Cheryl Leong is a connector. She has built connections to foster relationships for events, businesses, special interest groups and individuals. Which is no surprise she left her job in the financial services industry as a qualified lawyer to start online marketplace, TaskRunners, which allows you to delegate small jobs and tasks to skilled and helpful people in your neighbourhood choosing whether the pay in cash or in kind (swap).
With TaskRunners, she has pursued a lifetime goal to start something that not only made good business sense but one that contributed to maintaining or creating a sustainable community and for the benefit of others.
Cheryl lives in Sydney with her husband and they are expecting their first child in early 2013. A passion for the outdoors, Cheryl is a keen adventure racer thriving on the thrill of competing and mostly getting lost in the bush. She believes in finding balance in life and living it as a journey filled with wondrous experiences.
What are you working on right now?
We’re merely weeks from launching the TaskRunners website and working on creating brand awareness and educating people about the collaborative consumption movement and the host of incredible businesses that Australians can tap into to participate in the ‘Sharing’ economy.
How do you make ideas happen?
You need to take action and move forward before that idea can become reality.”
Taking the leap. I’ve met so many people with brilliant ideas that have stayed in their minds as just that – ideas. You need to take action and move forward before that idea can become reality. Whether it’s a good idea or not, you’ll never know but don’t live with that regret.
What does your typical day look like?
I always make sure I have balance in my days. I’m a bit of a lists person so each day I schedule what my priorities are for the business, allocate time to each task and make sure I set aside time for exercise, meditation, self development and family time.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business in Australia?
My biggest challenge now is ensuring there is sufficient critical mass to make the marketplace work effectively.”
There have been many! I have no technological background at all so with starting a technology based business I had to make sure I found a developer that new exactly what they were doing and could handle the complexity of developing an online marketplace.
I also found it challenging at the start to get a grasp around using social media as a tool for the business and a very effective way of marketing on a shoestring but also finding out what draws the customer and keeps them engaged.
My biggest challenge now is ensuring there is sufficient critical mass to make the marketplace work effectively. It’ll happen. It’s just a matter of brand awareness and hitting the tipping point where it’ll grow organically (sooner rather than later!)
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
Nannies and babysitters are in big demand. Find something that caters to that need. I can offer my mum to start.
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
MamaBake.com in Australia is a pioneer in the collaborative consumption space and I love what founders Michelle and Karen have done here. It’s really hit a mark with mothers not just in Australia but across the globe and built an enormous army of MamaBakers sharing recipes, advice and friendships.
Lisa Fox from OpenShed.com.au is probably the voice of collaborative consumption in Australia. I have so much respect for her work in creating awareness and being a champion for startups and the sharing economy.
What about internationally?
AirBnB is certainly taking the world by storm and has turned the accommodation industry on its head by not just sharing spaces but unique local experiences like living in a tree house, a castle, a cave…I could spend a day just exploring where I’d like to spend my next holiday.
What role do you think business should play in affecting social change?
Certainly looking at the way businesses can reduce overconsumption by using existing resources, including human resources, for their needs.
This can be done by adopting B2B models that encourage collaboration, not just within the organisaton, but also in their industries. There are the financial savings that stem from this but also a reduction in waste and an example for the general consumer marketplace to change their perceptions of sharing vs ownership.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers?
- MamaBake.com – big batch cooking
- Ziilch.com – where good stuff goes free
- CarNextDoor.com.au – neighbour to neighbour car sharing
Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter?
- Susan Jones @ReadySetStartup – get great tips for your startup
- Lauren Anderson @l__anderson – Innovation Director at Collaborative Consumption.com
- Rebekah Lambert @noshamecreative – Rebekah is a champion for Australian freelancers and women. She has just created the website Discordia.com.au which reads as a warning ‘We don’t make apologies for not living up to anyone’s expectations of what a “woman” is’.
It’s only coincidental they’re all women!
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?
Absolutely! We’re looking for marketing help right now. We’re targeting families and the grey army so it would suit someone who is passionate about and knows the challenges that come with balancing work and family and has experience in the social media and/or PR space would be ideal.
Our readers are smart, creative, talented and good looking. Here’s your chance to ask them anything.
What is your number one tip for keeping focused on your business idea when you hit the rough spots?
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
The Opera Bar simply because it has the best views of Sydney harbour and a great vibe to it. Although ask me again next year when my choice will be based on stroller and baby friendliness.
We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?
$100 worth of credit to use on TaskRunners to help with any task that has been sitting on that to-do list for far too long.