September 15, 2012
Outroop, a new startup out of Washington, DC, is a marketplace for getting stuff done.
The site connects people with service providers like tutors, house cleaners, and repairmen. Right now, it skews more toward manual labor, like roofing, soldering, and painting. To make sure projects don’t go over budget, the service providers can ask questions before submitting a bid. When the time is up, customers pick the best person for the job.
Outroop has entered an already-crowded market. TaskRabbit, which lets you outsource everday tasks and errands, was founded back in 2008. oDesk, for outsourcing skilled contractors, is nearly nine years old. Elance, similar to oDesk, has been around since 1998.
Below, CFO Linda Ho explains how the idea for Outroop evolved out of an earlier product called InnoEngineer.
Tech Cocktail: What was the inspiration behind Outroop?
Linda Ho: Outroop stemmed from our own personal need to find a service provider. When Outroop originally began, the company focused on engineering projects, but one of the team members needed to get his air conditioner and laptop fixed, and he ended up spending hours trying to find a service provider who would fit his schedule. Once he found a service provider, he discovered the person did not have the skills to do the task and ended up taking the part of the cash without performing what he promised on the agreed scope of work. After that, Outroop was founded in order to help protect consumers from the same situation.
The most enjoyable aspect is knowing that we can build a user-friendly system that can cater to consumers and help prevent what happened to our team member.
Tech Cocktail: What is the biggest advantage of starting up in DC?
Ho: The biggest advantage is the amount of freelancers and contractors in the area. Another advantage is due to time restraints; everyone is looking for convenience.
Tech Cocktail: Describe a challenging moment for Outroop.
Ho: The company originally was created under a different name geared towards engineers, but we quickly realized we were targeting the wrong market. We spend a weekend testing out the theory and saw immediate results, which led us to put all of our effort into Outroop. We learned how important it was to listen to what the consumer needs and not be afraid to try new ideas and new things.
Tech Cocktail: What’s one quirky fact about your team?
Ho: We all believe sharing space is a great idea and teleworking is even better!
Outroop was a showcased startup at our Tech Cocktail DC mixer in August.
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