news Airtasker, a new online community marketplace based in Australia that lets people outsource everyday tasks and chores to ‘runners’ — local community members looking to earn some extra money — was launched on February 21, according to a media release issued by the company this week.
A brainchild of web entrepreneurs Tim Fung and Jonathan Lui, Airtasker aims to provide a platform where people who need help with everyday jobs can connect with people in their local area who are looking to earn some extra cash by running errands, completing handyman tasks and doing other odd jobs.
According to Fung: “Everyone has an Airtasker moment, where they need someone to help with a chore or painful task they’ve been ignoring for weeks or just aren’t capable of doing themself.” He said he realised there was a marketplace for these types of tasks when he himself moved house and was helped by a friend to set things up. The media release says posting a task on Airtasker is free and takes just a couple of minutes. You pay only what you think a task is worth and when it’s completed.
To get a task done, you post on Airtasker what you need done and how much you are willing to pay for the service. Runners (local community members interested in doing the task) can ask questions and then make an offer to help. You can then check the Runner’s profile, history and ratings and once you’re satisfied, you can assign the job to the Runner. Once the Runner completes the task, you can pay with cash or securely through Airtasker’s PayPal facility.
Runners pay Airtasker a fee of $2 plus five per cent of the value of the task being completed. As a special promotion from launch, Runners can start using Airtasker for free without having to provide their payment details if they simply spread the word about Airtasker on either Facebook or Twitter.
Features like ‘Task Walls’—to let people chat about a task before working together, and an SMS system to verify users’ payment information and phone numbers have been built into Airtasker to make the platform safe and to help people get a better picture of who they will be working with. The release says members are also encouraged to gather references and feedback reviews from people they work with.
Users can set up an Airtasker profile or can sign up using Facebook Connect, which may help add to the trust and safety level by allowing users to check out other people’s real profiles (public Facebook profiles only) and mutual connections before deciding to accept a Runner to carry out a task. People can also see if friends have worked with other community members earlier, thus increasing the confidence with which people use Airtasker.
Fung draws inspiration from the success of other collaborative online communities and is confident that Airtasker is going to be a big hit in Australia. “We’re launching Airtasker today in Sydney and plan to expand cross country pretty quickly,” he said. Research carried out by Pure Profile for Airtasker showed that 40 per cent of people would be willing to assemble someone else’s furniture to earn some extra cash. Other survey findings:
- 84% of Aussies surveyed weren’t on top of all their life admin chores, with one or more tasks sitting untouched
- More than 50% of Aussies spend four or more hours per week doing household chores — more than two working days per month
- 70% of Australians would pay up to $20 to outsource their most hated errand whilst more than 30% of Australians would pay up to $40
- The task people hate the most and put off as long as possible is cleaning the bathroom and toilet (28%)
- 20% of men said that they were on top of everything whereas only 12% of women said they were on top of all their chores
Tasks people are most willing to do to earn some extra cash were Data entry or filing (73% of those surveyed); Buying or delivering groceries (48%); Walking a neighbour’s dog (46%) and assembling IKEA furniture (40%).
It’s not a bad idea that Airtasker has going here, and it’s clearly using the same crowdsourcing transactional model that has worked well in other categories (I’m actually wondering if AirBnB would have something to say about Airtasker’s brand name). However, I can’t see this startup taking off in the short-term. The reason is that there are geographical barriers to entry here.
The reason why many other crowdsourcing startups (DesignCrowd is a good example work so well is that they are not dependent upon geography. Anyone in the world can carry out tasks from the comfort of their home office. However, in Airtasker’s case, many of its tasks require those carrying them out to be physically present (the aforementioned assembling IKEA furniture. This changes the cost model.
If you’re going to drive for 20 minutes (a minimum in Sydney to go across town) to get to a location to carry out a task, that increases the cost a fair bit. And I’m not sure if people are going to be willing to pay that much for simple tasks to be carried out for them. In small, dense locations where a lot of people are clustered (around universities, for example), I can see it working. However, in these sorts of locations, people are probably already too cheap to pay for this kind of stuff.
I’m happy to be proven wrong, though ;)
Image credit: Airtasker. Opinion/analysis by Renai LeMay.