Over 2 million people are using a 'digital noticeboard' to hire strangers to do extravagant tasks and errands - and they involve stormtroopers and fried chicken
- Over 13,000 people in the UK are using a new website to get people to do the tasks they don't have time to do.
- While some tasks are mundane like cooking and cleaning, they can be more bizarre.
- Past tasks have included dressing up as a stormtrooper to walk a bride down the aisle on her wedding day and flying to Texas to collect an engagement ring.
- The UK is Airtasker's first market outside of Australia, where its Taskers earn more than $100 million AUD each year.
Over 2 million people around the world - and now thousands in the UK - are using a website to get people to do the tasks they don't have time to get around to (or never dreamed someone would do for them) - and some of them are pretty bizarre.
Over 13,000 people have signed up on Airtasker since it launched in the UK on March 12, its first market outside of Australia.
The "community marketplace" acts as a digital noticeboard of sorts to connect people and businesses with members of the local community who are able to complete tasks to earn some extra cash.
It has more than two million members globally, and claims its Taskers earn more than $100 million AUD through the platform each year.
The most common tasks - of which around 5,000 are uploaded every day around the world - involve cleaning, removal, or jobs for handymen, but some are certainly more creative.
In the first week following its UK launch, tasks being uploaded on the site included re-stringing a squash racket, creating a 100-question pub quiz, and even building a snowman in London's Finsbury Square for £55.
Since then, a lot of the tasks have been food-related.
Here, a Tasker tracked down a sold-out Waitrose chocolate avocado easter egg...
...While another found and delivered two tubs of Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sultra Core within an hour.
Stormtroopers, engagement rings, and fried chicken
Lucas London, Airtasker's UK Country Manager, said: "The traction in terms of tasks/earning opportunities that we've seen in the first two weeks in London is what took us two years to achieve in Australia."
The standard of request is even more bizarre in Australia, where tasks have included flying to Texas to collect an engagement ring, dressing up as a stormtrooper to walk a bride down the aisle on her wedding day, and being paid to find the best fried chicken in Sydney. The company expects this to become the case in the UK, too.
That's according to Sydney-born Airtasker cofounder and CEO Tim Fung, who told Business Insider he came up with the idea while chasing success in more traditional ways.
After university, he started his career at investment bank Macquarie. "My soul was crushed, but I learned a lot of great things," he said.
In 2009, he decided he wanted to do something more creative, and joined modelling agency Chic Management - which has worked with the likes of Miranda Kerr - with the goal of being "like [Hollywood agent] Ari Gold from 'Entourage.'"
He also jumped at an opportunity to work on a telecom startup, Amaysim, which he called "like Ryanair in the mobile world."
The idea for Airtasker didn't come about until 2011 when Fung was moving apartments in Sydney.
"I asked one of my friends, Ivan, to come help me move. He runs a chicken nugget factory and he had a truck," he said.
Fung realised that instead of asking friends and family to help us with tasks like moving, assembling furniture, and packing boxes, there's no reason why we can't be asking members of the community who could stand to make some extra cash.
"In our community, we tend to have really low trust," he said. "People are pessimistic about people in their community and talk about them like they're strangers.
"[This is about putting] some simple systems in place to be able to trust people in your community."
Airtasker has raised $67 million in funding to date, according to the company.
It employs around 165 people around the world and completed a $35 million funding round in October last year for its UK launch.
Fung says some Taskers are earning $5,000 AUD (around £3,000) or more a month.
"You can definitely make a viable career out of it," he said. "Our highest earner made £95,000 in 12 months last year."
How it works
It's a demand-driven marketplace, according to Fung, which means users can say exactly what they're looking for and have people come to them rather than the other way around.
"It's not an agency model where you give your job to the agency and they go and find you someone," he said. "All of the tasks on Airtasker are proactive buy-in - rather than the jobs getting pushed, the jobs just exist and the workers can jump on."
It's free to post a task or sign up as a Tasker.
Once you post a task, you'll receive offers from Taskers, then can pick the one that's right for your job.
Taskers can add a number of verification badges to their profiles - including trade licenses, ID checks, and background checks - to promote themselves on the platform.
"The minimum is a verified phone number. We use more community verification vs. being a centralised background checking business," he said, adding that their verifications come along with reviews of the jobs they've done.
The more badges Taskers have, the more they're able to charge.
"60% of the tasks are not awarded to the person who makes the lowest offer - most of the time people are choosing people who have a bit more skill," he said.
However, the amount of experience and level of verification required is up to you. "It's no different to if you were hiring someone outside of Airtasker," Fung said.
"Of course if you're having someone come into your house like a babysitter, you want checks done. If you want 20 people to be extras in a movie or hand out flyers in the street, you probably don't want such rigorous checks."
You pay by credit card when you accept an offer, and once the job has been completed you hit a "release" button and the funds get transferred to the Tasker right away.
If the Tasker has done a great job, you can choose to leave them a bonus and if a task took longer or less time than expected, both parties can agree to adjust the price.
Robots and transparency
While some of the tasks are pretty bizarre - one Australian woman offered $500 AUD for someone willing to give her a secret pasta sauce after losing her grandmother's famous recipe - Fung said the site has a number of tools in place to ensure things don't get out of hand.
Users must agree to the site's guidelines when they register and can flag anything they see on the site as "inappropriate."
Fung said Airtasker has also developed an AI robot, called Alan, who "has learned from tasks that have been posted before, can predict what isn't going to meet our community guidelines, and pulls down stuff that's not appropriate."
He said the staff look at the tasks Alan has pulled down to determine whether or not they're OK to be on the site.
Insurance partner XL Catlin also covers cover Taskers for personal injury or property damage whilst completing a task.
"We don't want it to become something like Craigslist has become in some areas of the world," Fung added. "The number one thing for us is to create a culture of transparency."