My first impression of Farrel was of pure focus and directness as if sentence and gesture were calculated to be as efficient as possible. An air of drive surrounds him that seems to infect everyone nearby. He gives the impression that he dreams big and wastes little time. Farrel Brest is an Alumni with Gvahim’s Entrepreneurship Center (GEC), and has lived in Israel for the last 8 years. He founded Nine Tribes in the summer of 2019, only 6 months before this article. He lives in Tel Aviv.

Tell me about your career in Israel so far?

When I made Aliyah, I had the advantage of being a freelancer before moving to Tel Aviv. I already had a steady income with an existing portfolio of clients. This gave me the space to reinvent myself and create something new. It is difficult to move to a new country and to adapt to a new culture with vastly different rules. Yet the informal culture in Israel allows for innovative “messiness”, and I like that. After a while, I wanted to integrate into Israeli society and had a wide range of roles, from digital marketing for ad agencies to producing private and corporate events.

Tell me about Nine Tribes

“Nine Tribes is an online platform where brands and independent creatives meet to create digital work and it has evolved primarily through the collision of 21st-century work/lifestyles. We’re essentially combining a strategic and content agency style-service with a direct-to-collaborator approach”.

Nine Tribes is interesting, as it runs entirely on freelancers, and has no long-term employees. This is an approach more and more startups are taking. “This provides me and the team higher flexibility. Nine Tribes’ has a flat hierarchical structure, I don’t see myself as the boss: I like to empower the team to work when, where and how they want. No micromanagement needed. I refer to them as collaborators, not as employees”.

What led you to found the business?

“I wanted to create an agency where the output would depend on the nature of the client’s problem, not on us having a particular service or product. Placing the best interests of the client above the vested interests of the agency. That essentially means a neutral approach to communications channel planning. Agencies recommend Facebook, Instagram and Twitter because these are the roles and skills they have in-house on the payroll. Hiring additional freelancers reduces their profit margins.

For example, for one cryptocurrency client, I hired a Telegram marketing expert from the UK to run the project. Telegram is one of the best platforms for building communities in this category. She came with a lot of experience since the UK market is more developed than in Israel. I started looking for the best freelancers in specific niches, regardless of location to provide clients with the exact skills needed.”

What does your average working day look like? What does your average week look like?

“What’s interesting about my week is how we communicate and work together. We meet “face-to-face” on Google Hangouts, as most of the team is scattered worldwide. When we are closer by, we meet in cafes, in co-working spaces, and on Thursdays, we get together in my apartment and work collaboratively. I also work in my client’s offices. My favorite thing is being involved in so many startups. Meeting interesting and talented people, being a part of their culture and most importantly, I get to learn how they run their business.”

What benefits does Nine Tribes offer that a large company can’t?

“The painkiller: we take the pain of sourcing and verifying highly specialized collaborators. We consider ourselves a big-small agency. We have all the talent and resources to tackle any project. Yet feel like a boutique agency where you are one on one with myself and the account managers. It’s about access without ownership also – not all projects are full-time and clients can tap into the network to get work done without needing to source or manage it – giving them time to do what they do best.”

Where do you see Nine Tribes in the future?

We’re on our way to becoming a global network of independent entrepreneurs, each expert in their own media domains, empowering the agency to deliver cost-effective, impactful campaigns of any size and scale. Our work is suited to those adopting the new 21st century way of working and clients who want results without paying astronomical fees.

Photography by Gili Levinson