harnessing the power of educated stay-at-home moms

A few weeks ago, I was having a discussion with a colleague whose wife is extremely well-educated but stays at home with their two kids.  This is a quite common story, with many stay-at-home moms having bachelors from prestigious colleges all the way to moms with PhDs.  I'm sure it happens with blokes too, but it is much more common route for women.

We then talked about how hard it is to find part-time work.  In 2010, I was pre-grad school doing research part time (so my schedule was super flexible), and I couldn't find a second part-time gig that worked and was worth it.  It's just hard.

So we came up with a startup idea: basically a high-end Amazon Mechanical Turk for connecting people with part-time work.  It would have to be less sketchy than craigslist jobs, and on a per-task basis.  The idea is that employers could break tasks down into small chunks--1 hour, 15 minutes, etc., have a deadline, and a minimum skill level in certain areas.  Individuals could accomplish tasks, "level up," and make money.  In addition to skills, you could have an optional review process to accept a task or request a redo/edits before payment.  There could bonuses for doing N tasks for a company, or doing a certain number of variations on the same task, accomplishing a task early, or for doing an excellent job.

This would require re-imaging how tasks are assigned and reviewed in the work environment, but I'd like to hope that it wouldn't be too hard.  What would be good candidates for this?  There'd be many boring tasks, certainly.  Data entry, ugh.  But writing summaries could be fun, as could be tagging photos and participating in user studies. If I were a user of this system, I could write web-scraping scripts for folks, do web development, or accomplish other small programming tasks.

There could be a competition component for some things, like the various logo/website design sites out there.  For example, a company could judge from the first three submissions and accept one or none.

Regardless of the details, there should be a web service like this, that pays more and has harder, more skilled-based tasks than AMT.  This wouldn't help just SAHMs, but it would be good for the unemployed or partially-employed, in general.  As for the companies?  I don't think they'd mind getting more work done.


Petra said...

I think this is a great idea; these things exist right now in scattered places, so a centralized location would be awesome. It would also be like TaskRabbit for higher-end white collar work, instead of running errands. (I also think TaskRabbit could be great for stay at home moms.) Start it! Then if you need a risk&fraud department (or, actually, anything else) for your payouts you can hire me:)

ajbc said...

One day I'll get around to turing an idea into reality....

Cedric said...

Mensa had a similar idea, for just smart (even if uneducated) unemployed people. They called it mensa process. Google it. I have no clue whether it works though.

ajbc said...

I'd like this to work at scale and reach a lot of people. There are only about 100k Mensans in the world and it's a pretty high threshold to enter, so even if Mensa Process works well, it's both at too small of a scale and has too limited an audience. That said, their program might reveal insights for a larger scale endeavor. Thanks for the tip!