Greylock-funded Gigwalk attacks data, mobile

Ronny Kerr · May 4, 2011 · Short URL:

It's mobile for the real world: Gigwalkers execute tasks in their area, businesses pay them money

How does a startup get seed funded by angel investors with names like Michael Dearing (Harrison Metal), Jeff Clavier (SoftTechVC) and Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn, Greylock Partners)?

By harnessing mobile to capture unprecedented amounts of data about the real world.

Most apps today deliver either games, entertainment or social experiences, according to Gigwalk co-founder and CEO Ariel Seidman, but that doesn’t really take full advantage of mobile functionality. Gigwalk flips the traditional focus on user consumption, instead paying iPhone users actual cash to go into the world and capture data for companies.

Seidman tells me that the point of Gigwalk is to ultimately help businesses answer one simple question: how can I employ the mobile ecosystem to help me solve a problem?

If “consumers can book a hotel at the click of a button,” Seidman argues, “businesses ought to be able to capture and record real-world information. [With Gigwalk], anyone who has an iPhone can participate in a mobile workforce,” collecting that real-world data.

Because the possibilities for Gigwalk are seemingly infinite, it’s hard to think of just one example until you’ve heard a couple.

Think of mapping companies. You might think that Google Maps already has all the data covered with its satellite imagery and Street View photos, but that mountain of data itself is hardly comprehensive and even less up-to-date, especially for non-urban areas. If a business wants to know all the intersections in a region where it’s legal to make a lefthand turn or where there are red light cameras, there’s no easy way to verify that data.

With Gigwalk, however, that business could pay mobile users a few dollars for every intersection they physically visit and photograph, answering a few questions about, say, the presence of red light cameras.

As an alternative example, if you’re the VP of Marketing at Motorola and the iPhone just launched on Verizon’s network, you might be curious to see how the carrier’s retail stores are positioning marketing materials for iPhone devices versus Android devices. Mobile users that visit the stores could photograph banners and ads for you, earning themselves some extra cash in the process.

In order to maximize quality, the app only allows “Gigwalkers” to fulfill “Gigs” based on their reputation score, which improves over time. Gigwalkers with higher reputation scores unlock higher-paying Gigs, which so far range anywhere from $3 to $90.

Seidman tells me that the higher-paying Gigs either need to be accomplished quickly, involve more complicated steps, or are located in less urban areas, where there aren’t as many people to do the task.

Gigwalk has been in beta for the past six months, allowing the Gigwalk team to tune its finer points, like matching “Gigwalkers” with “gigs.” Today, the app emerges from beta for a public launch.

Besides Dearing, Clavier and Hoffman, Gigwalk is also funded by Alex Lloyd of Accelerator Ventures as well as Bill Trenchard and Eric Paley from Founder Collective. Going forward, the Silicon Valley startup seeks to hire more engineers to flesh out its current team of five, which includes Seidman and two other co-founders, Matt Crampton and David Watanabe.

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