|MiNeeds co-founder Raed
Malhas has established a network of service providers ranging from roof
cleaners and hedge trimmers to computer technicians and children’s party
If frugal is fashionable in today’s economic climate, a
Seattle-based company, MiNeeds.com, takes the movement to new levels. It
improves on existing online review sites and match-up services such as Angie’s
List by offering a competitive bidding system, opening the way for customers to
find affordable services from a range of providers, from lawyers and
contractors to nannies and photographers. In a nutshell, MiNeeds lets consumers
post their specific needs to local service pros who bid for the jobs. Site
users can also discuss and rate services they receive. Service providers can
interact and build trust with shoppers by offering how-to advice and answering
Notably, it appears to be catching on.
Founded in 2007 and launched in 2008, MiNeeds has recruited
25,000 service providers. It is available in scores of cities nationwide and is
expanding into more markets. It is pushing into two new major markets per
month. Site traffic has soared 25 percent month over month. MiNeeds says it has
served more than 13,000 customers during a three-month period.
It all started when co-founder Raed Malhas needed a shoulder
massage after a soccer injury. The software developer was frustrated in his
search for a female masseuse on Queen Anne who took insurance. Along with
co-founder and fellow Microsoft veteran Deniz Erkan, he developed MiNeeds to
resolve such issues.
While not a completely original idea—local dot-com
Imandi.com tried and failed to make a viable business out of service providers
bidding for customers—the economics may work in MiNeeds’ favor this time.
Angie’s List and Service Magic have been successful in certain categories, but MiNeeds
casts a wider net. Also, MiNeeds’ competitive bidding and community building
features set them apart, the co-founders believe.
“There’s nothing like our open, Web 2.0, community-fostering
model,” Erkan says. “Our business model gives power back to the consumers.”
MiNeeds is free for consumers, and
professionals can also create profiles and receive job notifications for free,
and can bid for free if they’re one of the first three bidders on any customer
need. The idea is to encourage quick responses. Otherwise, bidders have to
become members, paying monthly fees ranging from $6.99 to $24.99, depending on
the level of service. MiNeeds also takes a 1 to 2 percent commission on