SkillPages, a startup that helps people find skilled workers like carpenters or painters, has been quietly gathering millions of users over the last two years. Now, at 10 million users -- with 1.5 million of those users coming online in just the last month -- it's launching mobile app to localize searches even more.
The site's services are a mixture of social-networking sites like LinkedIn and job marketplaces like TaskRabbit or Zaarly. People with specific talents start a skill page, a profile that lists their skills and what type of work they are looking for. On the flip side, people looking to fill a job can post an opportunity. These opportunities and skill pages show up in a stream on the profiles of people in your area.
SkillPages founder Iain MacDonald likes to compare the site to LinkedIn, the 9-year-old professional networking site with 175 million users, except it doesn't stop at typical, white-collared jobs.
"You'd never go to LinkedIn to find a landscaping contractor, or a dog walker, or a babysitter," he said.
People can list more than one skill. For example, dancers can also be actors or photographers. Users can recommend and rate people by on their page and can see which of their friends already know someone based on social network connections. SkillPages uses a variety of social networks, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and your e-mail address book, to make those social connections.
"People like to do business with people they know or people they have things in common with," MacDonald said.
The new mobile app will add another layer onto the network -- location. Already, 24 percent of SkillPages's traffic comes from mobile, according to MacDonald and he sees a mobile app helping people fill jobs that have immediacy, like a baby-sitter or a plumber. Members can use the app to search for skilled workers, while those looking for work can post their skills and find job opportunities. There's also in-app messaging and calling, and push notifications.
Launched in January 2011, SkillPages connects 100,000 people to job opportunities each day, according to MacDonald. Since the company expanded the U.K.-based service to North America last month, the site has seen rapid growth. MacDonald -- who sold his previous company, broadband provider Perlico, in 2007 to Vodafone for $100 million -- attributes to that to a marketing push by SkillPages. Although the company's focus is on the UK and North America, MacDonald said it has users from all over the world.
The company doesn't charge for the listings. Instead, it has advertisements promoting jobs listings and just launched its premium pages, which gives users their own URL. It has plans to add more premium features next year, as well as introduce a hiring service for employers.