Trade services platform Taskforce, headed up by former supercar racing champion Jason Bright, has secured $1.5 million in funding, as it pivots its focus and accelerates into a new phase of growth.
The funding comes from investor and advisory XSallarate, as well as from local VC Futurist Capital.
Founded in 2014, Taskforce allows customers to find licensed, insured and quality-checked tradies to complete jobs ranging from air conditioning maintenance to pest control to fencing repair.
With a network of 1,000 tradies already on its books, the startup has now pivoted into a new niche, offering a Software-as-a-Service platform for appliance brands to manage installation, warranty and service work for their own customers.
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Some of these brands will have their own people, who can be added to the platform and prioritised for certain jobs. Others can make use of the vetted workers available.
While Bright always knew there was an opportunity to go into this niche, “early on, we didn’t have the software to manage that”, he tells StartupSmart.
“We missed that boat a bit.”
However, while providing services directly to consumers, he found he was being approached by businesses asking how they could utilise the service.
By that stage, he was already working on the software that would enable a partnership.
“It all came together and we pivoted to focus on that a bit more,” Bright says.
“It’s been quite a big year in that respect and it’s opened up a lot of opportunities.”
Part of this funding will be used to hire more people into Taskforce’s sales team, which has been “quite modest for a while”, Bright says.
However, “a reasonable chunk” will also go towards further improving the Taskforce platform.
“There’s still quite a lot of software development we could do.”
The changes the team has made already has potentially opened up doors to expand into parallel industries. As well as being the go-to platform for appliance brands, it could be used by real estate groups or property managers, for example, to provide maintenance for a group of buildings.
So, Bright will be investing in “tweaking it to suit those different industries”, he says.
The founder hopes to provide a network of quality tradespeople that spreads to all corners of Australia. However, he also says the solution could easily be applied in any country.
“At the moment we’re taking very solid steps here in Australia, [and] New Zealand is certainly on the radar,” he says.
But ultimately, this could be a global product, he adds.
“The software can work anywhere in the world.”
While the transition from supercar racer to trade tech startup founder may not seem like an obvious one, Bright himself actually completed an apprenticeship and worked as a fitter and turner before starting his motorsports career.
And good racers have to be a bit business savvy, he says.
“I was always out there trying to find sponsors to further my career,” Bright explains.
He was sponsored by several blue-chip companies, including car and equipment manufacturers.
“You get an insight into all of those different worlds and how they go about business,” he says.
“Over 20 years or so racing supercars professionally, you rub shoulders with all the right people in those industries, and you learn quite a bit from them.”
Some of the skills he gained from his racing days have also come in handy in startupland.
When you’re trying to find sponsors in motorsport “you really have to sell what you believe in”, he says.
“You have to think outside the box at what people need and what benefits you can offer,” he adds.
“Motorsport is all about problem-solving.”
In his racing days, Bright would constantly be looking for new, better ways to do things, and creating strategies to get ahead of the competition — literally.
“That sort of mentality has helped,” he says.