What is BTRST? Braintrust Explained
12 min read

What is BTRST? Braintrust Explained

This is your one-stop-shop to deeply understand Braintrust (BTRST). From why it exists, to how it works, it’s costs and benefits, and more.
What is BTRST? Braintrust Explained

Braintrust is pioneering a new model to match talent with companies.

This is an age old problem, with age old solutions. It’s a really important, but really inefficient market and so the project really caught my attention.

This page is my answer to your request, “teach me everything about Braintrust by answering all my possible questions about it, and try not to bore me”. From why it exists, to how it works and it’s costs and benefits. This is your one-stop-shop to deeply understand Braintrust.

Braintrust is a new project that I want to keep a track of over time so I’ll update this post as new information emerges. So let me know if you have any more questions.

Otherwise, let’s go!

What is Braintrust?

Learn more about Braintrust and how it plans to connect highly skilled technical freelancers with the world’s largest companies.

Braintrust is a decentralized talent network. Here’s what that means:

  1. Braintrust builds a database of people and companies,
  2. They match companies in need of people, with people who have the right skills,
  3. The participants own and control the talent network.

According to the Braintrust whitepaper, “this system will replace the outdated and fragmented labor market with a liquid, algorithmically controlled marketplace governed by network participants.” This is how things are and how they might change if Braintrust is successful:

  • How staffing currently works: Staffing companies get into business to make money from placing people in jobs with companies. The staffing company builds a database of people and companies one-by-one, usually in Microsoft Excel. Even worse, they have multiple Excel files or none at all. Each staffing company has their own database that covers only some of the people and companies available. When a company needs labor, they contact the staffing company and work with an employee of the staffing company to create a shortlist of talent to choose from. The staffing company takes a large cut of the fee, sometimes up to 50%. If you are talent, you might have to register one-by-one with multiple staffing companies to hear about jobs. If you are a company, you are getting access to only a small portion of the talent available.
  • How staffing might work with Braintrust: With Braintrust, there will be one single consolidated database of people and companies. When a company needs labor, they can make a request directly without having to ask permission, and receive proposals from all the available talent. The Braintrust system exists only to create this efficient matching system for people and companies, they take a 10% cut from the company to cover costs. If you are talent, you only have to register with one platform, and all your work can come through this one platform. If you are a company, you are getting access to a large portion of the talent available.

Braintrust also has unique ownership.

It is not owned by a private staffing company out to make money off people and companies. The network runs on the Ethereum blockchain with a token called BTRST, which users earn by introducing and onboarding companies (demand) and talent (supply) to the network. This means that anyone can participate, and earn rewards for their participation. Companies can also use the BTRST token to enhance their job postings, and talent can use BTRST to enhance their proposals or take courses to level up their skills.

The BTRST token underpins a voting system that gives token holders proportional control over how the network is governed. These native token uses provide strong incentives to clients and talent to use the network and participate in the governance of the network.

At this early point, I must note that the best way to learn more about Braintrust is to sign up for the network (it’s free!) so you can experience the onboarding process and explore the job postings. Talent can sign up here and companies should get in touch with me here. You just might be getting in on the ground floor of something great, and in the worst case scenario you’ll learn more about an interesting new experiment for free.

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How does Braintrust work?

Find out how Braintrust is building a community and protocol to connect skilled technical freelancers with the world’s largest companies.

Let’s walk through how the Braintrust talent network works:

Step 1: Build the database

  1. Anyone in the world can create what is called a “Connector Account”, obtain a unique referral code, and share it with new talent or companies that could serve as supply or demand on the network.
  2. Connectors refer an individual (talent) or organization (company) to the network.
  3. The individuals or organizations sign-up to Braintrust and build their profile by providing information on skills and experience, etc.
  4. Each profile that is submitted is validated by participants in the Braintrust community who earn rewards for checking the information provided by individuals and organizations, and upon acceptance by the community the information goes into a central database.

This is how Braintrust is building one big database of all the talent available for companies to hire, and the companies interested in accessing that talent. As of September 2021, Braintrust had over 50,000 community members. So it’s off to a good start.

Step 2: Match companies with talent

Using the giant database of talent and companies, the next step is simply to match the right talent, to the right companies, at the right time. This is how it’s done:

  1. Clients (companies, or other organizations) place their “asks” by posting jobs to the network, specifying parameters such as skillset, geography, and rates. Clients can use the BTRST token to make their ask stand out to talent.
  2. These client asks are broadcast to the network and matched accordingly with talent, who respond with “bids” by submitting job proposals. The proposals must thoroughly list skills (profile completeness), set competitive prices (posted hourly rate), and ensure locations align with existing client demand (time zones supported). Talent can use the BTRST token to make their proposal stand out to companies.
  3. The client accepts a proposal and the work begins. The individual and company work together and when the work is completed, as defined by a pre-agreed milestone, the talent issues an invoice to the company for payment.
  4. The client then pays an additional 10% of the total contract value to Braintrust.
  5. The Connector who referred the individual and organization now earns a reward that is paid in BTRST tokens.

As of September 2021, Braintrust was facilitating a gross services revenue of US$5M per month which is a $60M annual run rate. So there is evidence that the system is working in the real world and companies are using it to hire talent.

One of the other core innovations of the Braintrust network is programmatically rewarding network participants based on their contributions to building the network. This is done through the native BTRST token and developing a protocol, to replace expensive and ineffective centralized middlemen. In achieving these two goals, the network can dramatically reduce the capital required to build the network, cutting fees for talent to zero, and cutting costs for clients by up to 70% in some cases.

What problem is Braintrust solving?

Braintrust is proposing a new solution to an old problem, but what is wrong with the current solutions and why is there an opportunity now?

Braintrust is trying to replace legacy staffing companies with a better system. Which begs the question: why does the old system need to be replaced, and how is the Braintrust solution better?

Currently staffing companies use outdated databases, little or no technology and have laborious manual processes. On top of this their business models are built around these characteristics meaning their profits are dependent on nothing changing, so they are not investing in the technology.

The problem boils down to three parts: service, fragmentation and cost. Let’s dive into each:

  • Service: The main problem is that existing talent networks do not appreciate that talented people are their chief product and their most important assets - and don’t treat them as such. Pay is typically low and there is high churn in their employees, who have little incentive to go the extra mile on the behalf of talent. Plus, the owners are far more concerned about protecting their own profits, and also because they are sub-scale, are unwilling to invest in a better experience.
  • Fragmentation: Staffing companies build a database of people and companies one-by-one, usually in Microsoft Excel. Even worse, they have multiple Excel files, or none at all. Each staffing company then only has their own database that covers only some of the people and companies available. If you are talent, you might have to register one-by-one with multiple staffing companies to hear about jobs. If you are a company, you are getting access to only a small portion of the talent available.
  • Cost: Most legacy companies and platforms take 20-40% of what the talent makes on the platform. For companies, because of the inefficient process, the cost can be 70% higher than the potential cost with a more efficient mechanism. This creates a lot of friction and wastage in the system that can be released with a more efficient mechanism.

Those examples are in line with the old way of making profits as a talent network: charging high fees or markups while offering talent no ownership or control over company decision-making. Networks hold people’s work history, data, and reputation in walled gardens so they can exclusively monetize their own workers’ information.

By providing better service, a centralized database and reducing the cost dramatically, Braintrust hopes to make a big dent in the staffing industry and improve outcomes all round.

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Who is Braintrust for?

We take some time to explore Braintrust’s current and future target markets as the talent network continues to sign-up new knowledge workers.

Braintrust is for knowledge workers. There were 50,000 knowledge workers signed-up to the community in September 2021. However, in terms of the actual work companies are bringing to the network, Braintrust appears to be focused on top tech talent at the moment.

As it stands, Braintrust’s talent community primarily focuses on large, complex technology and design projects spanning software development, machine learning, data analytics, and other related functions (like project management). For example, recent projects staffed through Braintrust include creating a health insurance shopping platform for a major insurance carrier, and staffing full-stack engineers for a transportation company.

Other companies that have staffed projects from Braintrust in the past include Porsche, NASA, TaskRabbit, Nike, Nextdoor, Pacific Life, Nestle, and Stanley Black & Decker.

While registrations for all knowledge workers appear to be open, the projects focus on four core categories involved in agile software development and information technology:

  • Designers (Graphical + UI/UX)
  • Engineers / Architects
  • Product and Project Managers
  • Quality Assurance

That’s why Braintrust is currently focused on attracting top tech talent from companies like Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon. But importantly, this is an open network available to anyone in the world with marketable skills. At the moment approximately 50% of the talent on Braintrust are based in the U.S. and 50% are based in 100+ different countries around the world. The network is developing and maturing and will likely add new types of work, companies and categories fast.

In fact, Braintrust is very explicit in its white paper that they will eventually focus on new adjacencies as a way to expand into new categories:

“The future of Braintrust will not just lie in the tech industry. Knowledge workers in a number of lucrative fields — consulting, law, accounting, advertising, and others — are subject to the same societal and economic conditions that are driving more traditional employees to the ownership economy. Braintrust is expected to naturally adapt and evolve to include these types of workers, as client demand for different types of jobs increases both opportunity and outreach. Due to its decentralized governance, BTRST token holders will be able to vote on which industries to enter into, and when, ensuring that their needs are met in any future expansion.”

The exciting part? Because Braintrust is owned and governed by its users, they will be the ones to define and create its future.

What are the benefits of Braintrust for talent?

If it works Braintrust could be a real boon for talent, especially early adopters. Find out how.

Braintrust is a project that is building a completely decentralized staffing protocol. If it works and reaches the point where it is the default platform for staffing globally, Braintrust would be a real boon for talent, especially early adopters.

Here we’ll explore why, focusing on the benefits for talent:

Immediate benefits

  • Higher earnings: The network keeps costs down and is owned by its users so has little incentive to unnecessarily raise fees on talent. This means there is no “rake,” which means talent can keep 20% to 45% more of their earnings.
  • Flexibility and choice: Instant matching on the Braintrust network gives talent greater choice over the work they do, eliminating bureaucracy that bogs down traditional bid processes.
  • Earn tokens: Because talent earns BTRST tokens for 5-star reviews, it’s like an extra bonus on the project. These tokens can be sold or held to vote on and help share the future of the Braintrust platform.
  • Special perks: The tokens are also expected to be redeemable for special perks offered by other community participants exclusive to the Braintrust community, including free and discounted software, products, and career resources.
  • Learning opportunities: Users can also earn tokens by taking courses on Braintrust Academy, an independent community-run organization which teaches talent valuable skills to help them earn more on the network.

Long-term benefits

  • Higher volume and more diverse projects: Over time as Braintrust onboard more companies who staff more projects through the network, talent will have access to more and better opportunities than through smaller staffing companies.
  • Removal of gatekeepers: The matching system puts talent directly in touch with the client meaning there are no middlemen to deal with and talent can own the relationship and negotiate directly on the key terms.
  • Easier to manage: There is a possibility that network effects develop and Braintrust becomes the one-top-shop for talent and clients. In this event, talent will be able to manage their entire portfolio of work on one platform, and remove duplication.
  • Control over data: Unlike on centralized talent networks, talent on the Braintrust network owns their reputation, ratings, and work history — all of which are stored securely on the public blockchain.
  • Ownership: Because the network is governed by its users, they have the ability to vote on key network issues and control the direction of the network.

Overall, much better than the current system.

What are the benefits of Braintrust for clients?

If it works Braintrust could be a source of competitive advantage for companies. Find out how.

Braintrust is a project that is building a completely decentralized staffing protocol. If it works and reaches the point where it is the default platform for staffing globally, Braintrust would be a source of competitive advantage for companies.

Here we’ll explore why, focusing on the benefits for companies:

  • Reduce costs: Decentralized networks significantly lower overhead, allowing firms to charge low or no fees to talent. Companies that use Braintrust save, on average, between 50% to 75% over traditional talent networks and staffing firms.
  • Increased speed to market: The bid and ask matching process significantly decreases the time to hire for companies that need top talent quickly. This provides the additional financial benefit of being able to quickly capitalize on market opportunities.
  • Access to more talent: Within a year of launch Braintrust had 50,000 knowledge workers signed up to its community. Assuming continued growth, Braintrust’s network will become one of the world’s biggest sources of diverse talent.
  • Reduce operating risk: Companies take on significantly less risk and compliance costs over hiring full-time employees, and don’t have to compromise on the quality of potential candidates because Braintrust has built a highly transparent, community-driven talent screening process.

You can see why a lot of companies have already signed up, and how there might be a lot more in the near future.

How can I get involved in Braintrust?

You’re familiar with the Braintrust project and want to contribute, but how?

Braintrust is a project building the next generation of staffing that is completely decentralized. If you’re familiar with the project and want to contribute, you’re in the right place.

There are a number of ways you can get involved:

  • Connect on Discord: Join the Braintrust channel to join in on the discussion, learn more and interact with other people interested and engaged in the Braintrust community.
  • Sign-up to the network: Become part of the Braintrust talent community yourself. Follow the sign-up process to get access to the network and see for yourself the types of clients participating and projects available.
  • Buy the token: You can purchase BTRST tokens on a platform like Coinbase. You can then show your support for the project, discuss ideas for improvements, propose changes, and vote on governance proposals.
  • Refer people to the network: You can sign-up for a Connector Account and invite freelancers to the network. By doing this you’ll not only build the network and make it more valuable, you’ll earn BTRST tokens when your referrals start working through the platform.
  • Refer companies to the network: You can sign-up for a Connector Account and invite companies to hire talent on the network. By doing this you’ll not only build the network and make it more valuable, you’ll earn BTRST tokens when your referrals start hiring through the platform.
  • Join the community: Become a contributor to the community by signing up to complete peer-to-peer vetting or get involved in the Dispute Resolution Program as a jury arbitrator. Participants can earn BTRST tokens and contribute to the project's success.

A good way to bolster your interaction within the Web3 ecosystem is by getting involved with as many reputable Web3 projects as possible. Braintrust is a really good place to start as it is a real world application that is familiar to most people - finding and getting jobs.

The best way to learn more about Braintrust is to sign up for the network (it’s free!) so you can experience the onboarding process and explore the job postings. Talent can sign up here and companies should get in touch with me here.

You just might be getting in on the ground floor of something great, and in the worst case scenario you’ll learn more about an interesting new experiment for free.

Before you go: I have interviewed 500+ professionals, surveyed thousands more, and I am always probing for their best tips, tricks and hacks to get ahead. There are five that stand out above the rest and you can get them right now by joining my free email list. You won’t find these ideas anywhere else.