The other day I was chatting with my friend who wanted to start “doing something on the side” to earn a little bit of money. We started brainstorming and quickly realized that there are tons of ways to make some extra cash these days, especially using the gig economy as a launch pad. For example, one can drive via Uber or Lyft, deliver food via Doordash and Postmates, or list their services on a freelancing site like Upwork.
After doing some more research I came across a recent report from Spera which found that more than a fourth of the U.S. is now officially part of the freelance gig economy. However, the majority of these apps only offer real job opportunities if you live in a major metropolitan area. What if you lived in the “middle of nowhere” and wanted to earn some money (as most Americans do)? In fact, a 2015 census report shows that “U.S. Cities are home to 62.7% of the population but only comprise 3.5% of land.” How can one of these Americans get in on the gig economy?
Well, there’s an app for that. Moonlighting is a gig economy app that allows every American to get in on the freelancing action. In under a minute, people can post their services on the app and be connected with people who are looking to hire (or vice versa).
I sat down with Jeff Tennery, the founder and CEO of Moonlighting, to find out more about the gig economy and how Moonlighting fits in:
How has the gig economy changed since it was first introduced?
Uber and Airbnb were the first success stories in the gig economy who could scale. They both approached the gig economy by unlocking the two most widely held idle assets; cars and homes. Both built solutions that would allow anyone owning a car or home make money. The gig economy has now evolved well past ride-share and home rentals as most people want to expand beyond those two areas to earn a living. Not everyone wants to drive or allow strangers into their home. Most, in fact want to put their skills to work in different ways. Jobs they actually want to do, and have a passion for.
What will the "next wave" of gig economies look like?
The next (or second) wave of marketplaces in the ride -hare and hospitality sectors attack more verticals like legal, accounting and pet care. I really like Bench which provides affordable accounting services, UpCounsel which helps lawyers find more gigs, and Rover which focuses on man's best friends. The third wave is coming and Moonlighting is leading the charge with real time hiring solutions that transcend the curated models that have spawned from Uber's success.
How does Moonlighting fit into this space? What sets it apart from other gig economy apps?
There are very few open platforms in the gig economy that afford freelancers the chance to work on a wide variety of jobs and Moonlighting does just that. And none that do it in real time outside of the top 5-10 cities. Moonlighting allows both the freelancer (we call them moonlighters) and hirers to choose the type of work they want to do, when they want to do it, where they want to do it and at rates and prices that they set themselves. Moonlighting is a modern day hiring exchange that brings parties together quickly via their mobile device. Many of the other gig economy players were born prior to the smartphone or don't play well for mobile. Many in the press have called us "Craigslist without the creepiness" because we leverage mobile and social media to remove anonymity and fear in the gig economy.
What does Moonlighting look like today? And what kind of work do you see flowing in your platform?
Today our marketplace has over 250,000 freelancers and small business entrepreneurs offering up the most diverse set of skills and talents in the gig economy. We have fire jugglers, DJ's, photographers and pet sitters, all the way through accountants, graphic designers, consultants and data scientists. The wide range of jobs is what makes us unique and different. Every job post we see is different and there is no other marketplace in the gig economy who can boast of that variety.
I read that 3 media companies - Gannett, tronc, and McClatchy - recently funded you. Why are they interested in the gig economy? How will you be working together?
Gannett, tronc (formerly Tribune) and McClatchy all viewed partnering with Moonlighting as tremendous opportunity to re-ignite their classifieds business. These media giants have a long, storied history of serving their local communities with commerce solutions that make their local cities and towns stronger. All three view us as a solution to help their local readers and business succeed in the gig economy, and they want to leverage our millennial audience and our mobile first platform. They also invested in highly successful companies like CareerBuilder and Cars.com and believe we can achieve the same great success
What are your goals for Moonlighting into 2017?
Moonlighting is growing at breakneck speed and we will be concentrating on helping our moonlighters find more business through our marketplace. We will be partnering with over 150 local news media sites and apps like the LA Times, Chicago Tribune and nationally through Gannett's USA TODAY to expand our audience to millions.
Any advice for those looking to get involved with the gig economy?
The key is for freelancers and small business people to win in today’s gig economy is to be available on-demand. And in order to be discovered quickly they need embrace mobile and participate in as many marketplaces as possible. The gig economy is still so nascent, but growing rapidly. People need to promote their business throughout the gig economy and take advantage of being a part of more than one marketplace. We encourage our quarter of million users to use other platforms too. Because you never know where the hirer is going to be with Moonlighting.
Michael Park is the CEO and Founder of LipSync, an on-demand interpretation startup based in San Francisco and Hong Kong.