A quick Google search for “models on demand” returns results primarily relating to the business models of on-demand software services. Not what I was looking for. What if I made that search because I’m a brand looking to hire a professional model for a product activation, a trade show booth or a print campaign? Virtually every industry requires some form of “models” to drive the creative for its marketing efforts, so expecting to be able to hire them on-demand, in the golden age of apps, isn’t asking for too much.
Although they don’t seem to be dominating search rankings for all the right search terms yet, there are certainly services that allow you to bypass agencies and directly hire models on-demand. Among the newer entrants to that space is Moda, a mobile app and booking platform that connects available models in any city directly to clients in need of some aesthetic talent.
Clients can use the app to easily find the kind of model they require for an event or photoshoot. They start by setting a date and giving a description of the gig they’re offering. The app analyzes the requirement and shows them models who fit the bill. Clients can then contact the models directly from within the app.
While Moda does simplify the process of hiring models for brands and other entities, it was created with a more human goal: to empower models. “Before we started with development, we made it a point to personally listen to all the models that we interviewed,” says Moda CEO Victor Teruel. “We wanted to know their thoughts and frustrations, to understand their experiences in the current industry and what they like and dislike about their agents and agencies.”
Through these interactions, Teruel and his team found that there were a number of reasons why the women and men in front of the cameras had been left feeling disenfranchised by the agency system. “We were stunned that there were many recurring themes,” Teruel says, going on to explain how “payment delays, high commissions taken by agencies, lack of respect for privacy and personal space, and sexual harassment” are all things models deal with regularly. “It was through this that we made it our goal to engineer Moda’s platform to be a solution,” he recounts. “One that every model can have to empower themselves to pursue their dreams of being discovered in a safe and reliable platform, all in the palm of their hands.”
Moda attempts its empowerment by making the needs of the models central to the app’s user experience. “We focus on every intricacy and detail to be able to provide models a platform where they can easily build their aspirations and careers,” Teruel tells me. Part of that aim involves pricing each gig appropriately. “We know that each modeling job—like promo, hosting, and print—are different from one another and have different rates,” he explains.
The app requires clients to pay models market rates based on the specifics of each job. It also takes into account the experience level of each model to determine their price. Since agencies are out of the picture, models deservedly make more—30% more on average, according to Teruel. Moda makes a 10 percent cut on each transaction.
The original “Uber for models” app called, SwipeCast came out in mid 2015. It casts a wider net than Moda, serving as a discovery engine for all sorts of services relating to the modelling industry, including photographers, stylists and designers. The startup has raised $1.2 million in two seed rounds. Although facing competition both from agencies and direct rivals like SwipeCast, Moda’s makers believe it is unique enough to stand out from the crowd.
“We have the only platform that offers same day and multiple day bookings directly from one’s phone,” Teruel says. He goes on to explain that, “Unlike the other platforms or apps, Moda also allows clients to book any number of models with instant confirmation by simply entering the number of models they need.” It’s quick and it’s simple, and it’s beginning to catch on.
Teruel claims that the app has received tremendous traction locally in the US as well as internationally. Due to Moda still being in stealth mode, he was unable to give us actual figures pertaining to the number of models on the platform and revenue from transactions being carried out using it. However, he was able to say that the “interest, test signups, etc. have exceeded expectations so greatly, that we are strongly considering the continuance to refuse institutional monies and continue to grow organically.” So investors, get in line. Or don’t?
Prateek Jose is a writer and engineering undergrad from India with an unhealthy obsession for obscure historical trivia. Conversations about absurdist fiction and the technological singularity make his day. He’s already uploading parts of his brain to servers by writing for websites such as this one.
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