The Program

TechStars Blog

4th April 2013

Ziptask and Doing Away with Cheapskates

Outsourcing is broken. It’s risky, painful and most projects fail. Currently finishing TechStars Cloud’s 2013 program, Ziptask is designed from the ground up as a virtual project manager for reliable outsourced work. I spoke with Shawn Livermore, founder and CEO, and Stan Miroshnik, COO.

Q: So you outsource outsourcing. That’s so meta. What’s your pitch?
Stan:  We provide a management layer for customers to outsource work without ever needing to speak with the end freelancers who do the work. We bring together illustrators, designers, developers, content managers, and SEO people to deliver an end-to-end solution. People outsourcing work just want to simplify their lives and it’s too cumbersome and complex. They end up in a place where they are fed up and say, “Fine, I’ll just do it myself,” or they hire a full time employee. It doesn’t have to be so complicated.

Q: You’re creating jobs and improving the economy, all the while guaranteeing the bottom line for companies. The competition is usually international and the customer has to manage their own relationships. How do you differentiate what you’re offering?
Stan: If you’ve ever tried online outsourcing, you know it’s broken. It’s broken because you don’t know the experience of the people you’re considering for the job, you have no barometer of quality and you still face the risks of the contractor disappearing entirely or delivering poor  work. It’s a nightmare. To frame the industry in the space, we’re becoming a layer on top of everything to manage the entire process of an outsourced project; communications, collaborating and payment.
Shawn: We’re a platform where customers come to find project managers who are experienced in a certain vertical or a platform used for a combination of customer and project management. We offer advanced tools that let our customers execute well. Imagine Basecamp, HipChat, PayPal, and QuickBooks in one single place, one single browser, one web app.

Q: Some customers have likely had a bad experience with outsourcing and are hesitant to try a new service. How do you reassure them?
Stan: Our competitors (elance, odesk, etc.) have essentially created a nice international payroll setup, but they stopped there. They’ve never prioritized a customer-friendly experience. The customer still shoulders the brunt of the pain of outsourcing. What’s more, even after years of these platforms being around, outsourcing is still very much subject to fraud and frustration. The platform we built between the customer and the person providing the actual work was designed from the beginning to focus on the customer and give him or her the most ideal outsourcing experience possible.

Q: The Cloud program ends in a couple of weeks. What’s happening now?
Shawn: Yesterday, we quietly rolled out the back office and were fortunate enough to receive coverage in Forbes. We’re planning to raise a seed round to spend mostly on customer acquisition and channel development.