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Gigwalk pays iPhone users to do odd jobs

May 5, 2011 |  7:24 pm

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Gigwalk is looking to pay iPhone users to explore their cities, snap photos, verify locations and report back what they've found.

"There are millions of people out there in the world with smartphones in their pockets," said Ariel Seidman, Gigwalk's co-founder and chief executive. "They're consuming content, but we'd like to make people participants in a sort of mobile workforce. And that's what we do, we offer up small gigs that you can do on your way home from work, or before dinner with friends. And you can earn a little money in the process."

The whole process works by way of an iPhone app. Once a user downloads the Gigwalk app, fills out a short application to register themselves as a "gigwalker" and is approved, they are then able to view and choose odd jobs in their local area.

The listings all feature tasks that allow someone to user their phone to collect information and report it back to the company posting the gig within the Gigwalk app.

Once a task is completed, a gigwalker receives payment into a PayPal account.

Jobs range in pay from about $3 to as high at $90, depending on the complexity and time associated with a task -- such as snapping a photo on the low end, to testing out a mobile app for a developer on the higher end of the pay range, Seidman said.

For those new to Gigwalk, only lower paying jobs are listed. But, as a user completes more assignments, they earn "Streetcred" points, which allow them to view higher-paying tasks, Seidman said.

Mzl.amhrphyt.320x480-75 "Most people, I would say, are integrating these gigs into their weekly activities," he said. "Our intention right now is this is supplemental income; this is stuff you can do on the side. But, for the more complex jobs, we want companies to have access to people who've proved they're reliable and trustworthy to get and report back the right information. So that's why the Streetcred system is in place." 

The Gigwalk app launched in November in a private-beta, which allowed only a select number of businesses to list jobs; although the workforce was open to anyone who downloaded the app from Apple's App Store.

During the six-month beta, thousands of gigs were offered and completed, including mapping, real estate, consumer research and retail tasks, Seidman said. But he declined to say how many companies and gigwalkers have taken part so far.

TomTom is among the companies Gigwalk calls clients so far. It used the app to verify data used in an update of its GPS maps. 

"The Gigwalk community has proven it can be an integral component of our mission to continue to provide our customers with the freshest map data product available," Peter King, TomTom's regional operations manager, said in a statement.

On Wednesday, the company opened the app up to the public. Now any businesses looking to take part can, although so far Gigwalk tasks can be performed only in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the San Francisco Bay area, Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and south Florida.

Mzl.nqtxkige.320x480-75 As Gigwalk grows, more cities and regions will be added, Seidman said.The company is also looking to eventually launch its app for smartphones running Google's Android operating system and maybe eventually Microsoft's Windows Phone OS too.

Seidman said he came up with the idea for Gigwalk while working as a director of product management for Yahoo's mobile search and discovery team.

"People from other companies would always complain about how hard and expensive and time consuming it is to collect localized data," he said. "It just seemed like it made so much sense that people are out there and have smartphones and they can get the local data for you. It seemed like a real big opportunity here."

At least a few people seem to agree with Seidman's vision. Matt Crampton, the start-up's chief technology officer, was a senior engineer at Yahoo before leaving to co-found Gigwalk with Seidman and Dave Watanabe, the company's chief of design.

Gigwalk, which has five full-time employees, has raised about $1.7 million to date, with investments from AdMob investor Michael Dearing, Mint.com investor Jeff Clavier and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, among others.

The funding will go toward a few new hires this year, aimed at improving and expanding what Gigwalk already is, Seidman said.

"It's easy to book a plane flight, a hotel room, buy a concert ticket on a smartphone," he said. "We'd like to make it as easy to tap into a mobile workforce and to help a company get the information they need and make a little supplemental income."

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Images: Screenshots of the Gigwalk app on an Apple iPhone. Credit: Gigwalk/Apple

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