Airtasker snaps up TaskBox as it prepares to tackle global markets

Sydney-based start-up Airtasker has made its first acquisition after launching just one year ago, picking up smaller competitor TaskBox, as it seeks to ramp up growth here and overseas.


Founded in February 2012, Airtasker is an online start-up that connects people seeking to outsource everyday tasks and errands with trusted, reliable people who can complete those tasks.


In April last year, Airtasker secured $1.5 million in funding from Bridge Lane Capital and a number of other unknown investors. The start-up had already raised $140,000 from internet investors and entrepreneurs in order to get off the ground.


Now, just one year after it was founded, Airtasker has acquired fellow Sydney-based start-up TaskBox for an undisclosed sum.


Like Airtasker, TaskBox connects individuals and businesses seeking to outsource everyday tasks to reliable and trusted people who can complete those tasks.


It was founded in December 2011 by Nick Roberts and James Mather, who, after adopting a lean start-up mentality, were able to grow a loyal community of active users.


Roberts and Mather, who will join Airtasker as team advisors, will be responsible for business development and growth as the company continues to expand its smartphone app and website.


Airtasker’s co-founder and chief executive, Tim Fung, told StartupSmart the acquisition was made possible thanks to the funding Airtasker raised in April last year. While Roberts and Mather will join Airtasker, the other TaskBox team members will not.


“They have an engineer who is building the site and another guy doing marketing and social media and stuff. They’re not joining us because we have those roles already,” Fung says.


TaskBox made a name for itself by focusing its energy on Sydney’s northern and eastern suburbs – a strategy Fung applauds.


“They had a pretty clear vision in mind of who their customers would be and focused on that quite heavily, rather than taking a broader approach,” he says.


“They had a lot of success with that because they go their messaging right for the right people.”


The new partnership bolsters Airtasker’s workforce of “runners” – which includes university students, retirees, stay-at-home parents and part-time workers – to more than 40,000 users.


“Sydney is leading at the moment, but Melbourne is a close second and Melbourne has some really strong traction,” Fung says.


“We’re also in Brisbane and Perth. Certainly, those markets have been smaller for us as a result of smaller populations but also the reach.


“What we’re seeing that’s really interesting is since we launched Airtasker Business last year, a lot of businesses in those areas have been reaching out for us.


“Companies in Sydney and Melbourne need staff on the ground in Brisbane and Perth.”


Airtasker intends to have a nationwide presence by the end of 2013. It is also looking at opportunities overseas, says Fung.


“We’ve been having some really interesting discussions with guys in the US and Singapore as well… We’re looking at partnerships but that could involve some investment as well,” he says.


Without a doubt, Airtasker’s biggest competition in the US is TaskRabbit. But Fung insists the two companies are on good terms.


“We’re not completely un-collaborative – there is communication that goes both ways. We’re pretty open people and so are they,” he says.


“They’re approaching some things in different ways but we can learn from what they’re doing and they can learn from what we’re doing.


“Collaborative consumption is in its super early days right now. Everyone benefits from the growth of the industry. It’s a huge ocean we can conquer together.”


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