AskForTask helping businesses harness the shared economy

Last week, Randy Frisch walked into Uberflip’s Toronto office and realized there were just too many beer bottles piling up inside. As the COO of the company, Frisch could have asked his employees to clear them out, but that would take up a lot of valuable company time.

So instead, he turned to AskForTask Inc., a startup connecting askers (people who need jobs done) with taskers (people willing to do those jobs for a fee).

AskForTask has received a fair amount of press coverage in the last few months. The Toronto-based company originally focused on individuals doing tasks for each other – for example, delivering groceries, babysitting, and building Ikea furniture.

But now, it’s seeing more and more businesses adopting the platform to outsource odd jobs and one-off projects.

For example, Frisch is thinking about using the platform again, this time to find someone to do a small sales-related job. While Uberflip hasn’t done much outsourcing in the past, he said he’s anticipating posting a task to build a lead-generation list.

“I don’t really have someone who, that’s their job. I could ask someone, but I don’t want to take them off what they’re doing,” he says. “It’s kind of, where can I get the most value of my time and my team members.”

The startup began to entice businesses to use the platform when they saw Google Inc. posting a task on the site, hunting for people to help them set up a conference in Waterloo, Ont., back in October 2013. Now, roughly 40 per cent of the tasks posted on AskForTask are business-related, says Nicolina Savelli, AskForTask’s head of communications.

For Savelli, AskForTask fits perfectly into the concept of the sharing economy, where people rent each other’s products and services by leveraging the Internet to make connections both online and offline.

“It’s basically finding those tasks that don’t require a whole fleet of people, or a whole new role within the company,” she says. “They can just quickly outsource somebody to do that … so they can go from San Francisco to Toronto and do business from anywhere in the world.”

While most tasks posted to the platform are seeking people to come to an office or workplace, she adds the company is envisioning askers posting virtual tasks as well. For example, someone might use file-sharing to ask taskers to proofread an essay, or to do graphic design work. Doing small projects like these might also be a great way for students, recent graduates, and anyone looking to break into a field to gain some exposure.

For Frisch, using AskForTask is another way of making the daily grind more efficient.

“You need to focus on your core and rely on those around you. We take that approach for very strategic tasks to our business … we rely on other technology platforms,” he says.

“To me, it’s no different with something like this. It’s human capital at the end of the day and rather than bringing someone in to focus on beer bottle pickup or building out a somewhat remedial list, I’d rather have someone focus on content creation and business development.”

Last month, the startup netted $500,000 of seed round funding. The money’s gone towards a new office, growing the team from seven employees to 16, and attending trade shows and exhibitions to promote the company. AskForTask’s next move is to launch its mobile app at the end of April.

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Candice So
Candice So
Candice is a graduate of Carleton University and has worked in several newsrooms as a freelance reporter and intern, including the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star. Candice is a dog lover and a coffee drinker.

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