Re-building TaskRabbit One Use Case at a Time

TaskRabbit is getting disrupted, in the same way craigslist was just a few years ago. Andrew Parker at Spark Capital once posted this graphic showing how craiglist is being replaced by a host of startups, a single vertical at a time. image

The market of low-skill services is also being displaced by a crop of new entrants:

  • Postmates: getting food delivery from any restaurants
  • Washio: drycleaning and laundry delivered to your door
  • Homejoy: professional home cleaning for $20 / hour
  • Shout: location-centric marketplace for intangible goods (such as your spot in the Cronut line)

It has always been surprising to me that TaskRabbit never caught on as much as it should have. There are tons of daily tasks everyone goes through that nobody necessarily enjoys: picking up dry cleaning, mowing the lawn, putting together IKEA furniture… When I propose TaskRabbit to my friends, however, there is always a lukewarm reception even though I believe the monetary trade-off is a no-brainer for them. A couple of reasons why I think folks are slightly fuzzy on the whole concept:

  • Unclear use cases: the TaskRabbit landing page doesn’t have key examples on how you can use TaskRabbit. I think a great example of demonstrated use cases is the Venmo homepage, where they show a live stream of transactions their users are completing. 
  • Friction in negotiation:The beauty of mobile apps lies in their simplicity in getting a task done – there is no back-and-forth, no talking to a human. The one-time I used Taskrabbit, I had to evaluate all the offers I received and also discuss the task with the selected TaskRabbit. For apps geared towards single use cases, this friction is reduced dramatically.

A suggestion for TaskRabbit is to perhaps go the Uber route and do some fun, single use case promotions for holidays like Valentine’s Day – something like a flat $20 delivery fee for a box of chocolates.

In today’s world, the cost of switching from one service to another is almost frictionless for the consumer. It makes very little difference to me to switch between something like Postmates and Homejoy instead of using a generalist application like TaskRabbit.

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