As the unemployment rate in Canada trickled down to 6.9 percent, according to Statistics Canada’s latest labour force survey, one Toronto-based startup is making a difference on the job market front.
Launched by Muneeb Mushtaq, a 22-year-old University of Toronto graduate, and his brother Nabeel, a 19-year-old Seneca College student, AskForTask connects Canadians looking to complete projects with those willing to take on the work. Since its national launch in May of this year, the startup has reportedly created $1 million worth of jobs—or tasks—across Canada.
“Overall, this platform is giving every single Canadian the opportunity for employment,” Muneeb, cofounder and CEO of AskForTask, explained in an interview with Techvibes. “It allows everyone to take their desired skillsets and put it to use. It’s another means of income, whether you are unemployed, employed or just looking for part-time work. It also connects people and builds lasting relationships with users.”
The genesis of the idea traces back to November of 2011, when Muneeb and Nabeel’s mom tasked Muneeb with finding a plumber to fix their leaky kitchen faucet.
“I turned to Craigslist and Kijiji,” Muneeb says. “But this wasn’t the most efficient way to find someone. There was a lot of back-and-forth and miscommunication.”
“I told my brother that we had to come up with something,” he recalls. “We came up with a rough idea within a week.”
In May of 2012, they launched a beta version of the site in Toronto to test their concept and quickly realized there was a demand for it. The platform gained about 8,000 users and generated about $90,000 worth of tasks.
That’s when they got serious. They raised $175,000 in seed funding and hired a developer to work on the site. And in May, they launched their platform nationally.
The platform works like this: users seeking help with a project—called "askers"—can post any task for free. They set their price, as well as the time and date. Those seeking work experience or want to make extra money, called "taskers," can respond to and bid on desired tasks.
Suppose you’re an asker, seeking someone to install flooring in your house for $300. Those interested can accept the offer, or make counter-offers for less or more, with AskForTask taking a 10 percent cut.
Users can post tasks for just about anything, ranging from simply picking up groceries and making deliveries, to putting together Ikea furniture and renovating basements.
If you think it sounds like Craigslist, Kijiji or other job boards, Muneeb says it isn’t. “We realized there was a huge gap in trust and safety,” he says. “If you think about it, if you don’t know anything about the person posting an ad. That is something we think is our biggest strength in offering piece of mind for every single user.”
He explains that users submit to four levels of verification upon signing up: their email address, Facebook account, phone number and PayPal account. “We do a bit of due diligence,” he says. “These four tiers of trust level that everyone signs up with are verified.”
Another key difference is AskForTask’s review system, Muneeb notes. Askers can evaluate taskers and leave feedback on their page when a task is completed. That way, users can assess their skills for future tasks. “Basically, the profile of a ‘tasker’ acts as a resume in order to get more jobs assigned,” he says.
With more than 35,000 users across Canada, Muneeb reports, AskForTask is growing. He says they have plans to proceed to round A of funding, in which they hope to raise between $600,000 to $1 million, and will be launching a mobile app for iOS and Android devices at the end of the year.
“AskForTask offers a backbone where people can pursue something they’re passionate about,” he says.