Website creates commerce from errand running

September 15, 2010 8:37:27 AM PDT
Are you willing to pay to have someone run your nuisance errands? Or, do you have a car, some spare time and the urge to make a little extra money? There's a new website designed for people with either or both - it's called TaskRabbit.

Laura Surmer wants to run a few bags of old clothes to the Goodwill. She also wants to cash in a bag of coins at a nearby supermarket, but she doesn't want to do it herself. Joshua Leavitt of San Francisco is going to run Laura's errands while she stays home and works on the computer. The two of them never met until today, when she hired him to do her running. Their connection came through TaskRabbit.

"I would never hire a personal assistant, someone my age - that would be awkward, I can't afford it. Just getting a pair of extra hands every now and then can really help me knock things off my to do list," said Surmer.

Here's how it works, Surmer posts a job that she's willing to pay for on the TaskRabbit website. Potential runners bid for the job. For example, Josh may say 'I'll do it for $10 an hour plus expenses.' If the price is right commerce ensues.

"I love it - it's a much better use of my free time then not making money, so I figure why not," said Leavitt.

Leavitt is among the 70 percent of TaskRabbit runners who are underemployed or unemployed. Getting to be a runner involves an interview and a background check -- so that the customers feel safe and as though they got their money's worth.

"TaskRabbit's reputation system makes me feel a lot safer to trust people in my home. If 10 other people have used someone and said 'this is just a neighbor, this is someone in your community out there to make an extra buck.' Why should I think they're going to try to cheat me or take something from me?" said Surmer.

TaskRabbit isn't the first website to advertise this service. Craigslist has done it for years. The difference is that background check, which is designed to make people who use the service feel safer -- especially women at home with children.


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