How Do You Create Work Where There is None? Ask Help Around Town

August 30, 2011

3:16 pm

How do you create work, where there is none? This is the question Help Around Town is answering with its highly-localized, web-based job board.

The team’s goal is to create work for the people hardest hit by the recession: youths, retirees, and people working from home. Help Around Town asks:

How do we help people earn money, experience and endorsements, so they can go on to their next and better job? Our answer is to tap into every one’s “to do list,” help people get things done, and strengthen inter-generational ties in existing geographic communities.

Help Around Town is an online community job board that facilitates neighbors hiring neighbors by providing a simple user interface, service provider profiles, and mutual ratings. Users post jobs, service providers get notified when jobs of interest are available and apply. At this point, the buyer decides who to hire. In classic eBay-style, both parties get rated, and these ratings are visible to everyone in the community – it  helps ensure best efforts from both parties.

In its first two months since launching in Lexington, MA, more than 60 jobs have been posted on Help Around Town and users have signed up from six local towns. It’s also been featured in Mass Tech as one of the ‘Five Startups to Follow.’

Help Around Town is a woman-owned venture led by Reem Yared. Yared consulted for fifteen years with start-ups on product launch, features and positioning, online marketplaces of jobs, expertise and information (Aquent’s, Hot Dispatch, Dow Jones News Retrieval, Private Investor Edition, and   She is now heading her own company and says she’s “loving it.” Yared received her BA from Harvard and her MBA at Wharton.

Certainly the concept of a local job board isn’t new; Help Around Town, however, has a different focus and feature set than competitors and is building a sense of community in the process.  For instance, TaskRabbit (tagline: Get just about anything done by safe, reliable, awesome people.) has an urban focus mainly in Boston and San Francisco (Help Around Town is attracting a suburban audience). TaskRabbit’s model is to assign jobs by to specific providers (vs. the buyer select-method of Help Around Town.)

Zaarly, the online marketplace to ‘buy and sell anything with the people around you’ has also seen users post opportunities for one-time, task-oriented jobs.  Zaarly certainly can facilitate the transaction, yet Help Around Town picks up where Zaarly leaves off with its reputation feature and mutual ratings system. Help Around Town’s service taps into and aims to establish relationships while strengthening ties in the local community.

In addition to connecting job seekers and those that need help, Help Around Town offers volunteer opportunities, internships, summer jobs, as well as featuring traditional help wanted postings.

The site is free for both job seekers and those employing them. Yared says though that by the end of this year, the company will roll out a revenue model based on enhancements that are currently being tested. The gains made by creating and promoting interim employment solutions in an economy where many are struggling to determine “what’s next” clearly contributes to society’s bottom line in the short term. For Help Around Town’s target market, this is a valuable service to get through the time in-between school, a past job, and what lies ahead.

The team will be at our Tech Cocktail Boston Mixer Presented by Sprint on Thursday night at the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center.

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Marla Shaivitz is a writer, developer and digital marketer. She's interested in innovations & innovators in technology and those working toward social good. Follow Marla on Twitter at @marlashaivitz.

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