Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Need a job? New app TaskRabbit expands to DFW
The software connects vetted skilled workers with a variety of odd jobs.
DALLAS Despite claims about Texas' strong job creation, the AP reports that the state's median income still has not recovered to its peak year 2000 level, leaving many willing workers living paycheck to paycheck. A San Francisco-based app that just launched in Dallas lets employable people take their frustrated desires for work into their own hands.
TaskRabbit is a web portal that connects thoroughly vetted skilled workers with paying jobs.
The site is open to both job posters and "Task Rabbits," as potential workers are called. The types of jobs range from personal assistant work, such as putting together IKEA furniture or grocery shopping, to office work and research tasks. Some "virtual" jobs can be handled remotely, like vacation planning or creating an effective dating site profile. You can even hire someone to wait in line at the Apple store when its newest product drops. Posters list requirements and prerequisites, and Task Rabbits bid for the jobs.
But, this is not a high-risk, anonymous platform like Craigslist: All Task Rabbits are put through background checks -- including criminal checks -- and they must connect their account to another public profile such as Facebook or Linked-In, said Johnny Brackett, TaskRabbit senior manager, marketing and communications. TaskRabbit encourages workers to upload video profiles, and Brackett said those who don't have access to recording devices often find that public libraries offer technological resources they can use. He said that many also choose to upload photos of their work, such as this San Francisco-based person, whose profile lists skills, background information, a friendly video and visual examples of work completed.
After jobs are completed, job posters submit brief reviews and a 1-5 star scale rating, much like a "Yelp for human beings," said Brackett.
Brackett is an SMU alumnus who began working for the company in
2008 2010. The company's expansion to Dallas coincided with launches in Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., but Brackett said that he had been "preaching Dallas' virtues" to the company for years.
"Dallas is super urban and populated, and it is comparable to Los Angeles in that it is widespread, but still highly-concentrated with potential workers," Brackett said. "Because of this, most Dallasites own or have access to cars and are accustomed to traveling a bit further than people in other cities."
This willingness to travel works well with TaskRabbit's logistical aspect. If, for example, a job poster in Oak Cliff needs an electrician for a particular project, both the poster and potential Task Rabbits with reliable transportation are able to bid and negotiate so that the best connection is made. Posters aren't as limited to Task Rabbits in their immediate neighborhoods, and Task Rabbits have the opportunity to travel for the best jobs.
"Commuting is normal in Dallas, and the city is friendly, warm and open," Brackett said. "There's definitely a neighborhood vibe here, despite its being widespread."
Brackett said that TaskRabbit has proven an easy way for highly-educated potential workers to make money in a difficult economy. He added that many appreciate the opportunity to work at their own pace and as their own boss. According to TaskRabbit marketing statistics, 75 percent of Task Rabbits have bachelors degrees, while 20 percent hold masters degrees and 5 percent have doctorates. Brackett said that the "most active" TaskRabbits earn between $6,000 and $8,000 per month, and that many find the lifestyle "addictive," utilizing the mobile app to access the site anywhere.
Job posters pay securely through the site when the task is completed, and no money is exchanged directly between posters or Task Rabbits. The company adds a 20 percent service fee to each task.
"It's like freelancing combined with crowd-sourcing," Brackett said. "Under- or unemployed people can earn significant income and, on the other side, busy people can gain more hours in their days by outsourcing tasks. Essentially, it's neighbors helping neighbors, and everyone wins."