Would you invest in this company?
Most people make a living while they’re at work. But what if you could earn a few bucks just walking to the office?
Gigwalk, a startup founded last summer in Mountain View, Calif., takes the phrase “mobile workforce” literally. The company harnesses America’s vast army of iPhone users, enlisting them to complete various “gigs” when they’re out and about.
Rates for these micro-tasks have included $5 to snap a picture of a restaurant’s chalkboard menu for an online restaurant guide, $7 to visit a wireless store and check on product placement for a cell phone manufacturer and $30 to test out a new iPhone app. Users are encouraged to work gigs into their regular routines, picking up pocket cash while they make trips to the gym or run errands.
“It’s whatever is convenient,” says Ariel Seidman, the co-founder and CEO of Gigwalk. Inspiration for the service came last spring when Seidman, 34, was the director of mobile search for Yahoo. He watched mapping companies spend exorbitant amounts of time and money dispatching contractors to gather information from far-flung locales. What if they could rely instead on iPhone users who were already there..?
“I thought it was an amazing concept,” says Jeff Clavier, a managing partner at SoftTech VC, which…invested in Gigwalk. “After five minutes I thought, ‘This is like mobile crowdsourcing…'”
Gigwalk uses iPhone owners’ GPS locations and home addresses to filter and distribute appropriate gigs for them. Once a user accepts a gig, there’s a limited time to finish it, usually a couple of days. After a completed task is approved, the user gets paid through PayPal.
Gigwalk’s biggest challenge? Getting people to take time out of their day for small payouts of just $2 to $15 apiece. Seidman says he doesn’t expect anyone to drive 15 minutes to do a $2 or $5 gig. But he hopes they’ll be willing to work multiple gigs into their morning commutes, or squeeze in a task that’s just two doors down from wherever they happen to be at the moment.
Absolutely makes sense. And only possible in what has become a qualitatively changed information age – both in terms of acquiring and distributing data.