Crowdsource, a company that crowdfunds labor-intensive tasks like content creation and data-crunching, has raised $12.5 million in a round led by Highland Capital Partners.
“We believe that we’re onto a completely new way to get work done at scale,” said CEO and cofounder Stephanie Leffler, in a phone interview with VentureBeat.
The St Louis-based startup’s typical workers are students, housewives, and people with flexible hours. They receive a decent hourly wage (usually between $15 and $30), cash bonuses, and opportunities for higher-paid tasks. Almost all of Crowdsource’s workers are making minimum wage.
With a focus on content, Crowdsource is carving out a niche in the market. Websites that offer similar services are Crowdflower, which is popular with e-commerce companies like eBay, and Servio.
The company is showing early signs of traction. Since it launched in June 2011, the startup has signed on 500,000 workers, who have completed over 25 million tasks. Ninety percent of its workers live in the United States and 65 percent have a bachelor’s degrees or higher.
With the job market still in recovery, there is certainly a market opportunity for semi-skilled labor. “People can do this kind of work as a full-time job,” said Leffler.
The founders have hit on a sweet spot by targeting e-commerce sites that need someone to write a blurb to describe a new line of jeans, or update their FAQ. For customers, the process is simple: a site administrator can send a few bullet points to Crowdsource, this will be turned around by a worker in a matter of hours, and the content will be automatically updated (or they can choose to vet the content first).
Crowdsource will use the funds to invest in their product, hire more workers, and augment their sales and marketing efforts.
Corey Mulloy, general partner at Highland Capital Partners, has joined CrowdSource’s Board of Directors.
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