A Serial Entrepreneur Uses oDesk to Tap Yahoo's Powerful Platform

With Greenzone Inc, Matt Yonan returns to the web hosting solution that he used to create a $4 million business—this time with the added muscle of oDesk's deep talent pool and transparent management tools.

Matt Yonan saw another business opportunity: Companies and individuals make donations to have trees planted, and buy and sell "green credits," but since the planting is generally done far from the donor, there's usually no way to really know that the work was done, and done well. So Yonan decided to set up a marketplace where tree farmers could sell credits off newer trees and customers and companies could buy credits knowing the funds they spent were directly going into a tree that was going to survive and actually offset the carbon they intended it to. "This is green credit in the way that actually make a big impact for years to come."


— Matthew Yonan / President, Greenzone Inc.

It was really easy to find someone on oDesk to build my website on the Yahoo! solution. Before oDesk, I went to many people who were talented but just didn't build on the Yahoo! Web Hosting platform.

Having previously launched a successful business on the Yahoo! Small Business Platform, Yonan knew he wanted to use Yahoo! Web Hosting again. The freelancer he hired delivered a useless mess. Looking for someone to do it right, he came to oDesk, and quickly found a freelancer with a solid track record on the Yahoo! platform. "I gave him some small items to do first. When he got those done quickly, I gave him more, and pretty soon could tell I didn't need to look any further."

Once the freelancer had proven himself, Matt turned him loose on the job.

"I showed him what didn't work or was out of sorts, and he fixed it," Matt says. "He made certain forms work that didn't. He added some graphics I gave him that they'd missed. He helped me fix the checkout process so it worked."

Matt had already known he liked the Yahoo! platform, but the surprise this time was the ease of using oDesk.

"I was able to see what he was doing when he was working — unlike other marketplaces, where you get the finished product usually too late, and they've gone in the wrong direction," he says. "The bang for the buck that you get on oDesk is so much better than other marketplaces. It takes minutes a day to manage someone online through oDesk's technology, much less than meeting people and supervising them in person."

Leveraging Yahoo! on oDesk

"I used the Yahoo! platform to build my first successful business online — and created $4 million in sales, so I knew it works," Matt says. "It never went down and I never had a problem... If you want an easy-to-use, reliable platform with 24/7 support, they are hard to beat. They offer good tools and traffic stats for beginners and moderate users alike. They are easy to use and I have a number of domains and websites with them already — being able to manage all of them in one location is really convenient."

Matt says he likes the depth of talent in oDesk's marketplace, and our recently created Yahoo! Small Business Group means finding top-tier talent is even easier. He says he's continuing to find ways to make the most of his oDesk freelancers. "One of the suggestions that I would make is to create a team of preferred freelancers and hire them for the job whenever you need."

Matt's advice to freelancers:

  • Be upfront about your skills.
  • Treat small jobs like they're big jobs.
  • Be very responsive.
  • Have a portfolio — and make sure it's easy to browse.

About Greenzone Inc.

Greenzone Inc. buys, sells and verifies "green credits," like carbon credits focused on reforestation. "We read about Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hillary Clinton buying green credits off existing forests to offset their carbon footprint," says the company's president, Matthew Yonan. "That made no sense to us — wouldn't you want to spend the money on new trees getting planted? Ok — then we saw Coldplay did a green concert and paid to have 10,000 trees planted in India to offset the footprint of the concert — except all the trees died! And the concert was here in the States, so wouldn't you want the trees to be here also?" Planting more trees, more viably, and with on-site inspection is Greenzone's solution.