Welcome! This blog broadcasts my thoughts on sectors of interest in my role as a venture capitalist as well as other ideas or tidbits on the business of entrepreneurship. I hope to engage entrepreneurs, VCs, and anyone else in dialogue!
Professional Marketplaces - Web Based Platforms to Help You Make Money
The current economic crisis and looming recession is going to unfortunately result in a lot of unemployment. It's estimated that the US already shed 1.2M jobs so far this year -- and the worse may yet come in 2009....
The silver lining in all this for the smart, skilled yet unemployed folks are that it allows a new beginning in their life. Perhaps they want to change jobs from the mundane corporate life to the teaching profession. Or maybe they simply want to take their skill/craft and work for themselves - the only boss they know that can't lay them off ; )
Now more than ever, the web facilitates the lone entrepreneur or professional to make money on their own. The tools exist to market themselves online, take orders, and even deliver services alone or collaboratively like education, coding, design, etc - all online thru platforms. This brings efficiency (e.g. lower costs), disintermediation of brands (e.g. individual tutors build their brands vs brands like Sylvan or Kaplan), and leverage/scalability to all participants.
The earliest web based platform to help you make money may have been ebay - helping the masses sell their beanie babies for profit. Now there are platforms for the service economy in education, software development, translation services, broadcasting, writing, etc. In this new world, web companies do all the "grunt" work for the professional and allow them to focus on what they are good at. They go beyond online marketing and order taking into business process outsourcing and sharing best practices among the community. Some call them "professional marketplaces"...
- Mechanical Turk - this cool marketplace from our friends at Amazon enable anyone to do human tasks and make some cash. Several of my startups are using this for simple yet fundamentally human tasks such as image classification, reviewing content, etc.
- Etsy - online bazaar for individuals that create handcrafted goods. This is as much about community as it is about shopping for hard to find goods. The community shares tips with each other on how to market themselves best online. Etsy organizes it all in one place and provides all the tools.
- Fixya (note: I'm an investor) - the Q&A marketplace for tech support for any consumer product. If you can't wait, you can get live support for a fee which we share with the experts. About half of our experts do it for the money vs just the glory.
- Edufire. Wiziq - marketplaces out of the US and India connecting tutors anywhere in the world to students - focused initially on test prep and language instruction. Not only do they help you connect with students but they also provide the tools for delivering online lessons - a full interactive chat with blackboard and even video.
- Cafepress, Minted, Threadless - online storefronts and communities for designers to sell their wares - in t-shirt, printed form, or any object you can put a design or photo on (reminds me of my snapfish days!)
- elance, odesk - connecting programmers, designers, and other professionals with jobs online. I've heard many stories of entrepreneurs finding great worker bees on these services.
- ustream, mogulus, qik - It doesn't all have to be about learning and coding. These platforms enable consumers to have fun and become video hosts or programmers to broadcast live video and generate a following (and hopefully advertising revenue!)
- reverbnation - sites like this help you manage the un-business of playing music in a band.
- about.com, mahalo - these seem like great reference sites on the outside but they are really a super-powered community of writers that are doing it for a living - and thriving!
I think this an increasingly important area as more people out of necessity fall into the land of "SMB" and are looking for a quick way to get started. The web is not just about marketing or entertainment - its now about earning a living...
Let me know if you came across any great startups in this sector.