Tarik has been thinking like an entrepreneur since he graduated high school in Morocco. In his story, he shares about the opportunities that led him to develop his latest endeavor, ‘Chore Relief’, an app that harnesses what he calls the “gig- economy,” and connects customers with workers within their own communities.
“My story begins back when I was a kid, in Morocco. The first thing I did was right after high school I started in an “e-commerce” business, buying and selling electronic equipment to retail stores and doing consignment work. Fast-forward three years after that, I finished undergrad school and came to the States back in December of 2003 to finish grad school. Right at that time, my goal was to move back home and start a business: software development, fixing computers–it was a big thing at that time. But then I got an opportunity to work for corporate America (Citigroup specifically), so I worked there for three years until the middle of 2009 when the economy crashed and at that time I moved on. It was, for me, just an experience to see how the real world is. Being a guest in this country was about getting to know the culture; not necessarily how they talk and what they eat, but also how the financial world works and how the professional world works.
The whole entire three years I had been there, it felt like I was a bird with clipped wings. Being in a cubicle wasn’t something that I was accustomed to; that was the first job–and I’m calling it a job because it was a job, it wasn’t something of a passion for me, it was just a learning experience. Four years after that, I started getting into building up small businesses where we can bring in some sub-contractors and hire them by commission. Again, this was an opportunity for me to get into the hair-care business to not only showcase my product, but also to have people out there that are doing some fantastic work, and I’m making commission out of that. So it’s something that I took away from corporate America, being this project manager; and a lot of the time being a project manager is about taking a project from a client and passing it out to sub-contractors and these sub-contractors have to fix the project, and you as a project manager just get paid for it.
The same mindset took me to my next venture, which is about the future of work and the gig economy. We live in a world where the gig economy is expanding far beyond anyone’s expectation, and I believe that world is way bigger than you or me can ever imagine. But what the gig economy lacked is efficiency for customers, and affordable pricing; for the workers there was no opportunity for growth. Me, coming from Morocco, we lived in this space of the gig economy. The gig economy is not something that was created just in the past ten years, it’s something that was there for centuries, except that Internet and cell phones make it so much easier to connect. But, even with the technology that it’s built in a state–let’s say you’re looking at the transportation industry, as well as some of these other platforms that hire someone for you–they still lack that humanitarian touch, because it’s a service business, you can not take the human aspect out of it. You can’t expect technology to fix it all.
So when I looked at it, I realized there are a couple things for both sides of the equation missing: some very key stress points. I’m sure you would agree that, as a client, your very first key stress points when you want to hire someone are price and time. You don’t want to be sitting at home waiting for someone to show up between 8am and 4pm. Most importantly, you don’t want to wait for someone just to hand you an outrageous bill. So I wanted to create an opportunity and create a technology platform that gives the power to the hands of people just like you and me all the time. So what ChoreRelief stands for is that you get what you want, when you want, for the price you want.
Let me show you how it works: in under thirty seconds you post a job, you set up your time, you pick a time and a date and if you want something instantly, great, you can leave it at that time. You pick your price, you write down a short description. Hit the button. Once that button is hit, your job is dispatched to thousands of local workers, so we continue emphasizing the community. We want you to hire somebody in your community so we keep the wealth within the community. And these [workers], at the same time, they are looking at your job and it’s kind of like that Family Feud game: whoever can push the button first, takes the job. Once the job is accepted, that’s when the two-way communication between the worker and the customer begins within the app. You can chat through the app, you can exchange extra photos (just so they understand what the outcome of the job is), or you can talk directly through the app. The customer doesn’t have to pay until the job is completed.
One thing that we took out of this equation is the painstaking point that you have to read reviews and vet these workers by yourself. What we do is, once a job is completed to your satisfaction, we ask you to leave feedback and a star rating for that worker. We use that feedback that you provide us internally to filter the good ones, and get rid of the bad ones. So next time you come into the app and you try to hire someone again, we have an assurance quality that someone is going to show up, we’re going to make sure that he exceeds your expectations.
If you’re in college right now, you have the first opportunity to find a couple of co-founders, or a team leader and just go out on a venture on something that fixes a mass-problem, not just your problem. A lot of people, they start a company because they have an issue and they think everybody else has that issue and then they just want to make that a business. Find a common ground. Make sure that when you’re going to go on this journey, try to study things that have a future. “