People often ask me what the founding story of Thumbtack is. I’ll be honest: there was no eureka moment that makes for a neat founding myth. We didn’t start with a product in mind at all–we started with a problem.
The unglamorous truth of Thumbtack’s origin is that we were a bunch of dorks who went looking for the biggest market inefficiency that we thought could be solved with technology. We were naively ambitious–we wanted to work on a problem that affected billions of people, one where success would mean changing the way the world works. And we found it: hiring professionals is much too hard. While we can buy a book on Amazon with a single click or order a car ride from our phone, we are still hiring professionals the same way we did since the invention of the Yellow Pages more than 100 years ago.
We saw people with talents they couldn’t figure out how to commercialize; friends who were brilliant photographers, but with no way to get clients. And we saw people with needs that went unmet because they didn’t know who to hire to help them, like my mom who couldn’t find a repairman for the treadmill no matter how many people she called. And it wasn’t just that the experience was clunky for those who got through it, it was that there was a whole world of transactions that never even happened because it was so hard to match customers with professionals.
This is the problem we set out to solve.
Five years later, we’ve learned at least two things: (1) this is a big, real problem, and (2) no one has fixed it yet because it is really, really hard. We can’t say that we’ve figured it all out, but we’re on our way.
The core of the challenge is matching customer needs to the talents of professionals. Directories, online and off, solve this problem by having customers search and browse to find a match. But we’ve all experienced that and it sucks–it’s slow and inefficient.
Instead of asking the customers to do the work, we created software to do it for them.
On Thumbtack, the professionals come to you. You tell us what you need, and we send the right professionals to your inbox with their profiles and reviews so that you can make a hiring decision confidently and quickly.
The magic is in the matchmaking. It’s in helping a Parkinson’s patient in Newport, CA find the right personal trainer to get her coordination back or an American Idol contestant connect with the perfect vocal coach. And by connecting customers with the right professionals, we’re helping tens of thousands of pros grow their businesses. Last week, we spoke with Rex, a carpet cleaner in Draper, UT, about how he was about to shut down for lack of work before finding Thumbtack. This is what we wake up every day excited to work on.
We’re able to do this across hundreds of different categories and thousands of different cities because we’ve created a software-driven approach to solve this old problem in a new way. We’ve built automated systems to identify and attract hundreds of thousands of professionals to Thumbtack, to onboard them efficiently and consistently, and to match these professionals to customers in real time.
Despite being five years in and now helping millions of customers a year accomplish their personal projects, we still consider ourselves to be at day 1 of this journey. We have a long way to go to realize our dream of making Thumbtack the easiest and most dependable way to hire the right professional for any job.
To that end, we’re excited to announce that Google Capital is leading a $100m round in Thumbtack, with participation from our previous investors, Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global Management, and Javelin Venture Partners. We’re thrilled to have another great investor joining us.
The further we get, the more we realize there is to do, but with the incredible team we’re assembling and additional resources at our disposal, we’re ever more excited about the road ahead!