2014-04-11

This “Airbnb For Skills” Will Liberate You From Your 9 To 5

Can Avbl take the gig economy to the next level?

More people are freelancing than ever before—by some estimates, around 42 million Americans. But entrepreneur Ryan Hooks thinks that eventually almost everyone will be able to leave their office jobs, and he’s built a new website called Avbl to help.

“Essentially it’s kind of like the Airbnb model for skillsearch,” Hooks explains. “Whatever city you’re in, wherever you are in the world, you can search for a skill—like editor, designer, illustrator, or seamstress—and the results come up based on proximity and date.” If someone needs a video editor today, or a web designer next month, they can search and book the right person.

Hooks, who has worked as a freelance director for the past eight years, says that one of the biggest challenges of freelancing is managing schedules and having a sense of security (and knowing when you’ll have a chance to take a vacation). The new site is designed to fill that gap, in part by borrowing Airbnb's approach to keeping a simple calendar.

It’s also a platform for creative collaboration. If a designer wants to work with a musician on the side—regardless of whether they both have full-time jobs—the site will be a place where people can connect for personal projects along with client-based work.

After Avbl’s recent launch, Hooks is now sorting through invite requests to make sure everyone’s qualified in their field. Eventually, he says, the site will use a social network and algorithm-based quality-checking system to sort through potential members. “We want to have a search engine as good as Google, but for skills,” Hooks says. “That will take time.”

Ultimately, he sees freelancing as the future. “We’re coming towards an automation kind of economy; most of Amazon will probably be automated within 10 years. As technology is liberating us, we’re becoming less necessary for routine jobs. Like Arthur C. Clarke and Buckminster Fuller said in the 1960s, 90% of people should just stay at home and play in the parks and have fun. If you build automation for the society, then the society can be free—and that’s starting to happen.”

The new site may help make that transition a little easier. “Airbnb has liberated apartments, and we can liberate people from their 9 to 5,” Hooks says. “We believe that most of us can freelance, most of us can Airbnb our place, most of us can take a day off to hang out with friends. That kind of shared economy is a visionary idea that is happening now.”

[Image: Abstract via Shutterstock]

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19 Comments

  • "If you build automation for the society, then the society can be free--and that’s starting to happen.” Really? With unemployment skyrocketing everywhere, and freelancers hardly being able to make a living, do you really think that capitalism is concerned about liberating humans? That's a fairy tale. Freelancing -stripped of it's glamour of freedom- is the ultimate form of precarity, where we exploit ourselves and we don't need a boss to do that anymore.

  • Hey Omnia,

    I agree with you, I've been a freelancer myself: mediadrift.com for 7 years, and it can be pain in the butt. I created Avbl 2 years ago to help address these issues, and to get involved with the tech world to help distribute the "wealth" of automation. I hope for Avbl to be a system where freelancers have confidence in the future, and to enjoy the fruits of life more fully.

    -Ryan

  • Florian Rooz

    Would love to join and promote the site, but it seems invite only :). have a few friends also who love the idea. Can you invite me?

    Florian@FlorianRooz.nl

  • I'm a freelance photographer currently using a similar service called Thumbtack. What features differentiates AVBL from Thumbtack? Would I find it easier to book new gigs and clients with AVBL?

  • Hey Ricardo!

    Thanks for the inquiry, there are a bunch of skill platforms out there. Avbl strives to make the process as simple & profound as possible.

  • Jason Hader

    This is still an invite-only site. It would be better to write about them when we're able to really check them out.

  • Hey Jason, it will be invite-only for a little while, but feel free to shoot us an email: team@avbl.com with your info.

    -Ryan

  • Elias Benxon

    Fantastic! This is exactly what I've been waiting for. Can't wait for you guys to launch! Kudos!

  • Maria João Resende

    Can you please explain the name? I think AVBL is a bit complicated, as it's not clearly an english name, it sounds very different in different languages, it's not (at least to me and my knowledge of english) evocative of what the platform does, or the benefits you get from it ... In my opinion, it's not a very good start ... but I sure do hope it's my ignorance speaking, and that it all goes smoothly for AVBL ;)

  • John Fowler

    I would hope that the key difference would be that it isn't simply an international marketplace for lowest possible compensation. Having tried those other sites, I find that they are nothing but an opportunity for third-world professionals to offer services at as little as one-tenth the price one would pay in North America or Europe.

  • Thanks for your question Rafael, I've used many freelance sites myself. Avbl was created to not just find designers or programmers, but as a collaboration platform for all creative skills. It's peer-to-peer so people can find unique talent of all kinds.

    Best,

    -Ryan Hooks

  • so you will still be accepting offshore entries to further drive down our already plummeting rates in the name of free market economy bullshit?

  • Hey Stellsbells!

    Thanks for your feedback, that is exactly what Avbl is not. We want social groups to expand, finding each other in ways that haven't come to fruition yet. We want the shared skill economy to flourish the same way many maker movements have, matching those who haven't meet just yet. On the whole, most people work best in proximity, this is where innovation/productivity happens most naturally.

    -Ryan