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5 Minutes with Stacy Brown-Philpot

Brown-Philpot in her office in San Francisco. Photo by Cody Pickens.

San Francisco-based TaskRabbit, a pioneering “gig economy” firm, provides an online marketplace matching home services with people to do them. Originally based on a model that let freelancers bid for a variety of mostly domestic tasks, the company converted to a fixed-price structure in 2014. Last year, Stacy Brown-Philpot became CEO after serving as COO since 2013. Before that, the Wharton grad and Stanford MBA worked at Goldman Sachs and Google. As CEO, Brown-Philpot has kept things hopping. Last year, she launched an app that efficiently matches “taskers” with on-demand home tasks, a move that helped TaskRabbit triple its revenues.

SKY: How have you positioned TaskRabbit for growth?

Brown-Philpot: First of all, [we’ve focused] just on home services. It’s a pretty big market, like putting pictures on walls and putting together Ikea furniture. The second thing we did: We really focused on becoming a mobile, on-the-go business; more than half our business today is mobile. The third thing is investing in the quality of the taskers. We’re able to attract people who are good at what they do and also really good at providing a great experience. Because of this, we’ve grown the business more than 100 percent per year for the last three years.

Why did TaskRabbit redesign its model in 2014, moving from a bidding system to a fixed-price structure?

The change was needed because the clients who were using TaskRabbit had a coin’s toss chance of getting something done. We knew that we couldn’t afford to grow if half the people didn’t have a good experience. So we changed the business model to one that allows us to have a really high fulfillment rate. [The model] allows us to directly hire a tasker to do work for clients [versus having taskers bid on jobs]. And when [clients] posted their task, they knew exactly what was going to be done, when it was going to happen and how much it was going to cost.

There’s talk of TaskRabbit being for sale.

We did receive some interest, and we’re in the exploratory stage around that interest. I can’t comment further except to say that the benefit would be to scale the company more quickly.

Where would you like to take TaskRabbit? What’s next?

I want to take TaskRabbit everywhere. We’ve added 20 new cities, bringing the total number of cities we operate in to 39. Another part of “everywhere” is platforms. We’re already on [Amazon’s digital assistant] Alexa, where you can ask Alexa to hire a handyman to replace the filter in your refrigerator. That will become more prevalent. Finally, we’re going to continue to invest in partnerships like we have with Ikea. Now if you’re in an Ikea store in London, you can purchase the assembly services right there through TaskRabbit. That’s bringing TaskRabbit to customers in retail, which I think is a very big opportunity.

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