Toronto vs Everybody has become a popular slogan for the Six; and at Adam Helps we can certainly identify with its essence. The market for home-services related apps is growing increasingly crowded so at times it can feel like it’s Adam Helps vs Everybody. In business they teach you not to fear competition because, in essence, competition helps validate and legitimize your offering. Competitors of all different shapes and sizes are likely to encroach on your space and their presence can’t be ignored, but as a business you have choices to make in terms of how you handle them being in your atmosphere. Some businesses chose to go toe-to-toe with competitors in an all-out advertising and marketing bloodbath; after all who could forget the epic Duracell vs Energizer ads of the 1990’s and the long-standing heavyweight fight between Pepsi Co and Coca-Cola?
Other businesses meet competition by refocusing on the difference that their brand brings to the market in an effort to educate customers and convince them why their brand should be the customer’s preferred choice. Still other businesses ignore competition and changing times by sticking their head in the sand which…isn’t usually a good thing (cough cough Canon). All businesses regardless of their size are engaged in a dance of marketing strategies and initiatives to keep their brand relevant and their customer base engaged and informed. The philosophical view on how you approach the presence of competition is integral to the actions you take as an organization, and your overall success in the marketplace.
The Bunnies are Here:
When Taskrabbit launched in Toronto last week we were met with the initial fear-based reactions of “Oh crap, the big boys are here now and they could squash us like a bug”. Taskrabbit has been in the home-services space since 2008 and was acquired by furniture giant IKEA in 2017. It is, for all intents and purposes, the gold-standard of this sharing economy style app where you request a task from an intermediary (Taskrabbit) and they find a Tasker to come and complete the task for you. This model has since been replicated dozens, if not hundreds of times by others in the space including Handy, Jiffy and Askfortask who each do the exact same thing.
Taskrabbit is so well-known they’ve been referenced in TV shows like The Mindy Project and they also had an enigmatic founder in Leah Busque and an extroverted and honestly pretty incredible Ivey League educated former Google powerhouse CEO in Stacy Brown-Philpot. I mean, it’s normal that a local homegrown Canadian app like Adam Helps might be a bit anxious upon hearing of their arrival in the Canadian market. Right off the bat we saw that Taskrabbit retained a massive PR firm which suggests they have the budget, knowledge, willingness, and ability to make a strong push into the Canadian market. Their CEO is a confident and competent public speaker with a compelling story to tell regarding overcoming barriers in Silicon Valley. On all levels Taskrabbit could be a scary threat to us, but we’ve decided as an organization to celebrate their arrival here in Canada and see it as an opportunity to focus on what we do well, what we do different, and how we will define our space in the home-services arena.
We ain’t afraid of no bunnies:
We can’t do anything about our competitors decisions to expand; all we can do is manage and adjust our behaviour and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. As the founder of Adam Helps I have to decide if we’re up for the task of baiting Taskrabbit into an advertising war but this really doesn’t make sense for us for a few reasons. If I were Jiffy, Handy, or Askfortask I think Taskrabbit being here is extremely problematic for them because they really are a direct competitor without enough distinctions between them to pull market share their way. Adam Helps has always been a pioneer in the space because we are NOT a brokerage style system; you don’t request help from Adam Helps and we don’t farm out your jobs to helpers. On Adam Helps the job poster controls everything: Pricing, timing, task details, and who they hire. You chat directly with your helper to negotiate all terms on a peer-to-peer basis. Because we don’t have a middle-man it means you can usually find help for a more moderate price on our app; no service fees and no commissions make this possible.
Defining our Lane:
When I think about Taskrabbit I think they have a great offering, I like their platform, corporate culture, and mission. It shouldn’t be surprising that respect the Bunny because we’re both committed to providing a solution for people who need help with daily tasks; we just approach how we deliver this mandate differently. So what do we do now? Adam Helps is the new kid on the block and while we continue to tell our story about how we are different from Taskrabbit, the fact that we’re in a similar space of people doing tasks for you tends to create an automatic association of our offering with Taskrabbit. But the fact that Taskrabbit is here is a GOOD thing for us because it gives us a solid well-known player to inform our users about how we are different, and hopefully preferred, over their offering. On a high-level Adam Helps is the community based peer-based solution to task sourcing; and we see Taskrabbit as a more corporate offering. On a micro level there are many more differences: Adam Helps doesn’t take 15% commission from our Helpers, we don’t have a 7.5% ‘trust fee’ that our job posters are charged, and we don’t have a fixed scheduling software you need to be slotted into. Since Adam Helps is a different offering we believe we’re making help more accessible to Canadians by keeping it local and affordable.
If you’re on a limited or fixed income a 7.5% fee is not insignificant, and similarly if you’re a Tasker doing work having 15% of your income go to your employer is substantial. Of course, since we are not taking a commission Adam Helps can’t provide some of the bells and whistles of its competitors; that’s not good or bad it’s just different. If Adam Helps did background checks on all 20,000 users we’d have to pass those charges along to our Users like our competitors do, and we don’t want to do that, so we don’t. We date to be different in this regard and we have found that by allowing people to talk directly to their neighbours it helps establish trust and security between the job poster and the helper completing the task.
The Road Ahead:
Adam Helps will continue to define itself in the marketplace by celebrating what makes us truly unique in these home-service task-based offerings. With the right strategic and financial business partners there is absolutely room for us to leave our mark and expand the brand to other Canadian cities and beyond. Competition will be seen as a tool to inform, not intimidate. While we may not roll out the red carpet for every new app that comes into this space, we will continue to adjust, reflect, and define who we are in the market so that you, the consumer, can make the most informed and right choice for your needs. Our goal is really quite simple; let’s get communities and people engaged on our platform so that everyone who needs help can find it on their own terms and everyone who is willing to help has an opportunity to do so. This only works if people download and use the app in big numbers. Our company is small but mighty and we will continue to participate in community events, we’ll continue to support local grassroots charities and we’ll keep finding ways to celebrate what makes Adam Helps so special.