Declaration of Independents

An open letter to our community, from the Jolly Founders

February 14, 2020

We believe true freedom means creating your own rules.

There are 60 million Americans who freelance today. They're driving, delivering, designing, building, and serving. But the freelance economy is governed by rules that freelancers didn't create. The rules were made by middlemen—temp staffing agencies, closed on-demand apps and marketplaces—who take a huge bite out of freelancers' paychecks.

Independent workers are the backbone of America: soon, more than half the working population in our country will be freelancing. For too long, freelancers and gig workers have been underpaid and unknown. It’s time to bring dignity and respect to the independent professional.

Freelancers have been deprived of a basic human right: the ability to build trust, establish a reputation, and serve people directly on our own terms.

But, freelancers are strong; we are many; and with a network of our own, we are powerful.

So today, we declare our career independence. Starting now, we will create our own rules. We will take control of our reputation data so we can build trust directly with the people we serve. We will take control of our independent careers.

Together, we can end the exploitation era of the gig economy. We are creating a new Trust Economy where freelancers are just that: free. Free to own and build our reputation. Free to grow our own professional network of colleagues and clients. And most importantly, free to serve each other directly.

Jolly is not a typical company. We are in the process of filing to become a certified Public Benefit Corporation, which means we are committed to using business as a force for good. We promise to work hard to create these positive changes in the world:

We will empower freelancers to aggregate all of their reputation data—from anywhere they have established it—into one place that they own and control, that they can use however they want, especially including as a means of building trust so they can serve people directly without a middleman.

We will help our users get better access to benefits like health insurance, paid vacation and sick days, and the other resources they need to thrive in an independent career.

We will create a community that connects and lifts up each freelancer, bringing honor and dignity to the independent professional. We will always make decisions that support our users’ values, and their ability to serve each other in ways they find meaningful and rewarding.

We will empower freelancers to serve people directly, eliminating the friction and unnecessary middlemen from their service relationships.

We will always work to maximize human potential, never forgetting that every freelancer is a human, with challenges, struggles, hopes, dreams, and of course, a unique way of creating value in this world through their talents and skills.

So, join us!

Shelby Stephens

Co-founder & CEO

Zach Fragapane

Co-founder & Head of Product

We Believe

It’s time to build the Trust Economy, a more just and free evolution of the gig economy

People should own their reputation data and use it however they want

Freelancers and businesses should be free to match up and work on their own terms, without middlemen

People deserve to know beforehand if a work experience will be meaningful and rewarding

Jolly is a global professional network for freelancers

Connecting trustworthy freelancers and businesses, to build the Trust Economy together

Tens of thousands of members, and growing fast


Here are a few of the movements and ideas that inspire our team as we help build the Trust Economy:


Jolly is headquartered in Austin, TX with remote team members around the world working together to build the Trust Economy. We're active participants in the Time Well Spent movement and advocates for Humane Technology (if you're in Austin, we coordinate Austin's Time Well Spent Meetup, so please join!). We value diversity and inclusivity, and we strive to reflect in our own product the beauty of the world around us. Together with our tens of thousands of users, we're creating a better future for freelancers and the businesses that are ready to join the Trust Economy.

Shelby Stephens

Founder, CEO

Zach Fragapane

Founder, Head of Product

Ronak Gothi

Senior Engineer


Douglas Ferguson

Fractional CTO

Lisa Hickey


Get in touch with us

We love meeting new people who care about the role technology plays in our lives and who share our passion for building an inclusive future of work.