December 19, 2014

TaskRabbit Switches Business Models

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It’s interesting how we’ve decentralized so many services. No longer do we have to hire a taxi to take us to the airport, punch buttons trying to schedule a repairman to come fix a hole in the wall, or shell out what a moving service charges.

TaskRabbit is one of the companies leveraging this crowdsourcing trend. Essentially, the site connects people willing to do things like help people move, clean houses, repair things, or help with other personal tasks people need to get done. While the company has been in business since 2008 and expanded to 19 cities globally, the model wasn’t perfect.

A Work in Progress

Up until recently, the site operated on a bidding system:

1. You visit the site and post a job.

2. You wait and receive bids from service providers.

3. You choose the one that best fits what you want.

Apparently, that model wasn’t working for the brand, which is on track to bring in 2.5 million new clients this year. After in-depth research and analysis of its London operations — as well as ample feedback from users — TaskRabbit decided to tweak its service to offer one-click hiring that takes the waiting for bids out of the equation.

Taskers (those taking on the jobs) now post their hourly rate so that Clients can easily see how much a task will cost and how long it will take to complete.

Too Many Projects, Not Enough Time

Additionally, TaskRabbit realized that there were simply too many tasks for its Taskers to handle, so it came up with an innovative algorithm that matches users on both sides of the platform for the best fit. In an email interview Johnny Brackett, PR Lead at TaskRabbit told Small Business Trends:

“We had to change the product because demand (task posting) was outpacing what we could efficiently match with our supply (i.e., our Taskers). We saw that our Taskers were spending up to two hours a week just browsing through tasks to bid on. In recent months, it became evident that the current product was not efficiently matching Clients who needed something done with the most appropriate Tasker for the job.”

Other Improvements

Given that there are over 25,000 Taskers using the platform, with 10 percent doing it as a full-time job and 75 percent relying on the brand to pay their bills, it was smart of TaskRabbit to listen to both Taskers and clients in its brand pivot. Taskers now have better communication and scheduling tools, as well as user-friendly mobile apps.

TaskRabbit is also providing peace of mind to both sides of the equation with $1 million in insurance coverage.

While there has been some initial frustration from long-time users with the new system, which launched last week, here’s hoping the new platform is a success.

Image: TaskRabbit

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Susan Payton - Awards Communication Mgr.


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

10 Reactions

  1. The insurance is a big one, but it sounds like they solved some real inefficiencies in the system. I’m not surprised though, since most businesses undergo this type of situation where they need to tweak their offering to better serve clients. Good for TaskRabbit for listening and making the changes.

    • Actually, if you talk to the vast majority of taskers and task posters, they made things MUCH worse. Listening is exactly what they haven’t done. It’s next to impossible to get many tasks done now.

      • Gayle is 100% right. They have turned a good way to earn extra money into a nightmare. And not only for customers but for the people doing the work. I have not received one job since the change over. I have talked to customers who have done nothing but complain about the switch.
        They have made a major mistake and i fear that do to investors they are afraid to admit thats its a failure. Contrary to Mrs.busque’s claims of a 400% increase in revenue for rabbits. The top earners before the switch in my area are now wondering how they will pay their rent. And some former Rabbits are now building their own service companies to rebuild what Busque has destroyed with her improvements.
        It’s a total nightmare. DONT BELIVE THE HYPE!

  2. Former raving fan of Task Rabbit. Their new model shifts the burden of finding help from the people who are paid, to the people who are paying. Bad move guys.

    I suspect that one reason: “We had to change the product because demand (task posting) was outpacing what we could efficiently match with our supply (i.e., our Taskers)” was due to the 20% fee they charge people. 20% is ALOT of cash to hand over for the cost of using a platform – especially for people charging $12 – $25 an hour. Elance charges about 9%. The contractor passes that on to me, and I am happy to pay it.

    Instead of asking themselves why more Taskers weren’t signing up, they decided to keep their fees high, and burden the people who actually spend the money. Bottom line: As the person doing the hiring, I don’t want to figure out who is the best fit. I want people to have the ability to tell me why I should hire them. I want options. I take the time to write a post for a job, I’d like someone to take the time to reply. This new system is “hit and miss”… I have to reach out to a Tasker, see if there’s a fit and if not, try again. What a waste of my time.

    In the end, I am bummed. Over the past year I’ve hired for over 150 contractors worldwide using Elance (we are a virtual training company). I was hoping TR would fill my “local’ needs. Task Rabbit wants people like me to leverage their site… and according to their PR guy there are lots more like me that want to hire their people. Why earth didn’t they make it easier to get more Taskers using their platform so they could fill demand? While I am suspect this was their goal, so far they seems to have really missed the mark. I am off to Craigslist and Care.com to find the help I need.

    • KMS/Gayle–
      Sorry to hear your side of the story isn’t as happy. Here’s hoping they work out the kinks for both sides of the coin.

      • They aren’t really kinks. The new system will never work; primarily because it strips the taskers of the ability to choose jobs, and it strips the posters the ability to choose taskers. The freedom for both sides to do the aforementioned acted as the foundation for taskrabbit’s entire business.

        The notion that it’s workers are now supposed to obediently line up in some miles long bread-line and have work doled out by an algorithm is violently misguided.

        Furthermore, I used taskrabbit to supplement my existing business that lay outside what they’ve rebranded to be their core areas of use (errand running, essentially).

        While I picked up a lower number of tasks per week than most of the top taskers, eventually I moved to an elite because my wage as a professional was substantially higher than the wage earned as an errand runner. This is the case, as well, for all the skilled members of taskrabbit. Videographers, graphic designers, photographers, web designers, wordpress developers, programmers, etc.

        My last completed job on taskrabbit was billled out at 100/hour. And it wasn’t for cleaning out somebody’s fridge.

  3. patricia levy-phillips

    Leah, you may be facing a painful transformation . Boycott and class action suit.

  4. I started this petition to encourage task rabbit to return to it’s previous format. Please read, sign and share this petition if you agree this change has been detrimental to taskers and task posters alike. http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/tell-taskrabbitcom-to?mailing_id=24160&source=s.icn.em.cr&%3br_by=3196544&r_by=3196544
    Leah Busque has been telling the media that this change is beneficial to taskers, but has been deleting negative comments on user forums and has disabled commenting ability for taskers on support pages for the taskrabbit website.
    Another awesome feature the previous format offered that has been done away with by this change is the “quick assignment” option. Task posters were able to post a specific, detailed task, with price they are paying, location and when the wanted it done, then ANY task rabbit could click to have themselves assigned to the task. That feature no longer exists and all tasks posted still require a lengthy back and forth chat between poster and tasker to confirm the tasker’s ability to complete the job.

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