Global online jobs marketplace Airtasker launches in New Zealand today, adding to an ever-growing gig economy.
The Australian-based company arrives on the heels of a turbulent year for Kiwi workers as Covid-19 displaces thousands while limiting opportunities for those seeking work.
"We're super excited to be launching Airtasker in New Zealand... we believe that every person has unique skills and our mission is to provide them with a way to share them to earn an income," said Airtasker co-founder and chief executive Tim Fung.
Airtasker connects people who need work done with people who want to work. This can range from house cleaning to gardening and odd jobs to CV writing.
People or businesses can post a task and how much they are prepared to pay, and then choose from rated, verified and reviewed people ready to work straight away.
Airtasker's arrival in New Zealand will create competition with local offering Joblist .
Joblist, which launched in 2018, has more than 11,000 registered users.
Fung co-founded Airtasker with Jonathan Lui in Sydney in 2012.
Since then the online marketplace has experienced rapid growth, amassing more than 4.1 million community members across Australia, the UK and Ireland, while generating more than $1.2 billion in job opportunities.
Fung says the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated a real need for flexibility to adapt to the constantly changing situation.
So far more than 15,000 jobs have been lost as a result of Covid-19 impacts on New Zealand businesses.
Latest numbers show more than 212,000 people are now on a Jobseeker benefit - up more than 100,000 on the same time last year.
And around 430,000 workers were on the extended Covid-19 subsidy.
"Whilst the Covid pandemic has resulted in significant job loss and an increase in the labour force underutilisation rate to more than 12 per cent – we're excited by the contribution we can make to help rebuild the New Zealand economy," Fung said.
That underutilisation number – 346,000 in the June 2020 quarter – represents those who do not have a job, but are available to work and are actively seeking employment; employed part-time (fewer than 30 hours a week) and wish to increase the number of hours they work; want a job and are available to work, but are not currently looking for a job.
"Airtasker can help to provide a soft landing for Kiwis who have been furloughed or just need some additional income," Fung said.
"On a macro level comparing the periods peak Covid to when most restrictions were lifted in Australia versus the same period in 2019, we saw an increase in gross marketplace volume (GMV) of +29 per cent. In New Zealand dollar terms that's $43m-$55m."
Fung said there have been examples of "Taskers" (service providers) earning upwards of A$10,000 ($10,874) a month.
And the company has previously reported that the highest earning person using its platform in 2017 was a painter from Melbourne who earned A$171,000 that year – completing a total of 172 tasks, earning him on average around A$1000 per job.
"Our research indicates there is significant untapped potential in the handyman, gardening and cleaning categories," Fung said.
"Anyone can jump on Airtasker, offer their skills and start earning right away... we're really excited to see how creative Kiwis can be."
Fung said he believes the flexible labour economy - coming off a low base - will play an increasingly important role in to the future.
"Each person and each different type of work requires a different type of work structure. For example, permanent full-time employment will always play an important role for certain jobs and comes with a number of positives. But full-time work also comes with a number of limitations - for example, flexibility.
"The flexible labour economy creates more 'agile' working opportunities and is much less 'brittle' than full-time employment.
"For example, flexible labour allows people to quickly ramp up their workload to earn additional income and provides a soft landing in the case that permanent work eases down for any reason."
And Fung is quietly confident that the New Zealand marketplace might just outpace Australia.
To fund its growing expansion, Airtasker has raised more than A$55 million since 2012, the Australian Financial Review has reported.
This includes raising A$33m ahead of its UK launch in 2018 from existing and new investors including Seven West Media, Skyfield Capital, Exto Partners, Morning Crest Capital and Black Sheep Capital.
Airtasker's revenue is generated from a 10-15 per cent service fee for "Taskers" that it takes for each completed job to cover payments, insurance and customer service.
On the battle for the gig economy, ridesharing giant Uber currently has about 7700 driver partners in New Zealand, while rival Ola reportedly has 9000 drivers in the country as of last year.