Who’d have thought it would be possible to use your smartphone to mow the lawns, but late last year I took the opportunity to test out a service that allowed me to do just that – and it’s an impressive look into the future of business, commerce and trades and services.
I’ve interviewed many a tech startup in my time, and while I’d like to think they all go on to great success – in reality there’s probably a large percentage of them that didn’t end up making it or switched paths to another venture.
One though that I know full well is still chugging away, and doing so quite well is Airtasker.
When I interviewed founder Tim Fung a few years back he had an inherent passion and belief of the product he was offering and today that puts Airtasker on a solid trajectory toward an IPO (Initial Public Offering on the Stock Market) and something much much bigger as a result.
A few months ago Tim appeared again on my Podcast to talk about the news that Airtasker was now selling credit or vouchers in Australia’s largest supermarkets. This seemed strange in some ways, but the concept of “giving” someone a hand with whatever the heck they needed done actually sits quite well.
I’m convinced that the investment in the voucher program, the importance of being on a Woolworths and Coles store shelf and the huge billboards their placing all over the capital cities is a way of getting their name in the eyes of more and more people on that road to IPO.
But in all this time, I’d made just one attempt to use the service.
I think it was the release of Grand Theft Auto V – I wanted to get someone else to find the game, buy the game, and deliver it to me at home. First world lazy right?
It didn’t go perfectly, someone accepted the job but then couldn’t do it as I had described. That job still sits “unfinished” in my Airtasker account.
But in reality, that’s the extreme end of the services Airtasker is conceptualised to provide.
In simple terms, Airtasker is about listing a task you need performed and finding someone to perform it. It could be grabbing you an Ice Cream from the shops late at night, or it could be a handyman to come and install some shelves in the Laundry.
Looking at the scope of the listings on Airtasker, It seems to be moving quickly or predominantly toward that handyman style work.
Late last year the team at Airtasker asked me to give it a real try. They offered to put some credit in my Airtasker account and let me loose. Well, I didn’t need anything done. So that never happened.
Then the unexpected happened. I hit a bit of Lego on a Hoverboard, fell, broke my arm – became a useless sap except for some basic tasks.
The lawns became overgrown because they need almost weekly attention in Summer right? And Christmas was almost upon us and we had family coming round!
Late one Monday evening while the sun was still out I was wheeling out our Rubbish Bins for bin-night. I couldn’t stop looking at this damn ugly overgrowth of plants out the side of our house. And I realised, I could get the lawns mowed and maybe list a task to have that bloody thing removed?
So I said to the team at Airtasker – Right – lets do this. And I did. They gave me some Airtasker credit, in the same way that you would if you bought a voucher and gave it to a friend, and I listed two jobs, one to mow the lawns, one to remove the growth/plants.
Here’s where the free market economy and laws of supply and demand come perfectly into play.
I had to list a price. How much would it cost to mow the lawns? If I do it all in one hit it’s a solid half-day. And I wanted a bloody good job done. $100? No way. $150? Still seemed low. We settled on $200.
Then there was this garden work. That’s got to be a half day job or more – plus I need the waste taken away. I settled on about $500 for that.
I used my iPhone to take photos of the yard areas needing mowing, and of the crazy growth needing removal.
Worried those bidding wouldn’t know what was involved I even used an app to circle the plants I wanted removed.
Within minutes of finalising my listing I had bids on both jobs. Had I offered too much? Was this a sweet deal? Who cares I thought – I want a good job done.
Each of the bidders could leave comments, and or an actual bid for the work.
Strangely some people left comments that were clearly answered in the job description – no chance I’d give them the work! – and others didn’t put any effort in.
There was one listing that bid a lower price, offered themselves as providing great service and had a strong history.
Not unlike what we’ve become used to with eBay where we can see the buyer feedback, how many items they’ve listed etc. On Airtasker you can see comments from people who’ve used the bidders before and what rating they have.
I went with someone who offered to do both jobs, thinking that would make my life easy.
After a couple of text messages back and forth we’d arrange a time to come and all was good to go.
On the day I couldn’t be there to meet him, but when I got home the work was well underway.
During the day my neighbours commented how hard he had been working, and he consulted with me on the work needing done.
He left at the end of the day and I wanted to sign him up for life! Of course, that’s not in our family budget.
But that’s the point here right?
If you need your lawns done each week you’ll look for a local who can do it and find a good deal.
But if you just need something fixed, or perhaps you need a break once in a while – you list a task. You set the price you’re willing to pay for that, and if there are people willing to do the job at that rate – you’re off and racing.
The overall service was exceptional. The app worked a charm, website was simple to use and I didn’t feel I needed much of the process explained. Anyone could use Airtasker.
So, next time you need something done around the house – or perhaps just need someone to buy you chocolate when you can’t leave home – Airtasker’s got you covered.