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SkillSlate, efficiency in local markets and my bulldog Barclay
The internet has done a fantastic job of creating efficient markets that reduce the friction of geography, discovery and trust to connect buyers and sellers in meaningful numbers. From eBay and Half.com to Etsy and the advertising technology world, the web is full of large markets made more efficient with structured data and transparency. However, the friction of geography inherent in services that require face-to-face interaction, the higher trust hurdle demanded by consumers in this environment and the conflict between search algorithms and provider scale in these fractured markets has turned close to 16 million individual service providers into a mess on the web.
[caption id=”attachment_740" align=”alignright” width=”360" caption=”I’m not sad, I just need a walk…”]
I experienced this first hand a few years ago when my wife gave me a British Bulldog for our fifth wedding anniversary. I was in business school at the time and she was building her marketing and communications firm so we needed a dog walker. New to the city and with no friends who had similar K-9 responsibilities, we turned to Google and to Craig’s List.
We interviewed no fewer than 10 people for the honor of spending 30 minutes a day with our fat and friendly beast with no luck. The available information about each dog walker was so limited that we went into every interview almost blind. This lack of information increased the friction in the process and forced a much higher investment of time and energy than we anticipated. We also found that each service that did provide a reasonable amount of information expected rates that were 2–3 times the rates proposed by the overweight, chain smoking “dog walkers” who screamed and jumped away when our little guy tried to sniff their hand.
Eventually we took turns running home during the day to give Barclay his walk and with each dog he would meet, we would ask the owner if they had a dog walker they liked. Two days later we met a wonderful woman who took fantastic care of our boy for less money than any of the services we had learned about in our searches.
Today we are excited to announce our investment in SkillSlate because they will structure the mess that is local data and provide value to both buyers and sellers of local services. SkillSlate allows consumers to easily filter through individual service providers based on detailed professional and personal information including pictures, fees, and reviews within a searchable, sortable directory that is far more efficient than the current process.
By reducing the friction inherent in the discovery and quality assessment process SkillSlate solves a real problem for both sides of this large and inefficient market.
If you are in New York and are in need of a tutor, a photographer, dog walker, a handyman or a personal trainer, head over to SkillSlate and give it a try. Also, if you have a great service provider and want to help them capture more business, encourage them to create a profile in the SkillSlate directory.
I know it would have helped me a ton and I hope you will find it valuable as well.