Labour sharing platform Airtasker is one of Australia’s best-known startups. Its co-founder and chief executive Tim Fung, who will speak at the Wild Digital conference to be held in Sydney next month, took time to chat with Business Insider about what’s driven his success.
Tim Fung, co-founder & CEO Airtasker
1. What has the business done since the $22 million series B funding last year that you couldn’t do before?
Seven West Media led our last funding round and in addition to their financial investment and really strong media distribution, they’ve brought some great strategic brand thinking to Airtasker. This has allowed us to start thinking about and working on making Airtasker a household name.
2. Have the attacks from fellow Australian startup Freelancer (regarding marketing campaigns) disappointed you?
For sure. I’m really proud of the work that our team has done in creating [the “Like a Boss”] campaign. UDKU (agency partner), as well as our team members who have been caught up with this, are all super disappointed by Freelancer’s claims, which we absolutely refute.
3. What’s the most unusual job you’ve seen posted on Airtasker?
Where do we start? This summer Airtasker has completed so many interesting tasks from oyster shucking to billy kart-building to woodfire pizza oven chef-ing.
We also had a pretty crazy response to our Chicken Run task that involved one Airtasker worker reviewing 10 types of fried chicken in a single day. Here is the original Chicken Run task and the video review.
4. Who do you look up to in the digital industry? Why?
I look up to many of the usual suspects like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk but I’m currently reading Shoe Dog (the memoirs of the Nike founder) and I really look up to the way that Phil Knight created a business based on his passion for running — and focused relentlessly on product development and growth in an era before traditional venture capital. Since then, he’s done an amazing job to turn Nike into a truly universal and loved brand, which is [also] doing some amazing things in tech.
5. What one attribute do you have that has most contributed to your success?
I would say that a healthy dose of naivety is important because it allows you to rush in and attack problems rather than over-thinking issues, which leads to procrastination.
6. What one attribute do you look for in an employee or collaborator?
I lean towards people who have a strong preference for action rather than being overly intellectual or theoretically brilliant.
7. Which superpower would you most like to possess?
Whilst this is probably not the most fun answer, I tend to think that having a superpower would just open up more problems. For example, being able to read people’s minds would probably lead to acquiring some really depressing information and being able to fly would make cliff diving really boring!
8. Aside from your own, which three mobile apps do you use the most?
Facebook (for hanging out in the Sydney Startups group), Chinesepod (I’m trying to learn Mandarin) and Nike Run (to keep track of my exercise).
9. Which technology trend will go mainstream in 2017?
I think virtual reality will really start going mainstream as the cost of hardware becomes reasonable and a whole range of new applications become available. Of course, I think the sharing economy will continue to prosper – however, this will still mainly focus on the monetisation of people’s three biggest assets (home, car and job).
10. What’s one thing Australia can improve on to make life easier for startups?
I think Australia is already a great place for startups in terms of tax and infrastructure. However, I think we need to proactively invite international technology experience, skills and personalities into the country. This would help Australians learn and benefit but would also serve to educate the global market about some of the great things happening in Australia — and how lucrative the market is.
11. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in building your business?
There are usually no silver bullets — almost everything is about a hard grind and gradual improvement – which can add up to big successes.
12. What are you looking forward to at your business in 2017?
In 2016 we doubled the size of the team, so in the first part of this year I’m really looking forward to improving the Airflow (how people work together) in our team and helping to make our individual team members super happy and productive.
13. What are you most looking forward to at Wild Digital?
I’m really looking forward to mingling with some of the brightest minds in local technology and cross-pollinating learnings from Australia and South East Asia.
14. What problem do you wish someone would solve?
It’s really amazing that although 99% of people are trustworthy and honest, that our entire commerce ecosystem is based on the assumption that people are mostly bad. For example, you wouldn’t lend your surfboard to the guy up the road because you have to assume that he would never bring it back. So I think one of the biggest opportunities in society is to build a source of information that creates trust between people. Fortunately, this is something that we’re working on everyday at Airtasker!
15. If money was no object, what would be your dream job?
Formula One driver.
16. What will be the inscription on your tombstone?
A little morbid, but the first thing that comes to mind is “He tried.”
17. Sydney or Melbourne?
Sydney, of course!?
Wild Digital Australia, to be held at the Sofitel Sydney on 20-21 February, is a platform created for key internet leaders to come together and share their bold and wild visions for building great disruptive companies.
Attended by leading tech CEOs, founders, entrepreneurs, senior executives and investors from around the world, the event provides unprecedented networking opportunities, a chance to explore the trends shaping the industry and region, and discuss strategies for building billion-dollar businesses in this space.
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