I know what you're thinking..why is there a spelling mistake on the title? Too lazy to correct it? Maybe if it actually was a mistake, but it's not. In February 2010, entrepreneurs Micha Kaufman and Shai wininger founded a company called Fiverr, a micro economy where individuals can buy and sell services for $5 (pounds or any other currency for that matter). The idea is if you have any skill, hobby or tricks that you show to your friends (from puppeteering to medical advice and Photoshop), then it's worth something. The appeal of the concept is down as much to timing as anything else, as the tough jobs market means more talented people are out of work, allowing Fiverr to tap into that resource. The appeal doesn't stop there, Fiverr's model is low risk, if a service is substandard, then at worst you lose a fiver. It also has great growth potential for those involved; “ The grand vision of Fiverr is to create a marketplace where people can start small but take a hobby and create a business with it”. How exactly? We'll take a look in a minute, but first, a little bit of detail on the business
Not only is Fiverr's concept simple, but so is the business model and customer interface; of the $5 every buyer makes $1 is kept by the company. It's easy to create an account, and once made the business is entirely your own. You can control how much you charge for services (as long as it's no less than $5) and exactly what services you offer for how much. Puppeteer Mark Gray, did just that; “ That's the way to really make money off Fiverr...you have to have a basic service...and then you offer upgrades”, and becoming $15000 better off proves he's not wrong. The services offered can be something unique that very few other people can do (for example, an impression of Christopher Walken) or a menial but important task, like converting a table from Microsoft Word to Excel. Ironically, it was Micha's problems with word that gave birth to Fiverr. Dragging or hiring someone to do something so small is a waste, but leaving it creates more problems. Despite only having the practical dimension in mind, it immediately attracted a diverse talent pool; “ It turns out a lot of people out there know how to do cool stuff”.
Whether you're selling breakdancing lessons, sending postcards, burning effigy's of your enemy, Fiverr converts all these things into quick and easy cash. But what do users actually gain from doing this? Well first, it exposes you to the different aspects of running a business. “the experience has helped me learn a lot... I've learned how to deal with people better” remarked Ingrassia, a successful designer on the site. But why Fiverr? people can gain business experience doing these things without going through Fiverr. Again we see the brilliance of the concept. Many people either can't or are put off from starting a business. Obtaining office space, funding (investment), producing a product or delivering a service can be daunting challenges. What Fiverr allows is for you take something you can already do and sell it to someone. In a way it's a ready made business; the product/service is there, and given that it's a hobby, the incentive is there. The possibility of making money is just an added bonus. In doing so it shifts our perception from money as a primary goal to a secondary reward, turning your passion into a business.
Two years and the idea has more that just caught on. Since starting, the company has moved from strength to strength; transaction volume increased %600 from 2011. Total funding since launch is now £20 million, with £15 million invested just recently. Despite this, however, there are some limitations. Whilst they have “levels” which indicate sellers performance and reputation, there is still risk of getting scammed, especially if you're an inexperienced user. There is also the fact that, despite it's growth, it's still near impossible to support yourself through Fiverr alone. Nevertheless, Fiverr's strengths outweigh it's limitations. One taste of the business world is all you need to get hooked, and the fact that Fiverr made this transition so easy is what marks their success. Even if you choose to start your own business without Fiverr later on, it gives you that initial exposure. Another entrepreneur once said that the key to success is to “think big, start small and move fast”. Fiverr let's you start as small as you like, making it a better place than any.
[Editor's Note] Milos Bezanov is a second year student currently studying International Politics at King’s College London.