo mission.”

Built with a lot of heart and hustle, the platform is proof of what can be achieved when innovation meets goodwill. “We’re living in such a complex world right now where the country’s so divided, and the world is so divided,” says Shapiro. “It was super heartwarming to see how people rallied through an idea that had no particular profit or objective, other than putting something out there that’s going to help others.”

Jackie Lam
Jackie Lam is an L.A.-based money writer whose work has appeared in Forbes, Business Insider, and GOOD Magazine. She is currently studying to be a financial coach (AFC®) to help artists and freelancers with their money. In her free time she blogs at heyfreelancer.com

Hi there! This post exists to offer you (hopefully) useful information but it cannot take the place of personalized professional advice. Please consult a qualified expert if you have questions about your business. Also, Azlo doesn’t endorse any third-party sites that are linked here.

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