Where do you turn when you need help with everyday tasks like cleaning or lawn mowing? Butlr is a new peer-to-peer marketplace, founded by Ozcar Stormer, where you can ask for help with these types of tasks or offer your own services to others. Peter Tjärndal wanted to learn more about Butlr, so he contacted Ozcar and asked him a few questions about the idea, how it all started and the future of his company.
Ozcar is originally a graphic designer. He has worked in the industry for quite some time with everything from web to print. He has even worked with WAP before smartphones existed.
About a year and a half ago the idea of Butlr came to Ozcar – A person-to-person marketplace for services. He told his friends at a party about his idea and they really liked it.
So there was a period about a year and a half ago, I came upon the idea for Butlr. I felt that this is something that somebody ought to do. There should be a service like this but I didn’t find any. So I pondered the idea. That’s how I always start, with the name, logo and a basic structure.
About the idea
Butlr is a service where individuals can buy and sell services between each other. It can be anything from cleaning to lawn mowing. Ozcar tells me about his idea:
“Hi, I need help with X, I want to pay Y” and then others would say: “Yes, I can do that and I can do this” and then you choose the offer you like best, guided by a rating system. You pay afterwards.
Ozcar explains that Butlr have two types of users, “the buyer” and “the seller” or supply and demand so to say. When you run an online marketplace it’s a challenge to attract both buyers and sellers sufficiently:
It’s duplex marketplace. There need to be both buyers and sellers so that we can attract many users. If we only attract buyers and there are no sellers it will be a flop. If we instead attract only sellers without any buyers it will take a long time to get a job. It leans more towards that strategy, however. We will start to collect sellers and then invite the buyers.
Not long after starting to work on the idea of this platform where people can post tasks, Ozcar realized that the other side of the marketplace – the supply part, is almost more important:
There’s always going to be people who are in need of cleaning or moving help or some other everyday tasks, but they won’t have that need as often as a service provider needs to sell his services to make a living. That’s why we build the other side of the marketplace where we allow users to list their services and present them in their own storefronts. That way we can help users to discover unique local services that they didn’t know about as well.
I asked Ozcar about his sources of inspiration and one obvious inspiration was AirBnb. With AirBnb individuals can rent their apartments, rooms or houses to tourists or other people who visits their city and you can search your neighborhood to see apartments near you. Butlr take this feature and apply it to services near you:
AirBnb is definitely one source of inspiration. They defined a need. They didn’t reinvent the wheel but they defined a need and moved it to a platform that was more user-friendly. They examined the situation and found that people called and booked hotel rooms or put them on Craigslist, which was very unsecure. So they created a beautiful platform that was user-friendly and user-driven to win that market. That is really fascinating.
Ozcar also mentioned the geo-location feature of Foursquare as one of his inspirations of Butlr.
One thing that Ozcar believes is unique with Butlr is that it gathers the market for services in one place. He believes that there is a need for simpler ways to search for services online:
There is a need for a better search functionality in terms of finding services and making business than what Google can provide today. Google is a great way to find information but when you search for “cleaning services Stockholm” you will get 2.5 million hits. Even if you could narrow it down, you wouldn’t know which one to pick without referrals from your peers or sources you trust. The service sector is the only sector that has not been benefited by the new Internet technology.
A new payment solution
Butlr makes their money on a certain percent of each transaction. Something that Ozcar is very proud of is their payment solution.
“Person-to-person-transactions have not been possible in Europe. I have searched six month for this solution.”
Due to some European law there is not possible to make money transactions from an individual to another in a simple way. It was only the banks that were allowed to do this. After six month of searching he came in contact with a company called Mangopay who is approved by the European Central Bank to make transactions like these. With this payment solution you can make a transaction from your credit card to an individual in a very easy way.
Recently the team behind Butlr released a new version of their website and a new mobile app is in the making as I write this. The team aims to release the first version to App Store in April. Their focus now is to attract new members to reach their goal to have at least 10 000 users in three month.