The Mobile Marketplace: Get Your Errands Done Out of Nowhere
Have you ever been out somewhere and thought, I wish someone would bring me a coffee?
Well, now you can turn that thought into reality by harnessing the people power of the strangers you pass by everyday.
There are a few ventures popping up on the web that take advantage of the so called "mobile marketplace." These ventures take the "People are basically good" philosophy of eBay and combine it with the online classifieds aspect of Craigslist, while adding something entirely fresh and innovative.
Now, strangers from your community can be recruited in real-time through your mobile phone or direct through the website to complete tasks, provide services or exchange goods and all it takes is a negotiated electronic payment to the volunteer. Suddenly, you can hire someone to get what you need, or get what you need done, instantly and no cash has to physically change hands.
This is the concept behind the new mobile marketplace, but there are many online options to choose from and slight variations of the concept in each one, so let us help you sort out the three heavyweights in the market and outline the pros and cons of each one.
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Zaarly was born on Start-Up Weekend in Los Angeles in February 2011. The event is spread over 54 hours and features groups of entrepreneurs pitching ideas for start-up companies to a group of high-powered judges that may also serve as investors if they like the ideas enough. Zaarly's COO Eric Koester wasn't even planning to pitch anything. He and CEO Bo Fishback were on the board of StartUp Weekend and were just going down to check out the scene, but then they started tossing around this idea.
"Imagine a world where you're in line at Starbucks and someone in the same building broadcasts over your network that they could really go for a coffee right now and you just pick one up because it's no imposition on you and could make $5 just for helping someone out," says Koester.
So basically, you post what you want, (need a DJ for a wedding, looking for a couch, or need someone to pick up my dry cleaning) how much you want to pay for it and then you just wait for offers.
This idea was extremely popular, with many people offering to work with Koester and Fishback. They eventually met Ian Hunter, the third founder of Zaarly and its CTO. After working through the weekend, the three made their presentation and took home first place, with one of the judges, actor Ashton Kutcher offering to invest in the concept and help bring Zaarly to life as a legitimate business.
"There's this perception out there that you need to develop mionions to do your bidding and be your personal assistant, but we are really trying to avoid that," says Koester. "Our users are much more about users helping each other and creating connections and less so about like, 'I'm this busy person and I'm going to find this disenfranchised person who don't have anything to do and get them to do my errands for me."
Instead, they're trying to simply create a more transparent, buyer controlled market governed by communication and trust, using technology to allow people to communicate their needs and reward people through commerce for fulfilling them at their discresion.
"Transparency means communicating what they're looking for and what they're willing to pay for it and that's broadcast to everyone in our network. The communication comes in when you're communicating back and forth with someone who has offered to provide what you want and making it possible and the third part is trust. We have a profile system that can educate people about your background, search your prior transactions and your feedback history," Koester continues.
For Zaarly it's not about highlighting the division between the haves and the have nots, but allowing people to communicate what they want and giving them an easier, cleaner and more transparent way to communicate it. It's ultimately about efficency of commerce.
- Buyer dictated transaction terms
- Electronic Payment Method
- Background profile, credential and ratings system
- Ease of use
- Majority of postings cater to goods and services
- Money held in escro if there's an issue with the transaction
- Minority of postings cater to tasks and errands
- Not yet available in Canada, but international expansion starts in 2012.
Task Rabbit was founded in 2008 by Leah Busque and was so buzzworthy, it was once touted as a solution to America's debt crisis by ABC Nightly News and every month $4 million dollars worth of tasks are transacted through the website.
Pretty good for an idea that was spawned while Busque and her husband were waiting for a cab. "We were living in Boston and had called a cab to pick us up for dinner when we realized we were out of dog food. We had this 100 pound yellow lab named Kobe who had to eat," she told BusinessInsider.com.
"My husband and I were in technology and we had these geeky conversations in the house. That night it turned into, 'Wouldn't it be nice to go somewhere online and say,'We need dog food,' name a price we'd be willing to pay, and find someone in our neighborhood, maybe at the store that very moment, who could help us?'"
That kernel of an idea turned into Task Rabbit, which, by comparison, seems much more tightly controlled and less of a free for all than Zaarly. On it, people post tasks they need done and the maximum amount they are willing to pay, but instead of anyone answering the bell and doing the task for you, it's registered, background checked and vetted Task Rabbits from your local community who bid to do the task. The Task Rabbit with the lowest bid automatically is assigned the task. You then pay them online, with a 15% service fee going to the business and the rest going to the Task Rabbit.
"We ask for your credit card upfront when you're posting a task. You never have to pay until the task is complete. This ensures our Task Rabbits will get paid, which adds another level of safety, security, and trust. For the task poster, you never have to have cash and everything goes through the payment platform that we've created on Task Rabbit," Busque continued in the Business Insider interview.
From the poster's perspective, Task Rabbit is a thing of beauty. After all, you can pay someone to do those menial daily tasks that I'm sure you never wanted to do in the first place, but there have also been some incredibly dark allegations leveled at Task Rabbit by their working army of Task Rabbits. Sure, the buyer is protected through background checks, electronic payments and setting the price, but there is apparently no protection for the Task Rabbits.
Certainly there is no safety net; we're independent contractors, not employees. It's up to us to take care of ourselves, it's up to us to decide what we will and will not do. No one is obligated to pay minimum wage, and that happens again and again and again. I have worked 12 and 15 hour days doing really strenuous physical labor and had $80 to show for it," says one Task Rabbit in an anonymous interview conducted by Business Insider.
"it's very much people wanting peasants, anonymous elves to come in during the night and do the dirty work, and they don't want to pay very much, and the markup on the task is actually much higher than what they claim it to be. They claim the markup is 15%. It's actually more like 70%."
There's also no insurance to cover them in the event that something happens and obviously, no union,so that might be something to keep in mind if you're planning to post a Task there.
For their part, the company did respond to these concerns by saying that they do verify the identity of Task Posters and will be launching a review and reputation system for Task Posters as well and if an incident is reported they are banned from the site. Task Rabbits are also given a manual when they are employed by the site that recommends ways they can protect their personal safety. They also say that while 15% is the average service fee, sometimes they do take more than that to offset those tasks that are not completed for whatever reason.
- Vetted and background checked Task Rabbits perform the Tasks
- The buyer sets the price they are willing to pay
- The tasks are organized by category
- Electronic payment
- The site is 100% task based and there are no goods or services
- Little protection for the Task Rabbits
- Not available in Canada
- Limited to nine areas - Boston, New York City, San Fransisco, San Antonio, Austin, Seattle, LA and Orange County, Chicago and Portland
Fiverr was founded in 2010 by Israeli entrepreneurs Micha Kaufman and Shai Winiger under the philosophy that the average nine to five working day is not the only way to earn a living. They wanted to make it possible for people to outsource their talents at a standardized price a wide variety of people around the world could afford.
The price decided on was five dollars. (hence, the name) Now, visitors can choose from over 500,000 gigs, from singing you Happy Birthday to spraying your logo on the moon (Unfortunately, not the real one) all for $5. A buyer simply selects a gig, pays $5 through Paypal or a credit card and then gets to track the sellers progress and exchange communication. Once they have the finished work, the buyer has 48 hours to ask for changes and then they have an opportunity to provide feedback and review. The seller can post any gig they're willing to do and they get paid upon completion and the expiration of that 48 hour adjustment window. They get $4 through Paypal with $1 going to Fiverr to keep the lights on.
One of the biggest strikes against Fiverr is that you can only earn five dollars per task, but new features introduced in January 2012 make the prospect of completing Fiverr gigs slightly more lucrative. Through Gig Extras, sellers can attatch optional additional tasks to their gigs at an additional cost of up to $20. There's also a multiples feature, which allows one buyer to order multiple tasks from one seller. Express highlights gigs that would be delivered within 24 hours or less and DamnQuickPay allows you to place a payment without having to log into PayPal each time.
- All gigs are incredibly affordable at $5
- Gigs divided by category.
- Goods and services both available.
- Tasks are small and incredibly unique
- Electronic Payments
- navigation simple and straight forward
- More features allow for a variety of gig formats and payment styles
- Available internationally, including Canada
- seller driven market
- Not a lot of money can be made at $5 a gig
- 48 hours before you receive your money.
- Chore based tasks not really available