Calgary company Communo helping creatives get back to work

Calgary company Communo helping creatives get back to work

Calgary tech company Communo is choosing people over profits by offering laid-off creative workers free membership to its highly-vetted marketing talent platform. As a result, it is experiencing explosive growth across North America, while needing to hire local talent to meet demand.

Founded in 2017 by president Ryan Gill and COO Chris Kneeland, Communo is an online platform bringing together freelancers to do the work they love. A subscription-based model, members pay a monthly fee to gain access to a vetted, managed marketplace in which businesses can help build their dream teams by sourcing trusted talent easier, faster and without commissions from a 30,000-plus global pool of freelancers.

The pandemic has meant advertising agencies and the marketing industry creative houses have had to cut staff. “There’s a ripple effect during a recession and many brands have slashed their marketing budgets while agencies are laying off hundreds of people. A flood of talent has come into the market and Communo is a resource for them, to help them get back to work as soon as possible,” says Gill.

He says since COVID-19 hit, Communo has had a 1,400 per cent increase in sign-ups. Membership allows marketing and advertising freelance professionals to talk to others in their position, attend virtual events hosted by the community, and get access and exposure to a huge amount of new opportunities.

That means a Calgarian with no work at present can find a short-term or long-term job with some of the world’s best brands.

Gill believes that as a result of COVID-19 many businesses are learning they no longer require a large staff in expensive office space; instead, they need access to talent on an as-needed basis through platforms such as Communo.

The company was launched in Calgary and has already become a trusted connector throughout North America, and has brokered more than $40 million worth of projects for its members.

Offices are also in Toronto, Vancouver and New York, which, along with the Calgary staff, have amassed and vetted talent in 74 different disciplines.

To date, Communo has raised $4.5 million and is expecting $20 million of investment in 2021, enabling the company to double in size with a need to hire more software developers, engineers, psychologists, social scientists, and sales and marketing professionals — many in the Calgary office.

Gill says it will be innovative startups that help Calgary out of the current recession, and he’d like to see support for the tech industry to be part of the economic “re-entry” plan.

A veteran marketing executive, Gill is also founder of Cult Collective, a marketing engagement agency for brands across North America, and president of The Gathering, a Forbes-rated must-attend annual summit held at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel featuring international speakers from across all industries. Last February’s event attracted more than 2,000 attendees at the summit and its music festival.

Gill is also a businessman with a good heart. I first wrote about him some 20 years ago when he started Project Smile, a charitable program in which he took staff to Mexico for a week to put on a carnival and play games with severely underprivileged kids, as well as working in village infrastructure projects.

He’s still at it, and last November took 12 of his staff to be life-changers for children — and make them smile.


David Parker, May 4th 2020, Calgary Herald