May 222013

“Anyone who says something is crazy these days is crazy themselves,” says Jonathan Lui, the founder of Sydney based startup Airtasker.

The crazy idea Jonathan shares with co-founder Tim Fung is to create a global marketplace for small tasks.

If you need someone to walk your dog, do some gardening or be an extra in elaborate marriage proposal then Airtasker is a site to find the right person.

Since launching last year Airtasker has advertised more than 54,000 tasks with users looking for everything from dog walkers to computer repairers and actors.

Tim and Jonathan came upon the idea of a site for small tasks when moving house with the various hassles of cleaning, moving and packing. Instead of relying on friends and relatives to help out, they saw the opportunity for connecting willing workers with small tasks.

The site turns around how traditional classified advertisements work by paying on results rather than advertising. Lui sees it as “de-centralised social commerce.”

It’s not just small household tasks either, Jonathan sees Airtasker helping out larger companies with tasks like market research, mystery shopping or even local council inspections of street signs.

Unlike many of the crowdsourcing sites, the Airtasker team want to keep away from commoditising labour, instead seeing their ‘runners’ providing valuable local services.

One of the interesting aspects about the internet is how two opposite forces are working against each other – while the internet creates globalised marketplaces it also gives people new channels to discover local services.

Jonathan sees Airtasker as being at the forefront of hyperlocal marketplaces, with a global website enabling small traders and microbusinesses to deliver services locally.

That may be a crazy idea – but we live in crazy times.

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