In a busy world, who has time to mow the lawn, stand in line for the latest iPhone or Black Friday purchase, or bake a special dessert?
On the premise that someone inevitably has the time and inclination to perform tasks that others are too time-strapped or unable to take on themselves, University of Colorado graduate Aric Franzmeier started FlipTask, an online matchmaking service that recently launched in Colorado Springs after operating for nearly two years in Boulder and Denver.
There are two groups of players on the website: the task runners, who advertise their skills and services and get reviewed for their work; and the task posters, the ones who are seeking to have something done for them.
"It's helped me out on a number of occasions," Franzmeier said Monday.
"I've had people shovel rocks in my backyard, mow the lawn for me, get dog food and take care of my animals. I even had a homemade dessert because I like apple crisp, so one thing I asked for was, 'Can someone make one for me?' And sure enough, there was."
Task posters can set the price they're willing to pay for a job or service, or leave it to open bidding if they're not sure what a task is worth.
"It creates a bidding war," Franzmeier said.
FlipTask makes its money in several ways. Task posters can either pay the company a fee of about 15 percent once a task is completed, or sign up for a monthly subscription that runs $1 to $2.99 a month. In any case, there is no payment to the company or task runner until a job is finished - and all payments can be made online.
Yes, Craigslist serves as an online platform to connect people who need work done with those who can do the work. But Franzmeier said FlipTask takes it to another level by helping to vet the task runners. Task runners can pay for a background check, and that will be noted on the website, fliptask.com, but even if they don't, their reputation will be molded by online reviews and ratings.
"With Craigslist, you don't know who you're going to get," he said.
The optional background checks, coupled with the ratings and reviews, "provides a more natural vetting process," Franzmeier said.
In addition to expanding into Colorado Springs, the Dallas native also started services in his hometown and hopes to grow the business even more.
"We're seeing a lot of success and a lot of need," he said. "A lot of people are signing up. This is just the beginning of the expansion."
Apparently, no task is too odd to request. People have been paid to stand in line, write letters, do the grocery shopping and ferry passengers around.
"Somebody even asked for help taking a test," Franzmeier said.