Australian job’s marketplace, Airtasker, has acquired Melbourne-based odd jobs outsourcing business Occasional Butler, cementing its lead as Australia’s leading online platform for outsourcing local services. The service already claims 130,000 community members across Australia and an annual task run rate of over $4 million, with its growth tripling so far in 2014. Airtasker offers an on-demand army of skilled workers being called on to do everything from standing in a six-hour queue for the Game of Thrones exhibition to delivering Gelato Messina cakes to hungry office workers. A Sydney surgeon used an Airtasker to fly to the US and pick up an engagement ring. Occasional Butler was founded in 2012 by Erz and Jodie Imam, who have built a large community of thousands of people helping each other get things done. The pair will now join Airtasker as community development advisers. Tim Fung told StartupSmart the deal is designed to help Airtasker’s mission of becoming Australia’s largest services marketplace. “In 2012, there were three companies operating with slight differences in a similar space – the local services marketplace,” Fung says. “What we saw was there were very slight differences between the services. So, for example, Occasional Butler was based in Melbourne and was focused on building a strong user base there. “A larger marketplace is exponentially better than a smaller one. So a platform with 20 users is not just twice as good as one with 10 users – it’s many, many times better.” Similar logic motivated Airtasker’s earlier takeover of TaskBox in February 2013, which focused on building its user base predominantly in the Northern and eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Alongside the purchase of Occasional Butler, the company plans to expand its services to the United States, and is exploring other opportunities for international expansion. However, the move will potentially see Airtasker compete head-to-head against established services such as TaskRabbit, which claims to have added 1.5 million users in the past year alone. According to Fung, a key difference will be that where TaskRabbit focuses on commodified services, Airtasker will focus on jobs where there’s a degree of subjectivity involved in the person performing the job. “In general, their approach is based on an ‘on-demand’ model – what they call ‘Uberfication’ – where you post a job, they push it out to their base and find someone to do it. It’s a good model for ‘fixed verticals’ such as transport, where a lift is a lift,” Fung says. “In the small jobs marketplace, there’s much more variability. So with something like logo design, for example, many can provide the same service in a different way. People want to choose which one they want.” News of the deal comes as TaskRabbit announced it is abandoning its auction model, in favour of flat rates for different jobs. “When it comes to TaskRabbit, their new approach is something we’ll watch very closely,” Fung says.
It turns out the casualization of labour is not a Gen Y phenomenon. At least, that has been the experience of one Australian startup. When Australian small job listing marketplace Airtasker first launched they believed their target market would be young university students wanting flexible casual jobs. Two years later, the over-55 market makes up as much of their users as their younger Gen Y counterparts. Co-founder and CEO Tim Fung says they noticed the growth in older Australians signing up to their site about six months after they launched, believing it at first to be an anomaly. As it stands, their top “runners” (people who post frequent jobs on Airtasker and get positive feedback) mostly fall into the older age bracket, growth that has been completely organic. Fung says he believes the success of this age-bracket on their site is down to their strong work ethic and their years of accumulated experience. “We’ve got people with fantastic experience listing on the site, there’s an ex-Silicon Valley engineer and an ex-SMCG marketer,” Fung says. “Most of the users of the site are very digitally savvy and know how to promote themselves.” He put the attraction of Airtasker to this market segment down to the fact that they often faced discrimination by large employers as well as being too young to access their super, so they were still looking for a means to support themselves. The unexpected market segment had seem them change some of the branding and appeal of the site, originally targeted at the younger market, with pictures showing youthful uni students replaced with realistic ones of the older demographic. Airtasker, which is not dissimilar to virtual marketplaces Elance-oDesk and Australia’s Freelancer, has seen 50% market growth month-on-month. While still a tiny market play compared to its behemoth cousins, its focus is on hyper-local job listings, which mostly require a physical presence, though there are some virtual listings. Airtasker founders Tim Fung and Jonathan Lui
With so many apps available and created every day, how do you know which ones are the best for your purposes? We asked five entrepreneurs to tell us which apps they can’t live without and why. There are some that were common – nearly everyone listed Dropbox – and others a little more for the times when they aren’t working. Are there any other apps you can’t live without? Mark McDonald – co-founder and managing director of app developer Appster EverNote – The perfect app for capturing ideas and concepts between meetings and while travelling. I love that it syncs up to my Macbook Pro as well, so wherever I am I can find important ideas. ZombieRun – Staying fit sucks. But when you are running from zombies it's more fun, I really love how this app gamified the process of jogging. Things 2 – I'm a workaholic but also have the attention span of a small child, that's why using Things 2 as a way to manage my daily activities, projects and responsibilities in a really simple interface has doubled my productivity. James Wakefield – co-founder and managing director of online tailoring firm InStitchu Asana – Asana is an excellent app that helps our entire team manage and organise tasks and projects across all areas of the business. Before we used Asana, we had so many unnecessary emails going back and forth across members. Now, each individual project has a to-do list, saved in the cloud, enabling each of us to view updates and changes as they’re made. Asana is also fully integrated with our CRM, which is an additional bonus! Evernote – Evernote is the perfect note-taking app for every entrepreneur. Because it syndicates across all of your devices, I’m able to make notes and save attachments on the go, using my iPhone and I’ll later revisit these on my laptop or iPad. It's saved me many times when I have been travelling and haven’t had access to the internet. There was an instance where I had saved my hotel reservation form to Evernote, and was able to access it from the back of a taxi in Shanghai on a sourcing trip. Without it, I wouldn’t have had a clue where I was heading! Dropbox – We back up everything on Dropbox, again because the cloud is such an integral part of our business. Dropbox provides us the storage that we need to save large files too, like high-resolution images of suits and shirts. Every single program we use at InStitchu is cloud based and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have the freedom to jump on any computer, anywhere in the world to access all of my programs and via Dropbox, all of my files! Story continues on page 2. Please click below. Tim Fung – co-founder and chief executive of online tasks outsourcer Airtasker Dropbox – An oldie but a goodie. I use DB across all the companies that I work in and love the fact that I can access my files from anywhere, including from my iPhone. The app can be a little bit pervasive (trying to get you to store and sync all of your personal photos, etc) but it does make life pretty easy and is good risk management in case you lose your device. GoCatch – A really good taxi hailing app. I use these guys to grab taxis between meetings and the office to make sure I'm not waiting outside on busy days. It's a super simple app and also lets me keep track of my taxi receipts, which is a plus. Pocketbook – An easy to use app for tracking your personal budget. You just link up your bank accounts and credit cards and then PB sends you an update each week to let you know if you're overspending or within budget. They also have a bunch of features to monitor and analyse where you're spending and where you could save. Andrew Ward – managing director of online investment community SelfWealth LinkedIn app – As an entrepreneur, LinkedIn on your iPhone/on the move is invaluable. Each time you read a media story about other entrepreneurs, or a story related to your target market, connecting to these related parties ASAP is a must. Ingogo – The taxi booking app. This is a must for an entrepreneur getting around in the boondocks and racing to get to that next meeting. Cricket Australia’s "Live" app – I'm a cricket tragic; enough said. Ben Cohn – co-founder of mobile self-storage firm TAXIBOX Swann View – Swann View gives us live, streaming access to our surveillance systems through an iPhone. It’s an incredible feeling waking up every morning and seeing the entire company running smoothly – without us! Dropbox – The Dropbox app seamlessly integrates with Dropbox Desktop and allows us to run a large portion of TAXIBOX’s operational processes without having to be near a computer. Face Swap – Because there’s nothing quite like seeing your parents swap genders!
On-line Australian start-up Airtasker has joined forces with internet job search website CareerOne to make short-term work opportunities available to full-time job seekers. Airtasker, which was founded last year, connects people and businesses seeking to outsource everyday tasks such as deliveries, office work or odd jobs around the house with trusted, reliable people able to complete those tasks. Under the partnership, CareerOne’s 1.3 million monthly job seekers will be paired up with relevant task-based employment opportunities on Airtasker while searching for full-time jobs on CareerOne. Airtasker’s co-founder and chief executive, Tim Fung, explained to StartupSmart that under the partnership, if someone searched for a media job on CareerOne, tasks on Airtasker that might relate to the search, such as a graphic design project, would show up in the search results. “We get to distribute our content in a really big user environment,” he says of the connection with CareerOne. Fung says revenue generated under the partnership would be shared between Airtasker and CareerOne but declined to provide details. He says CareerOne, which is a joint venture between News Corp and Monster Worldwide, is not taking any equity in Airtasker under the deal and that Airtasker would remain an independent start-up and everything on its platform “stays as is”. CareerOne’s chief executive, Karen Lawson, says in a statement the partnership with Airtasker enabled job seekers to tap into all types of employment opportunities in one place as the number of casual and flexible job types grow. “Employers, whether they be businesses or individuals are increasingly looking for people to help with individual tasks or short-term projects,” she says. “The burgeoning ‘task economy’ is a natural extension of the online job market and we see plenty of opportunity for both job seekers and employers to benefit by making it easier for them to connect.” The statement says that, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 13.1% of the workforce were looking for more work or were “discouraged” jobseekers unable to find work because employers consider them too young or old, lack necessary training or experience, or cannot find a job locally. It says the figures signal an emerging opportunity for more flexible, task-based employment for Australians seeking additional work. Fung says Airtasker is looking at opportunities to expand overseas. Airtasker generates revenue by taking 15% of the final price agreed for a task to be completed between the person needing a task done and the person who completes the task.
Sydney-based start-up Airtasker has made its first acquisition after launching just one year ago, picking up smaller competitor TaskBox, as it seeks to ramp up growth here and overseas.
Sydney-based start-up Airtasker has commenced operations in Melbourne and now intends to embark on a nationwide expansion, after securing $1.5 million in funding.
After completing a $1.5 million seed funding round, Airtasker is hoping to make itself known in its hometown of Sydney and then right across the country.