What is Thumbtack?
Thumbtack is a trusted marketplace where consumers can find, compare, and book local services. By making it easier, more affordable, and safer than ever before to purchase services, we aim to transform a broad swath of the service sector much as eBay and Amazon have done for products. We know this is an ambitious goal but we believe the transition to transacting services online is inevitable and imminent.
How big is the opportunity?
The local service space, though enormous, is highly fragmented, fraught with inefficiency, and largely transacted offline. Consumers spend more than $500 billion on local services every year, yet existing local service marketplaces serve either just a limited niche of services or only provide consumers with reviews or wanted ads.
How do we solve the problem?
Three main obstacles have, until recently, prevented the rise of a vibrant marketplace for local services:
- Chicken and egg problem: How do you balance consumer and provider acquisition, when each depends on the other? One company has attempted to overcome this challenge with the human matching of wanted ads. We have that, but we’ve also spent the last year recruiting providers into our database so that we will be launching with 10,000 providers already using Thumbtack. With a few mouse clicks, users can find any type of help they need, from the ordinary (tutors, hair stylists, handymen, caterers) to the quirky (rap teachers, cartoonists, belly dancers, henna body artists). We appeal to these providers by offering them a number of business marketing tools that are useful, independent of the network effect.
- Trust: You care about the reputation of someone you’re dealing with on eBay when you purchase a used iPhone, but trust and safety are 100x more important when the person is coming into your house or taking care of your children. Thumbtack aims to establish itself as a leading consumer and safety advocate in the local service market by automatically vetting each provider as well as offering additional consumer protection tools including identity verification, criminal background screens, professional license checks, and customer testimonials and reviews. You can see an example of the verifications a provider can get here. (More screenshots: http://www.thumbtack.com/press).
- Quality of product: Designing a marketplace for services is far more complicated than marketplaces for products; offerings are not discrete and price discovery requires a dialogue between buyer and seller. This makes the quality of the product extraordinarily important. We have put over a year of work into designing our marketplace to make it flexible and sophisticated enough to accommodate a large segment of the local service marketplace.