Imagine yourself having a list of to-dos for the day, including a doctor appointment, grocery shopping, meeting a friend for lunch and your mother for an afternoon tea. Even though these are a number of things to be done, there will always be slack time in between where you cannot be as productive as you would like to be – and as we all know and as it was eloquently put into words by Benjamin Franklin: Time is Money.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could use your waiting time more efficiently and earn some money on the go?
Now, in a second scenario, imagine yourself to be part of a big company, selling products worldwide in thousands of retail shops, creating a massive amount of points of sale. Since you cannot be everywhere at the same time yourself to check how your products are presented in a store, whether enough items are on stock, which types of consumers buy your product etc. you would usually have to send out field workers to collect these valuable information. Unfortunately, this takes time, is very costly and to evaluate the effectiveness of a specific campaign, for example, it is vital to get timely information from various different locations to be able to adapt and improve your strategy while the campaign is still running (1).
Wouldn’t it be great to either clone yourself or have another option to have scalable workforce at the right place at the right time?
Just during the time when crowdsourcing was entering the peak of Gartner’s hype cycle, representing the market’s inflated expectations as well as the start of a mass media hype (2), Streetspotr was founded in Germany in 2011, with the beta phase ending in 2012 – a company exploiting two trends that affect almost all (IT-related) companies at the moment: crowdsourcing with the help of mobile.
Streetspotr is a platform that constitutes a two-sided market (3): On the one side, there are private users who face, for example, the first scenario described above. These individuals can download an app for their smartphone and learn about so-called microjobs (or “spots”) just in proximity of where they’re currently located. When they decide to take the job, they have a limited time frame in which they can answer questions, take photos etc. As soon as the result is accepted by the “employer”, the spotter earns a small amount of money, typically around 2-3€, which is accredited to the spotter’s PayPal account (4).
This way, otherwise wasted time can be turned into money while there is also a social and fun aspect as by now there is a real spotter community, where points and badges can be earned that show your credibility, enhance your reputation and unlock higher paid jobs over time (5).
The other side of the two-sided market is represented by businesses of any size that want to have access to near real-time information collected by a scalable workforce in an extremely cost-effective way. Via the website of Streetspotr, they can enter all different kinds of microjobs, determine a price that the spotter is paid and a time frame (4). As soon as the job is taken and executed by a spotter, Streetspotr controls the result’s quality and the “employer” gets to either accept or decline the result. This way, businesses can utilize the wisdom of the crowd without having to employ masses of field workers; instead making use of a temporal mobile workforce (6).
That this concept works has been shown in several ways by now. First, a number of 300.000 spotters (1) has ensured a critical mass, attracting more and more (and larger) businesses to use Streetspotr for the location-based microjobs they have, causing positive network effects for both sides of the market (3). Second, gamification and the community aspect, as well as the money to be earned ensure an excellent consumer engagement, where hardcore users purposefully plan routes to execute 20- 30 microjobs per day, earning a 4-digit sum of money in one year (6, 7).
Third, after winning two awards for their timely, well executed business model and the way they make use of the trend mobile, having created an “ideal mobile app” (8), Streetspotr now thinks about expanding beyond German-speaking countries to Great Britain and even the United States of America, after having received their first injection of capital in 2014 (7).
Talking about expansion, there is the idea that in addition to the co-creation model of C2B, Streetspotr is thinking about opening the platform to private consumers to occupy both sides of the two-sided market as well (C2C); in this respect, users shall be able to have others collect information on a used car they want to buy or any other information that can be found on the street (6, 9).
All in all, I think Streetspotr has managed to develop a business model that is really interesting and has a high potential – it is timely, makes use of current trends and serves the individual as well as the business side of the market, having managed to create a critical mass on both sides. Personally, I have just downloaded the app and look forward to earning some money on the go from now on.
- Eisenmann, T., Parker, G., & Van Alstyne, M. W. (2006). Strategies for two-sided markets. Harvard business review, 84 (10), 92.
- Saarijärvi, H., Kannan, P. K., & Kuusela, H. (2013). Value co-creation: theoretical approaches and practical implications. European Business Review,25(1), 6-19
- Featured Image: Streetspotr Facebook