Business

Assembly required? TaskRabbits can handle that. Odd-job service launches Thursday in Triangle.

Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of TaskRabbit
Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of TaskRabbit Courtesy of TaskRabbit

An online service that connects vetted odd-jobbers with people who are willing to pay for help with their chores will launch operations in the Triangle on Thursday

San Francisco-based TaskRabbit started in 2008 and has expanded to two dozen cities, capitalizing on a ready supply of un- or under-employed workers and a base of customers who can’t – or won’t – complete their to-do lists on their own. Some of these are jobs that recent college graduates once relied on Daddy to perform, or that siblings or roommates would knock out on a Saturday afternoon.

Mounting a TV on a wall. Assembling an Ikea bookcase. Re-caulking a window. Installing curtain rods.

But instead of asking a friend or relative for a favor that’s repaid with a pizza or a couple of beers, a homeowner or renter using TaskRabbit gets a jack-of-many-trades who might bill, in this market, $35 an hour.

Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of TaskRabbit, said the company started in coastal cities and has expanded into markets where customers say the service would be welcome.

“We go where demand is happening,” Brown-Philpot said by phone. “Before we decided to launch in Raleigh, we had people who found the (web)site and asked that TaskRabbit be in Raleigh. So we know we have latent demand, and we know we have enough taskers when the site goes live.”

Here’s how it works: “Taskers” register online, agreeing to submit to identity and background checks. They answer questions about the types of vehicles they can use for tasks. A bike? A moving truck? They describe the kind of work they are qualified to do, their availability and the distance they are willing to travel to perform jobs.

Clients go to taskrabbit.com or use the company’s mobile app to request a particular service and make arrangements with suggested taskers.

TaskRabbit_Logo_vertical_Lockup
Courtesy of TaskRabbit

According to its website, TaskRabbit’s taskers are not employees, but independent contractors who control their own schedules and are responsible for building their own business. Taskers set their own rates and bill through the company, which collects a fee. Taskers and their clients arrange when a job will be done. Those who request help on Thursday, Brown-Philpot said, should be able to get the job done on Friday.

Brown-Philpot said the service starts in a new city with a set, though undisclosed, number of taskers and expands with demand. Typically, she said, taskers are between 35 and 45 years old and while some want to work a 40-hour week, most have other jobs and want only about 10 hours a week worth of extra chores.

TaskRabbit’s customers, Brown-Philpot said, “are middle-class working families who have very busy lives.”

They have a lot of responsibilities, she said, and are looking for ways to make life easier, “so they can spend more times with their kids or their friends, or just relax and read a book.” Many are millennials, now in their 20s and 30s and learning that in life, much assembly is required. They want to establish their first home, but they may not be willing to invest half a day and a bloodied knuckle to put together a wine rack with a 12-page instruction booklet.

Eventually, Brown-Philpot said, the company also will connect taskers who want to volunteer their labor with local nonprofits that need help.

The CEO said she understands that some people would never pay someone else to do a job they could do themselves, even if they had to watch a YouTube video to learn how. But not everyone has the time, the right tools or the temperament to tackle every task.

“My mom was the same way,” Brown-Philpott said. “She couldn’t understand it. But now we have this big event at our house every year, and there is this guy, Eric, who helps out with it. Now when it’s time to start planning, she’s like, ‘When is Eric coming?’ 

For more information, go to taskrabbit.com.

Martha Quillin: 919-829-8989, @MarthaQuillin

  Comments