In the midst of a recession that seems to never end, there are plenty of people who need to find new ways to put some cash in their pockets.
Meanwhile, those lucky enough to have jobs often feel like they have to work so hard just to stay employed that they no longer have enough time or energy to take care of the routine tasks of daily life outside of the workplace.
To Michael Peggs, those two economic realities describe an online marketplace waiting to be born.
Meet Peggsit, a startup so young that you if you move quickly enough you could be one of the first 50 people to use it.
"This is a marketplace for short-term gigs," says Peggs. "Lots of people could use some help with walking the dog, mowing the lawn, or cleaning the apartment, and just as many people would be willing to do those things for cash."
Now, the first place you'd probably go today to meet these needs is Craigslist, which has a "Gigs" section with eight subcategories.
But the simplicity of its UI -- just one big list without much interactivity -- may be opening Craigslist up to competitors who figure out how to strip away small categories like "Gigs" in ways that add value, create a better sense of community, and stimulate market forces.
Peggsit, which like Craigslist is free, appears to be poised to do just that in the category of short-term supplementary income.
Among the things Peggs and small team are doing right is baking reviews and ratings into the DNA of their service. "A big challenge we face is how to incentivize users to review each other in order to facilitate the growth of a community around short-term gigs," notes Peggs.
One early clue in how this matters comes from the service's first 40 listings. "I was really surprised that part of what we offer -- confirmation or verification of both the lister and the service provider -- matters so much to people. It turns out that there is frustration with the 'Craigslist flaking problem'" -- i.e., the "no show" phenomenon.
Peggsit actively facilitates the interaction between lister and finder, and by promoting reviews, promotes a reputation system around these interactions that builds trust.
It reminds me a little of Airbnb in this way that new online communities and marketplaces are emerging to fill voids in our physical lives.
At this nascent point of its development, Peggsit does not get involved in the financial transaction between the parties using its service, but that could change in the future, perhaps migrating toward a commission model such as that at Airbnb.
Peggs is also exploring strategic partnerships with short-term specialists such as event staffing and catering firms. For now the gigs appear on one list, but he envisions verticals in the future as it scales.
Peggs, who hasn't left his day job (at Google) yet, notes that "everyone from stay-at-home Moms to seniors to students should have a side gig in this economy, especially youths aged 18-25, who have the highest rate of unemployment. This will put money in their pockets."
As for how he envisions Peggsit to develop over the rest of this year, he says he will be following the philosophy he's learned at Google: "We throw a lot of spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks."