Dolly Parton wouldn’t make it in today’s economy. The country artist’s song “9 to 5” was an attempt to capture the average worker’s mindset, making it seem as though an eight hour shift was something to be dreaded. Today many people work more than eight hours each day, and that’s before they clock out and head home to their true passion, whether it’s writing, Web design, or some other craft.
PeoplePerHour, a UK-based company expanding to the US, is debuting “Hourlies” to help these moonlighters get paid for their skills and, hopefully, move away from their soul-sucking, mindless day jobs.
Started in 2008, PeoplePerHour operated as a three-person team in a basement for the first two years of its existence. Founder and CEO Xenios Thrasyvoulou says that Hourlies is PeoplePerHour’s attempt to help moonlighters make money on their own terms and start running their own businesses.
In order to help moonlighters make that change, Hourlies allows sellers to advertise what they can do in a set amount of time and their going rate. The average price per hour is $35, substantially higher than PeoplePerHour’s main competitor, Elance.
“Elance is an $8 per hour marketplace because they offshore the work,” he says. “Our average rate is $35 per hour. It’s the semi-local economy; it’s finding people in mid-America or England to do something for you.”
Semi-local is the right term; 80 percent of transactions that occur are between two people in the same timezone. Thrasyvoulou compares PeoplePerHour to Airbnb, saying that “much like the best bedrooms are two blocks away from you, [a person with the skills you need is] just around the corner, but there’s no access to [them] without this site.”
Much like Flipgigs, a job board catered to students, PeoplePerHour doesn’t see TaskRabbit or Zaarly as a competitor. “TaskRabbit and Zaarly are very much about local services, like getting laundry picked up or standing in line for someone,” Thrasyvoulou says. “We’re all about remote work; a lot of it is centered around the digital experience.”
As someone that worked one of those tedious, 40-hour week jobs (and who hasn’t?) the idea of using something like PeoplePerHour to get a freelancing career off the ground is appealing. Thrasyvoulou says that 20 percent of workers freelance in addition to working their day job; it’s his goal to get that number to something like 60 percent.
“We believe strongly that this is the beginning of a new economy, much like the [way the] Airbnb economy helped monetize the spare bedroom, the Etsy economy helped craftsman, [and like] what eBay did with collectors,” Thrasyvoulou says. “Where we see this going is this whole second economy that will eclipse the 9 to 5 economy.”