This week, Delphine Vuagnoux chats with Tim Fung, the founder and CEO of Airtasker, a start-up dedicated to making your life much easier.
Airtasker looks to be the ideal solution when you’re too busy to juggle chores. Can you tell us more about it?
The idea came to me about one and half year ago: I was just moving houses and I was overwhelmed with assembling Ikea furniture and packing and unpacking dozens of boxes. It took me weeks to be ready to move and well settled down. I didn’t want a professional service but rather an extra help. I realised that there were hundreds in my situation who could use some extra-help. So I decided to meet this need by creating Airtasker (with co-founder Jonathan Lui). We launched last February and since then, more than 35, 000 people have joined Airtasker community.
Airtasker is an online and mobile marketplace that connects people seeking to outsource everyday tasks and errands with reliable people who can complete those tasks, aka the runners. After a first starting in Sydney, Airtasker communities are now present in Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane.
What’s the hardest challenge you’ve had to face work-wise?
Reliability. We are an open platform: anyone can join and offer one’s services. Trust is crucial to ensure the quality of the service and to provide the best customer experience possible. So far, runners created a profile and they were reviewed by the client once the job completed. We realised that we needed to improve the quality of service our platform provides for our users. Which means being able to screen more in-depth all runners. Our question was: how could we grant them a PRO status without spending an incredible amount of time or money? We met another startup, RecruitLoop through the Sydney startup community last August and together, we have partnered to create AirtaskerPRO program, that recognises the status and reliability of some runners by giving them a badge, after screening them thoroughly.
Any new plans before the end of 2012 that you’d like to share?
We just launched a Business version. We realised that that 50% of tasks posted are for small businesses. They’re looking for people to do small tasks, from data entry, to hand out promotional flyers or complete mystery shopping projects. Others include letterbox drops, office administration or call centre tasks. As being in a mobile market, it seemed obvious to develop our App, available on the App Store since a couple of weeks to all our Droid users, we’re almost there!
Who do you think is doing cool stuff in our industries? In terms of collaborative consumption?
Personally, I really like Airbnb…It’s a community marketplace for unique spaces. The idea is to connect people looking for a house tree or a flat or a room and people looking for renting these spaces…all around the world. Three years ago, no one knew them and now they have a huge community behind them.
I think people are more and more comfortable with all the resources available around us: there are plenty of information and data; people come in a community market, a platform and a transaction occurs which provides more data… Once it becomes viral, success is ensured. It may take a long time but every transaction makes the system stronger and more powerful.
And collaborative work?
I believe in collaborative work, in partnership that benefits both parties like what we did for AirtaskerPRO. I think that startups can help each other grow, by staying connected in the community. For example, our office is a part of Tank Stream Labs, a co-working and entrepreneur community located in the heart of Sydney CBD. And it’s absolutely great to be in such an inspiring work environment!
What is the most funny or weird task published ever?
Clients asking for runners to queue for the iPhone 5 release. The bids were from $50 up to $250. That shows that in a community marketplace, there is no limit to imagination!
What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur just starting off?
Something easy to say but not easy to do: to think from all angles. To be the bigger picture guy, to make things happen, you need to think through all the little chunks, end to end.
From my personal experience, I’d also add: relax two days at week. During the six first months following the launch of Airtasker, I breathed Airtasker, talked Airtasker, ate Airtasker. I was so focused on the work that I couldn’t do anything else. You may think being so committed to your work is an advantage but actually not at all. You are so stuck to your work that you can’t learn any new things. You can’t have any new ideas. So take the time to relax!!! Oh and stop looking at the numbers every two hours… doing it on a daily basis works much better.
About our ambassador // Delphine Vuagnoux is a community ambassador for Sydney. She is passionate about innovation and social change and a communications manager at All Together Now. You can find her on Twitter here: @delphinevuagnou.