The wait is finally over, at least for those lucky TechCrunch readers in the Bay Area. Today, TechCrunch50 winner RedBeacon is opening its doors to San Francisco and the surrounding area, allowing users to submit requests to local service providers without ever having to pick up the phone.
If you missed the company’s great demo at TC50, here’s how it works: RedBeacon has spent the last few weeks building out a directory of local service providers, which encompass everything from Accountants to Yard Workers and unskilled labor (Cofounder Ethan Anderson says it already includes providers from several hundred categories, including video editors, makeup artists, personal trainers, and many more).
Beginning today, users will be able to submit requests to these providers for whatever it is they need done. Need to tidy up a house in time for dinner? Submit a RedBeacon request for a Maid. Want some cookies baked by the weekend? Sign up for a baker, and so on. Each time you submit a request, RedBeacon creates an auction and alerts providers that there is an available job. These providers quote prices for the job in question, which you can see appearing in real time (providers can also ask you follow-up questions if they need more details). Once you find a provider and price you like, you can end the auction and schedule the job.
I just tried setting up an order, and found the process to be quite easy. To begin with, RedBeacon asks you to type in whatever kind of service you’re looking for. As you type, it presents a list of matching options (so “Tutor” would bring up results for “Biology Tutor, Math Tutor, and teachers for a host of other subjects). The site also uses some intelligence to help match similar job categories (a query for “Transcriptionist” will suggest “Typist”).
For our example, I decided to try ordering some cupcakes for delivery from Kara’s, a premium cupcake maker about a mile away from TechCrunch HQ. I began by typing in “Delivery person”, which the site changed to a more appropriate “Courier”. I filled out the job description with some more details and our address. The site offers two options for timing: you can either send out a RedBeacon Alert, which notifies providers in the area that there’s a job to be done immediately, or you can schedule it if you’d like to give more providers time to respond. (I chose Alert) After that, I was done — the site is currently polling local providers to see if they’d like to bring TechCrunch some cupcakes. I’ll update with the results later on.