Tim and Jonathan – cofounders of Airtasker

Jonathan is a co-founder and COO of Airtasker and an avid supporter of the Australian start-up scene as a founder of Tank Stream Labs.  Jonathan was a founding team member and the project manager for amaysim, a web-based MVNO, which achieved one of the fastest telecommunications service provider roll outs in Australia.  Prior to joining the founding team of amaysim, Jonathan worked at IBM for 4 years as a network consultant and project manager.  Jonathan has a B. Telecommunications Engineering (Data Networking) from UNSW and in 2007, co-authored a paper “Wireless LAN based Indoor Positioning” which has been presented internationally.

Our general style is to move fast, test constantly and either fail or succeed quickly on lots of mini experiments.

Tim is a co-founder and CEO of Airtasker and a co-founder of Tank Stream Labs – a co-working space and entrepreneurial community located in the heart of Sydney CBD.  Prior to starting Airtasker, Tim was a founding team member and investor in mobile startup amaysim, playing a key role in strategy and one of Australia’s largest venture capital raisings in recent years. He is a founder and director of several web startups, including custom shirt designer Joe Button, and motorsport event group, Circuit Club. Tim has worked as a consulting talent agent at Chic Management and before this, spent five years as an investment banking exec at Macquarie Bank. Tim has a B.Commerce (marketing) from UNSW.

Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen? 

Jono and I came across the idea for Airtasker in 2011 when I was moving apartments and had so many tasks that needed to be done like packing and moving boxes, assembling our new flat pack furniture and then cleaning up the house that we were leaving.

At the time, we were working as part of the founding team of mobile startup amaysim (Australia’s first low-cost mobile service provider) and had seen the massive potential in the local, mobile economy.  This got us thinking that there had to be a trusted, reliable place where people could find other people to help them with all of these types of tasks – especially when there were so many people looking around for jobs to earn extra money! (Over 600,000 people across Australia earn their income from more than one job).

We started working on designs etc from Jono’s living room and during this time, we decided to take the plunge and go full time…a few months later, we launched Airtasker!

How do you make money? (please explain your business model)

We earn a percentage of the transaction fee for the tasks that users complete on our platform. It’s really simple – we only make money if our users make money so it’s a win-win situation.

What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months? 

We recently presented at SydStart and CeBit which were awesome (a huge week of conferences!) and it was great to see the startup tech scene in Sydney really growing.  In terms of what we’re working on, we’re super excited to be rolling out a whole new user experience which will make posting and running tasks even more seamless, on any platform – desktop and mobile (where we see the future). We’re also really focussed on a seamless “online to offline” user experience – being able to facilitate an amazing Airtasker experience through mobile technology.

How do you make ideas happen?

Our general style is to move fast, test constantly and either fail or succeed quickly on lots of mini experiments. This means that we don’t procrastinate or try to make things 100% perfect before going to market and we’re not afraid to be told how to improve by our users!

What does your typical day look like? 

I usually get into the office early, answer my emails, check the day’s performance and then try to get as much desk work done as I can before the meetings start!  Typically, Jono and our developers/engineers tend to be the late night folk 

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business in Australia?

Initially, we found that Australians were a little more cynical about trialling new concepts and products that didn’t have mainstream adoption across the globe but in the recent years, we’ve found that more and more Aussies want to lead innovation and take a chance on something new and exciting.  This is really important for Airtasker, as we’re working on something that’s a new concept for some people and we know that once a person tries Airtasker and realises the potential, then they’re likely to become a repeat outsourcer!

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

Bring back hypercolor t-shirts. They’re definitely going to be huge in the next year or two!

What companies do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment? 

There’s a new startup called Pocketbook which is awesome.  It’s an app that makes managing your personal finances really simple by automatically syncing with your banks and credit cards and telling you how to spend smarter.  We really love this idea as it’s another app that’s helping to make lives a little simpler and easier.

What about internationally? 

Desksnear.me is a startup that’s run out of San Francisco and is making it really simple to find office space on a daily or even hourly basis which is awesome for freelancers or people who work remotely.  Think: “AirBNB for office space”.  We think this is going to explode as an industry and even cooler, one of the founders is an Aussie!

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?

We think that business can play a huge role in affecting social change by creating new products and services that influence behaviour.  For example, apps like Airtasker (sharing time), AirBnB (sharing accommodation) and OpenShed (sharing things around the home like camping equipment etc) are making people think more about how resources are being consumed, with a focus on making things more efficient.  Without companies working on businesses and problems like these, I don’t think people would even think “How often do I really use my camping equipment?” and “Could I rent my house out whilst I’m on holidays and not using it?” – these are all great questions to be asking and are creating some great change.

Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers?

IFTT – stands for “If this, then that” – as the URL sounds, a site that lets you create triggers based on things that happen on the internet.

FFFound – a cutting edge, inspirational design blog

Gear Patrol – awesome new products and gadgets for “real men”!

Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter? 

@l__anderson – director at Collaborative Labs (a thought leader in collaborative consumption)

@mpesce – author of the next billion seconds and amazing futurist.  He’s also building a startup based around the “internet of things”, starting with cloud based lighting

@jameswindon – an Australian doing awesome things at Causes (a Silicon Valley startup founded by Sean Parker)

Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?

We’re always looking for the best and brightest talent to join our team, whether it’s engineers, marketers or Airtaskers!  We’re also interested in forming partnerships with communities that can help growth the task economy, like sports clubs, universities and associations.  If you’re either of these, we’d love to get in touch!

Our readers are smart, creative, talented and good looking. Here’s your chance to ask them anything.

What’s A) the coolest thing and B) the most scary thing that will be possible through Google Glass?

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

Mary’s in Newtown. Best burger in Sydney, hands down!

What is your favourite song by an Australian artist at the moment? 

Elephant by Tame Impala

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?

Jono and I are co-founders of Tank Stream Labs (a tech co-working space in the heart of Sydney’s CBD) and we’d be happy to donate a desk for 2 months which will provide an opportunity to work alongside some of the top startups in Australia.

Make sure you sign-up to join our amazing community for Australians making ideas happen.

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