There are times when you need an extra hand to get an errand done, but at the same time the task is too minor to hire a full-blown professional to help you. A good neighbor will always give you a hand, but some things fall in that fuzzy area where it can be too much to ask of a friend or neighbor, but too minor to hire a professoinal. What do you do in that situation? You can bug your busy neighbors, nag your friends, or use Den Lille Tjeneste in Denmark, or use its sister service, Hinner Du, in Sweden. The websites are online marketplaces for services, providing private individuals and small businesses with quick help in order to solve everyday tasks and errands.
The idea behind the online service originates from a real life experience from co-founder Sara Ohlsson, who had bought a used fridge online. After having closed the deal with the seller, the question of transporting the fridge popped up and she gathered some quotes from professional transport companies, all of which required more money to deliver the fridge than the fridge itself was actually worth. Hence the idea: There must be someone out there with a car and a trailer willing to transport the fridge from point A to B without charging an obscene amount of money. And the result is what you see today, a peer-to-peer platform for small tasks and errands.
Users can post the errands and price they’re willing to pay up on Den Lille Tjeneste for free, and the website breaks tasks down by category, price, and city. Anyone looking to make a quick buck can then browse the tasks and contact the poster if they think they have the skill-set to complete the tasks. After the errand poser and errand runner talk, and the task is completed, the poster pays through the website. Den Lille Tjeneste then takes 24% to cover costs and pay for VAT.
Co-founder Rasmus Bjerrum tells us that in general they’re seeing a wide variety of people completing these errands. “That said, we see a slight overrepresentation of students wanting to earn some extra cash when they’re not caught up with exams as well as retired seniors, who still wants to contribute and help.”
The average errand runs between 3-400 SEK (€33-45) and Bjerrum tells us the most popular tasks differ a little from country to country. “In Sweden the most popular task is assembling IKEA furniture (big surprise!) whereas in Denmark we have experienced a big demand for help in the garden and minor handyman chores like setting up a shelf in the bathroom. Other classics are walking the dog, fix my bike, clean my driveway and ‘please please please, can someone help me with my computer – it broke down yesterday and I need it to work NOW!'”
When asked about the future of the service, Bjerrum tells us they have very ambitious growth plans for the future and are constantly looking at new territories and areas for expansion:
“Peer-to-peer sites such as ours have been predicted by many experts to be one of the leading and fastest growing online trends for 2012 and the upcoming years, so we have great belief in our service. One of the main challenges – and also one of our main focus areas – is to have mechanisms in place that build trust between strangers meeting online. Hence, we encourage our users to grade each other and comment the task performed in order to establish a digital CV for the runners, which in time will dramatically increase the trust using our service. We definitely believe in peer-to-peer work as a significant online trend over the next 1-3 years and we have only seen the tip of the iceberg for Collaborative Consumption sites such as ours.”
One side effect of Den Lille Tjeneste and Hinner Du that I find interesting is that by creating a marketplace, it has the effect of making professional handymen browsing the service price takers rather than price makers. A service like this makes anyone with errands or anyone with free time better off. But can it gain the critical mass to really take off? We may only have to look at how well shoveled Danes’s and Swedes’ driveways are this winter to find out.