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Airtasker: Start-up offers 'physical' outsourcing for chores

Airtasker allows people to complete chores in their neighbourhood in exchange for payment.

Sydney-based start-up Airtasker today opened its site to the public, offering people the chance to compete for small chores — like cleaning the house or doing the shopping — that someone in their neighbourhood needs done.

'Airtask Runners' will be paid up to $1000 depending on the price set by the person posting the task.

Last week Airtasker conducted a short trial with a group of invited participants. "We had plenty of tasks posted in a really small environment, and we just wanted to finalise all the processes," said co-founder Tim Fung. "It ran really, really smoothly. Heaps of people got lots of tasks done."

The site, Airtasker.com, opened for business today for people in Sydney, but according to Fung, it should expand to other Australian cities soon. "We have to see how Sydney goes, but with the take-up that we've seen so far and how quickly it's growing, we think that Melbourne should be on the cards pretty soon and Brisbane after that," Fung said.

Fung said that Airtasker was inspired by "global collaborative consumption businesses" like Freelancer.com and 99 Designs. "What we really want to do is use the latest local and mobile technology to take that to the real grassroots level, similar to having the local community noticeboard where you find a guy to do your lawnmowing up the road," Fung said. "We can do the same thing online."

Tasks have ranged from fetching coffee for an office to writing a poem for someone's wife to planning a travel itinerary. I thought the travel itinerary one was really interesting. So basically it seems that when people are travelling to Europe there's just so many things that they have to do and I guess it's sort of like hiring a PA for a couple of hours to help you out with your travel plans."

Although some of the tasks can be completed online or over the phone, Fung said that Airtasker is focused on "connecting people in the local space to do physical jobs."

The maximum price that can be charged for a task is $1000, and the history of individual Airtask Runners' success in completing chores can be inspected. Airtasker charges Runners $2 as well as 5 per cent of the total value of a task.

The company intends to release an iPhone app, which is due out in the next few weeks. In addition, it is looking at other mobile platforms including Android and possibly an HTML5 site to offer a device-agnostic mobile experience.

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