Online skill and task marketplaces are springing up like weeds in the tech startup community, but U.K.-based startup Teddle sees an opportunity to provide something different, by not only connecting people with service providers when they need them, but by fostering a relationship that will hopefully turn into a lengthy and productive one for both sides of the equation.
What Teddle offers is a booking platform and recommendation hub combined in a single service. Service providers, like music teachers or plumbers, for instance, can sign up to Teddle and create a profile, after which they’re searchable by the site’s user base. People searching for a particular service can then connect with their Facebook credentials, and see exactly which service providers friends and friends of friends have used in the past. Teddle also provides a reputation score for its providers, which is based on more than just user feedback, though the company isn’t yet revealing what exactly goes into that metric. Once users pick a service provider, they can book appointments right on the site with a full view of their availability, and providers can manage their bookings fro a super simple back-end.
At first, Teddle seems like a mashup of services like TaskRabbit or Zaarly that provide on-demand job sourcing, and something like GigPark, which provides friend-based service provider recommendations. Teddle co-founder Jules Coleman explained that while that’s a fairly accurate assumption, Teddle goes beyond those startups in terms of what it offers both providers and clients.
“Obviously sites like Yelp, TaskRabbit and Zaarly are doing fantastically well and we could only hope to emulate their success,” she said. “We see Teddle as a different kind of service from all of those offerings though. Teddle not only matches customers with great local service providers but it also continues to support the ongoing relationship between customer and provider, managing bookings and interactions from start to finish.”
Coleman also notes that Teddle provides customers with a variety of criteria, making it possible for them to choose providers based on various factors. “Customers can choose on price, availability, location or reputation – no one else offers so many factors,” she said. Also, she believes Teddle offers a better value proposition for service providers than any other, thanks to its integrated booking component
“We let customers go straight from looking for a skilled provider to comparing the options and booking there and then with real-time availability,” Coleman told us. “We bring ‘Buy It Now’ instant gratification to the world of local services.”
Coleman credits three things as preparing the market for apps like Teddle to succeed and fostering the desire for that kind of gratification: First, smartphones mean always-on internet connectivity. Second, social networks have become much more mature, making pulling recommendations from friend networks much more sophisticated and accurate. And third, she says that the rising interest in hyper-local services means that traditional broad-focused websites “are struggling with being relevant to local communities.”
Teddle certainly seems well-positioned to create and foster a sense of community, and in keeping with that goal it is rolling out its availability in stages based on geographic location. The site will also gradually introduce its revenue-generating components, which include paid monthly subscriptions aimed at service providers. Colemand says that Teddle will always remain free for light users, however. The company is currently part of Springboard 2012, an accelerator based out of Google’s new central London campus, and will look to nail down funding after that.
It’s greatest challenge will be overcoming the usual chicken-and-egg problem that faces every startup in its position: it must attract providers to get users, and build a user base to appeal to providers. Its focus on specific locations, beginning with the U.K., will help it tackle that challenge in stages, however, paving the way to true local relevance.