Today is a massive day for us because not only have we raised $33 million, which we are putting towards empowering you to realise the value of your skills and earning more, but we’re also launching in the UK.
It’s been a really educational, thrilling and almost entirely enjoyable journey so far and as we’ve grown to help connect more and more Australians, I wanted to personally share with you what our plans are for what’s up next!
Here’s a quick summary on our latest capital raise and international expansion:
- There are over 1.7 million community members Australia-wide, with more than 800,000 community-verified reviews and earnings over $85 million.
- We’ve recently raised $33 million from existing and new investors including Seven West Media, Skyfield Capital, Exto Partners, Morning Crest Capital and Black Sheep Capital.
- We’re getting ready to launch Airtasker in London.
These announcements are super, super exciting for us but we also wanted to take this opportunity to talk you through some of the things that haven’t gone quite ‘our way.’ And we believe that it’s important that we continue to remain open and transparent with our members, so we’ll also share how we plan to invest the money that we’ve been entrusted with to improve the marketplace.
Over the past 12 months the Airtasker team has almost doubled and now there are 120 full-time employees with a huge range of skills spread across the company in engineering, product, design, marketing, partnerships, admin, human resources and support.
But at the beginning of 2017, we also had seven really great people leave in quick succession. It’s incredibly hard to have people like this who you work with every day move on. It took its toll on me and got me thinking – what did I do wrong?
Previously a few people had called out that perhaps we need a ‘HR person’ but I had always said, “Nah we just hire good, smart, motivated people – we’ll be right”. I was wrong.
My focus has always been single-mindedly building the Airtasker product and growing the Airtasker community, and in hindsight, I had let this key part of my role fall by the wayside. It’s crazy to think that I hadn’t thought it was worth investing in someone whose job description is to ensure that we’re getting the most from and for the people who work at Airtasker – especially since employee salaries are our biggest financial investment each month (by far). I mean you probably wouldn’t lease a large property without someone to manage the property or invest in a company without a CEO.
But, admitting to the team that I stuffed up was super humbling, and I now know that it’s super useful and an important thing which had to happen. And now we’ve refocused on the people and culture within the Airtasker team.
Since then, we’ve worked hard to build our ‘People Ops’ team, re-organised the entire company into ‘Pro Teams’, (whereby different parts of the business are broken down into autonomous teams to solve issues), and now I’m focused on creating one of the best possible places to work. We’ve already made some great leaps, but we have a way to go yet!
Airtasker is built as a community marketplace, where people come together to outsource and to earn money. But along with that is the challenge of balancing different stakeholders such as Job Posters, Airtasker Workers, Australian Taxation Office (ATO), unions, government and the wider community.
This all came to the forefront a few months ago when we were asked to attend a Senate Enquiry about the sharing economy and also criticised in the newspaper for allowing people to post tasks about cleaning a tobacco bong and babysitting.
As an open marketplace with a simple business model, we had to give deeper thought to these issues and how we help to drive positive change in both the community and future of work.
Here’s what we’ve done so far:
- Invested heavily in expanding our Airtasker Support Team so that we can improve our reply times but we still have a lot of work to do here.
- Created a software tool, which we named Alan – our friendly robot that detects and disposes of any tasks which don’t fit within our Community Guidelines.
- Held proactive discussions with unions such as the TWU and Unions NSW to work on initiatives aimed at creating the best possible working environment for our members.
We know that balancing everybody’s needs will be an ongoing challenge but we’re absolutely open to all stakeholders and will work with the community to listen to feedback about what we can do to help.
We’ve had some tough moments (as mentioned above) but overall the Airtasker journey for the team and especially myself has been an absolutely amazing ride and earlier this year we redefined our mission for the company:
To empower people to realise the value of their skills.
Every day I’m thankful for the chance to work alongside some of the brightest people that I’ve ever met, and who have now taken over the reigns of really making stuff happen. These include:
- Developing the Airtasker reputation passport with our ID Badges (Australia Post’s Digital iD Badge) and Licence Badges (Electrical Badge)
- Creating task-related partnerships with The Good Guys, IKEA Australia, eBay and others.
- Improving the online working environment through collaborative initiatives such as Roobyx’s income protection insurance.
We’ve also had some really fantastic support for us from the wider Australian community. From the Commonwealth Bank, who pioneered our first third-party verification (Commbank Identified Badge), to Australia Post who created the Digital iD Badge and Unions NSW who have both helped us to shape a platform for the benefit of the Airtasker Workers.
But most importantly, we’ve felt the tremendous support of more than 1.7 million Australians who have joined the Airtasker community to find a better way of getting things done or share their unique skills with others.
We’ve seen some absolutely amazing tasks this year and just to name a few:
- Help Sydney Dogs & Cats Home to look after a puppy
- Fly to Paris to pick up sunglasses
- Buy the homeless some food
- Fill in for me at training with the AFL GWS Giants
- Host Hit107 breakfast radio show
The awesomeness, hilarity, and ingenuity of these creative tasks really show the power of people and what we can get done when we work together. So rather than treating people as a simple means to getting something done, we’re going to ‘double-down’ on investing into the Airtasker community culture and values, which we believe is far more powerful than rules, controls or legislation.
Raising $33 million is a big responsibility. It’s a huge amount of money but equally, we’ve got a huge to-do list which requires significant investment. So, now we need to make sure that each and every dollar is put to work to further our mission.
Fortunately, we’ve identified plenty of things that we can do a lot better. Here’s what is at the top of our list:
We’re going to invest deeper into our customer support channels and ensure that you get a faster, more responsive and helpful service when you need it. This involves scaling our support team in Sydney, Manila and now London – but there’s a lot more to do.
Training will be a high priority for us so that all team members can directly respond to enquiries. We’ll also launch new communication channels for you to work with the support team so that you can chat where and when you need to.
We know there’s plenty to do here but rest assured, this is a top priority for us!
We’re going to continue to invest heavily in our engineering, product management, and design teams – these are the people that ensure the Airtasker Apps/website stays online, and quick and reliable as we continue to grow.
You’ll also see us expanding on key product themes which include:
- Discoverability and matching: We’re working on changing the way people connect with work through features such as smart filters on the browse task page, as well as improving existing features like messaging and task alerts.
- Reputation and trust: We’ll continue to roll out features that allow members to improve their reputation and earn more. This will include expanding on Badges – trade licences, working with children, academic certifications and more. We’ll also work to improve our insurance for when tasks don’t go quite according to plan.
- Tools and enablement: We’re working hard on improving all the tools which make working on Airtasker a simple and flexible experience. Features in the pipeline include a refactoring of Airtasker Pay, as well as ramping up our income protection insurance partnership with Roobyx, to make working in the flexible local services economy more safe and secure.
We’re travelling to…
To the land of Harry Potter, English breakfast tea and hot English mustard – yep we are dipping our toe into The River Thames and the UK. This is going to be a
big huge job and we’re pumped that we’ve brought onboard Lucas London, our UK Country Manager, ahead of our launch in early 2018.
Lucas has had vast experience, starting out as a funds management guy at Clareville Capital but also since in a range of startups from Yubl to Feast It and Virgin Startup London. Perhaps even more importantly though, he’s got startup grit – literally jumping on a plane to Sydney for a six week ‘get it done’ stint, 48 hrs after accepting the role.
We’re also going to continue to work with members of our community to create even more Australian working opportunities by investing in partnerships with great companies such as IKEA (to create furniture assembly tasks) or eBay (to create online sales tasks).
We’ll never stop learning
So, it’s been a very big year for Airtasker. We’re really proud of the positive contribution we’ve made to the future of work and while we’ve certainly learned a lot as a team, we have a long way to go.
Pushing forward on our mission and contributing positively to the future of work is not going to be easy and there’ll be ups and downs ahead of us – but I’m absolutely pumped as we enter the next phase.
Overall, we’re never going to stop learning and we’ll never be done. So let’s enjoy the ride together!
Airtasker Co-founder and CEO
P.s. We would have never gotten this far without these people who we thank dearly:
- Our partners: Thanks to Maureen, Noel and the team at Roobyx. Simon, Kim and the team at The Good Guys. Adrian, Cass and the IKEA Australia team. Shelley, Tung and the team at Australia Post. Scott, Toby, Jessica and Emily from CBA. Mark, Colin, Kon, Jamie at UDKU. Hamish and Lyndall at B&B. Tamsyn and Chris at WML. Daniel and Ellen at B449. Harrison, Alex, Felicia and Matt at MCP. Jenny, Clive, Tim, Bruce, Alex, Alan, Philippa, Justine at SWM. Tim at Altus. Rob and Twain at CGU. Michael, Ashley and Nick at RISQ.
- The team: Thank you to the people who have choose to work at Airtasker and their partners, families and pets who support them every day.
- The community: The biggest thank you goes to you guys, the people of the Airtasker community. Thank you to the Job Posters for each and every task that you’ve created. Thank you to all of the Airtaskers for having the entrepreneurial spirit to share your skills with others. You rock!