Service Seeking – new aussie eBay for services

I came across news that a new Aussie start-up, called Service Seeking, are launching today. Below is a summary:

The business is called Service Seeking (www.serviceseeking.com.au ). It’s an online market where people bid to do work for other people.

If you’ve got anything that needs to be done at home or around the office (eg a new website, some brochures or hire your next contractor), don’t waste time with the Yellow Pages. Post your project with Service Seeking.

It’ll cost you nothing, there’s no obligation to hire, providers chase you and bid against each other. Could be worth a try?

If you provide a service, then register. It will give you free access to new job leads. You only pay 5% for work which you win!

I’ve had a quick look of their site, and the interface seems pretty intuitive. They obviously haven’t got any activity yet, but their sample listings give an indication of the type of people they expect to use it: “I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m moving: I need a cleaner“, “Business Cards & Stationary Print” (sic), “Furniture Removal“, “I want to get fit for Summer“, and “Legals for Property Sale“. The fact they are advertising on the domain.com.au network is a good indication that?Ç? they are targeting the housing market.
Similar to eBay’s reputation system there is also a mechanism to rate providors of services. Uniquely, it’s a score out of 100 and it is derived by people assessing them on quality of work, ability to keep to budget, ability to keep to schedule, communication style, and overall professionalism. This scoring system seems to be an important part of their business model, as they repeatedly make the case that its a way of getting business “without wasting time & money on marketing”.

The revenue model appears to be commission: service providers pay a 5% success fee on payments made.

It seems like a good idea. The Australian economy is 80% services, and the marketplace concept seemed to work for thousands of years as a way of commerce – I could certainly see myself using this service. However as a business model based on the network effect, they will thrive or flop depending on how they engage with the masses.

Making it free for the ‘demand side’ (the buyers) – you just place a request and someone approaches you for work – could be extended in a variety of ways and will be a key thing for it to take off. For example, partnership deals with major websites where people can post a request easily. Like any market, the demand side is is crucial – not enough people using it will make this a ghost town.

On the supply side, only charging when a payment is made means this is an outlet for free advertising, and should alone be a good incentive. However as I mention above, the key is engaging with the demand side – which they obvioualy are trying to do with their advertising campaign launching today.

The fact they are targetting the Australian market with a .au domain is both smart and stupid: smart because it plays on a competitive advantage that nationals of a country will use a business that is homegrown; stupid because it limits their business to the small Australian market. Nevertheless, for a small startup struggling for success, focusing on a niche market first is more important than playing for world domination. (And its not like service marketplaces is a totally new thing). But hey, with an Aussie economy worth?Ç? in exceed of?Ç? US$700 billion – if they can capture even only one percent of that, then that’s going to be happy days for them.

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