Prior to becoming the CEO of TaskRabbit three years ago, Anya Smith worked in pivotal roles at Uber, Airbnb, Walmart and Expedia. But one of the most formative experiences in preparing her for her current CEO role, she says, was a “gap year” she took with her family in Buenos Aires in 2018—a time when “my husband and I were both at the height of our careers.”
Having come to the U.S. as the child of Eastern European immigrants, Smith understood how navigating a new culture can reinforce family bonds. She also wanted a shared adventure and time to reflect on next stops. Along with achieving those goals, Smith said the experience “gave me more confidence as well, which then led to bigger roles and bigger opportunities.”
TaskRabbit, which was acquired by IKEA in 2017, has made its name largely as a platform in which anyone can offer their services for a fee. While that’s democratized tasks such as moving, cleaning and general handiwork, it also creates challenges around comparing vendors or making sure someone has the skills to get the job done. (The company’s “Happiness Pledge” will reimburse up to $10,000 for eligible claims if something goes wrong.)
While professional experts do use the platform, Smith embraces the zeal of amateur ‘taskers’ who will go on YouTube to learn how to mount a TV and develop expertise through sheer willpower. With taskers earning an average rate of $46 per hour, according to Smith, “it’s an opportunity for people to be able to earn a meaningful income.”
As with any supplier of talent, the challenge is matching supply with demand, which can vary widely from market to market. If users can’t find a service they want at a price they’re willing to pay, they won’t use the platform. Ditto for workers, many of whom have seen their wages rise amid tight labor conditions, making at least some less inclined to unclog someone’s toilet as a side hustle. And, of course, there’s the competition.
Click on the video to hear more from Smith about how she’s leading the business and where she sees both challenges and growth.