For every Thumbtack or TaskRabbit, there are smaller gig economy marketplaces that aim to provide a community feel and to tap into skillsets that aren’t often found on other sites. The goal is to provide an alternative to the impersonal experience found on other gig economy sites.
“It’s so transactional that you feel like the person helping you or providing a service is not a human anymore,” MyPeople founder and CEO Melissa Strawn told PYMNTS.com in an interview.
At the same time, Strawn noted that her site provides a platform for creative and offbeat offerings “that you can’t really buy online today.” A gig worker on the MyPeople platform might help find a consumer find affordable housing in Portland, Oregon, for example. “That’s a unique skill that someone has in their pocket,” Strawn said. In fact, she initially didn’t want to constrain offerings on the site by providing categories for services.
Gig Economy Payments
To purchase a service, a consumer can either message a service provider or book directly (in that case, a helper can still decline a job). At the time of booking, he or she pays in advance by credit card; Strawn’s platform then holds the funds until the service is completed. At that time, a helper can mark a job as complete, and the customer has 24 hours to report a problem with the service. If that doesn’t occur, the provider is paid via Stripe and the customer has the opportunity to provide feedback.
Instead of paying with a credit card, users of Strawn’s site can use points or points and a credit card in the same transaction. The points are based on the revenue that MyPeople earns from the sale, which is 20 percent of the transaction. Each point is equivalent to $1. As an example, if a consumer books a $100 service, the helper gets 10 points and the person booking the service also gets 10 points. Strawn said users might be more inclined to visit the site if they can use points to receive discounts on future purchases.
Gig Economy Workers
From a gig economy worker’s perspective, helpers can get started by clicking “offer a service” from the home page. They can then choose to offer an hourly or fixed rate, as well as the option to conduct the service virtually or in-person. For a more personal feel, helpers can also add a video introducing the service they are providing. When it comes to the backgrounds of gig workers, Strawn is finding that the site might appeal to a parent who is unable to work outside the home and needs a flexible way to replace their income.
One of MyPeople’s helpers, for instance, listed handyman and yardwork services. Another helper, who actually worked for Strawn in home organization, has a master’s degree and a certificate in statistical analysis, but took a few years off to take care of her kids. When she applied to jobs, she was either told she was too qualified or was out of the job market for too long. Looking for an alternative, she ventured out on her own.
“It’s not that they can’t work in this traditional world,” Strawn said. “It’s that the traditional world just puts too many limits on their gifts and their talents.”
According to The PYMNTS Gig Economy Index, the key factor that drives workers to eschew traditional employment for full-time gig work is flexibility. A quarter of surveyed gig workers named this as their top motivation for joining the gig economy. This becomes even more important for younger workers, as 22 percent of full-time gig workers aged 18 to 24, and 30 percent of those in the 25-to-34 age bracket, cited flexibility as the main reason they participated in the gig economy.
However, this past quarter also saw an uptick in older workers participating in the gig economy. PYMNTS found 18 percent are in the 45-to-54 age bracket, up from 16.6 percent. This suggests that some experienced workers are leaving full-time positions to take on full-time gig work, perhaps due to growing demand for their skills, the chance to earn additional income and the ability to enjoy a more flexible work schedule on gig economy marketplace sites.