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Chris Cardell

Interview with David Link (WorkHub)

WorkHub provides a simple way to post jobs to thousands of people quickly. I interviewed David Link, WorkHub founder to find out more. This interview is the fifty eighth in a series of DW interviews.

You can follow David on his blog, Twitter and Facebook. Big thank you to David for the interview!

How would you describe WorkHub in under 50 words?

WorkHub wants to help people make better use of their time. It is the world’s first universally accessible marketplace for microwork—allowing people to work anywhere around the world, at any moment in time, on any imaginable device.

What made you decide to start working on WorkHub?

It all started with the realization that in a mobile world, work wouldn’t have to be the same as it used to be.

We used to have a job as the only way for us to be productive and earn compensation for our work. Apart from that, we used to have a lot of free time, but that free time was somehow excluded from the sphere of professional work.

Now, we’ve entered a new era—the era of mobile internet. In that era, our free time becomes a much more widely accessible resource. We’re already surfing the internet when we’re commuting on the train or waiting for the bus. We can also use that time to work on small independent tasks and be appropriately compensated for them.

WorkHub is tapping into our cognitive surplus.

How did you come up with the name?

WorkHub is designed to be the place where anyone can instantly plug into a pool of work accessible around the world and around the clock.

So at the very core, it’s about connecting people with work. I figured that the name “WorkHub” describes best what it does.

You have quite a background in startups. What appeals most about being your own boss?

It’s less about being the boss. It’s more about bringing great people together to help shape the future.

I believe that you can only have an impact when you’re able to set your own pace and work on something you’re truly passionate about.

What was technically the most challenging part of developing WorkHub?

The technical difficulties will only arise once we’re scaling the system to support millions and millions of tasks every day. Right now, the true challenge is to build an awesome community and to help create a workplace that is attracting both great jobs and great people to work on them.

We want to emphasize the human element in crowdsourcing and de-emphasize the mechanistic analogy inherent in the similarity to cloud computing.

Yes, we’re building an infrastructure, but it’s more about facilitating connection than it is about mere automation.

How long did it take to put together WorkHub?

We’re at the very beginning. Our goal is to build a sustainable company that will shape the crowdsourcing industry for years to come. We’ve only taken our first baby steps.

Do you have any new features in the pipeline?

Sure.

In fact, we’re constantly developing new ideas we would love to try out. But we’re hackers, so we’re following a lean methodology. We’re iteratively testing new features with selected users, learning from feedback, refocusing on what’s really important, and starting anew. It’s about moving rapidly and responding to what we’ve learned rather than pretending that we know the truth in advance.

What kind of tasks can people do?

In the future, people will be able to do any kind of task with a digital input and a digital output, provided it can be completed in a reasonably short amount of time. We’re building a platform, not a specific vertical.

For now, we’ve had people correct text fragments, transcribe audio to text, describe images to improve the accessibility of websites for people with disabilities, answer survey questions, categorize products from web catalogs, and many other similar tasks.

Has WorkHub got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?

In fact, we’re still in private beta, and we want to keep it that way until we’ve built a system that truly reflects our vision of a widely accessible microwork marketplace.

The positive feedback we’re getting from our earliest adopters, however, keeps blowing us away. Our idea is certainly resonating with a lot of people. Many are asking us for invites. Unfortunately, we have to turn down most of these requests until we’ve figured out how to sustainably grow our awesome community.

Where do you see WorkHub in 5 years time?

It’s hard to predict anything, and most certainly the future. What I’m truly hoping for, though, is that WorkHub will be able to become accessible in more remote regions of the world and to help bridge the digital divide.

Just imagine we could bring the dream of universally accessible microwork to the two billion people who live in absolute poverty today. Increasing their daily income by a few dollars a day would improve their living standard by an order of magnitude.

Who would you say is your biggest competitor?

Our biggest competitor is our own inertia. When we get up in the morning, our goal is to take the next step and improve the lives of our users.

What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?

The biggest hurdle is to generate awareness for the kind of transformation we’re witnessing.

Many companies have never heard of crowdsourcing, and having a component of their business delegated to an anonymous crowd of people sounds unfamiliar and strange to them. Most of them do understand the enormous benefits our service provides, but only after we’ve talked to them in detail about the particular use cases that are relevant to them.

It’s the classical hype cycle as outlined by Gartner. We’re still in the phase where many people don’t know what we’re talking about. They do sense how the internet is having an impact on the nature of work, but they underestimate the impact mobile technology is having on the speed of this development.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting up their own business?

Be passionate. Be a doer, not a talker. Be patient.

What are you most excited about at the moment?

I’ll be excited when we have proven all our business hypotheses. For now, I’m happy enough to learn something every day and get our next iteration out the door.

Can you convince the reader to sign up to use WorkHub in under 50 words?

Do you want to make better use of your time, anytime and anywhere, no setup required, no strings attached?

Then go ahead.

Finished reading? Check out WorkHub!

This entry was posted on Friday, February 17th, 2012 at 7:47 pm GMT. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.



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