Make Money with Azzida

Azzida – A socially directed, community-based mobile app for increased economic opportunity

A few years ago, my son got his Class A contractor’s license and went about the startup process of going out and drumming up business for his new company. We had a number of conversations about getting a business started and one of the conversations I remember as being an “Aha” moment for eventually starting Azzida was when he told me of the number of people who had contacted him needing work done on projects that were too small to make economic sense for his company. “People need an app for jobs like that”, he told me. “A place where you can post odd jobs and find someone willing to do it for the amount you’re willing to pay”. Having once been in the real estate industry, I recall this same refrain from many of the contractors I had come to know over the years. Contractors, especially those with employees, need relatively large projects to justify the expense of driving to a location, purchasing supplies, setting up for the job and performing the work. Working small, odd jobs simply takes away time they could be working on larger, more profitable projects. That’s why, from a homeowner perspective, it’s always so hard to find someone to help with small jobs and tasks around the house at a price that makes sense.

Flash forward a couple of years, my wife and I had bought a new house, which brought along with it a number of small projects that needed to be done either for cosmetic or home improvement reasons. Although he helped with some of the larger projects early on, my son started working for a large construction company as a project manager, so we needed to find someone else who could do these jobs. For many of these projects, we took the typical route of filling in information on sites like HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List and scouring Facebook neighborhoods or Nextdoor for recommendations just to find people who could do the work we wanted for a fair and affordable price. This led to numerous phone calls, scheduling and appointments with contractors to get estimates and bids on work which we then had to review and decide which ones seemed most reputable and likely to do the kind of work we wanted. Even after all that, we weren’t always satisfied with the price these professionals needed or wanted to get the job done. We often found that bids for the same job could range by $100’s, even $1,000’s of dollars. It sometimes seemed almost as if they were basing their pricing on the neighborhood. How could a lay person know if they were getting a good deal or not?

On top of that hassle, there were a number of tasks where we just needed a little muscle or talent; the kinds of jobs that didn’t fall nicely within the contractor domain: Hauling away debris from the yard, moving an exercise machine to the second floor, or simply wiring and hanging a ceiling fan. For these we tried sites like Craigslist, TaskRabbit and Takl. The anonymity of Craigslist was always a little off-putting to me from a safety and security standpoint. But even with the others, the pricing model and differences between different contractors left us scratching our heads. We thought, why can’t we just say “we have a job we want done and we’re willing to pay this amount. Would anyone in the neighborhood or local community like to make a few extra bucks?” And, of course, be able to find someone reputable and trustworthy to work in our home.

That’s when it hit me. I bet there are lots of people with similar needs who have small jobs where they just need an extra set of hands, another person’s time, a little muscle or just some talent and who would be willing to pay a price that fit their budget. To test my theory, at every chance I got, I set about floating the idea to friends, colleagues and family for a mobile app that would let them post small odd jobs, tasks, unskilled gigs and day labor needs and name their own price and set a date for getting these jobs done. Unsurprisingly, I found that almost everyone of them could think of a situation where an app like that would come in handy. In fact, they had more ideas for categories of jobs than I ever could have imagined. One friend has a small crafts business and for trade shows often needs someone to help her set up her kiosk. “It would be great if I could just post a job in whatever location the craft fair is being held for a little help with set up and manning the kiosk“. Another, a lawyer, said he’d needed help with repairing a fence, but the bids he received from contractors just seemed outlandish. “I could put up a new fence for the amount they want to charge“, he said. “But, I’d be willing to pay a good amount of money to someone who was willing to do it at my price“. One neighbor said he’d love it if he could find someone to help his elderly mother bring in her groceries. Time and time again, people told me that they would definitely use an app like that. It just seemed to make sense to everyone and most people got the concept right away. After some more research, it became apparent that there a tremendous number of jobs each year never get to the market due to the lack of an economically sensible, safe and secure platform for posting and finding small odd jobs.

From a timing standpoint, the concept became even more intriguing. With the COVID19 pandemic, millions of people were out of work in industries from restaurants to retail stores. Even prior to COVID, recent graduates had been finding themselves without employment opportunities and those with jobs faced stagnant wage growth. Could a jobs app like Azzida be part of the solution to unemployment and underemployment in our country? With the current economic environment in mind, creating the Azzida app felt like a moral imperative.

So, after determining the need and motivation for a new alternative app for connecting people for odd jobs, we needed to find a way to make people comfortable with the app from a security and safety standpoint. Three critical safety/security concerns we addressed were 1) Reputation and Identity of the User, 2) Social Distancing, and 3) Payment Security. Reputation tracking has become a commonly used method for determining the reliability and trustworthiness of online community members. For those unfamiliar, “reputation tracking” is where you rate other users on a 5-point star system or something similar, like on eBay for instance. Over time, these systems are can be fairly effective at weeding out bad actors. But could we do even better at allaying people’s fear of using someone they didn’t know for work in and around their homes? Especially with newcomers and people just getting started, rating systems just aren’t that effective. After some more research, we found that all of the gig-economy apps have encountered the same issue. Identity verification and background checks have now become the common method for user verification for many of these companies, such as Uber, Lyft and AirBnb. At Azzida, we’ve partnered with Checkr.com to offer Identity Verification and Background checks so that users can become “Azzida Verified” and demonstrate that in terms of identity, they are who they say they are and that they have a “clear” status from criminal and motor vehicle records. We also implemented a payment system using Stripe, a leading online payment service provider, to allow for secure payments directly through the app so no cash would have to trade hands and people could safely socially distance until the pandemic is over. To ensure that users are satisfied with the job and and to maintain the integrity of the platform, a double confirmation system was included to prevent early payment release. Once a job performer has indicated that they have completed the work, the job poster must also confirm that the work has been completed satisfactorily before payment is released. We’ve also incorporated a dispute resolution service to arbitrate any disagreements over the quality of work performed.

At the time of this writing, a fully functional Azzida app for both iOS and Android phones is almost finished with development. We’re going through the standard user acceptance testing and starting to let a few family and friends download the app to iron out any bugs and perfect the user experience. We’re really excited to be able to offer this solution to the public, hopefully by the first of the year. I hope you will find it useful and tell your friends. If you’d like to help us realize this dream and do your part to increase employment opportunities to those in need, visit our crowdfunding page at WeFunder.com/Azzida.

Happy Odd-Jobbing!

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