Airpair plays digital matchmaker between startups, developer experts

The service aims to pair entrepreneurs with outside developers to help them work through tech issues

By Zach Miners, IDG News Service |  Internet

San Francisco-based Late Labs also offers a similar "crowdcoding" service by connecting startups with developers, but that site's model is based more on longer-term projects as opposed to shorter, one-on-one sessions in real time.

Kresner founded two other startups before launching Airpair. In 2005 he launched Preparty, a social invitation and event-booking service based in Australia. But the project "was basically too big," and Kresner did not have enough commercial development experience to sustain it, he said.

The precursor to Airpair was an online rock-climbing community designed to help people find climbing partners, which Kresner launched in London in 2008. The service, Climbfind, eventually attracted more than 1 million users. "Climbfind was proof that I could get traction on a product," Kresner said.

Airpair generates revenue by collecting either a US$20 or a $40 fee on top of the hourly rate set by the developer, which can range from $10 to $230 per hour. The session's price is also based on whether the developer opts to have the session posted publicly on the Airpair website so other entrepreneurs can learn from them for free.

The one- or two-hour sessions might seem like a quick fix, but "we're not handing you a hack," Kresner said. "The expert isn't just handing you something, they're teaching," he said.

Ultimately, Airpair wants to help not just startups, but also banks, financial services companies, and IT more generally. "I was inspired to help entrepreneurs, but the applications could go well beyond that," Kresner said.

As a tool for connecting people, remote videoconferencing has also attracted some attention at this year's South by Southwest Interactive festival. Suitable Technologies, based in Menlo Park, California, generated some buzz at the Austin, Texas, tech show with its Beam device. That product, which takes the form of a talking monitor on wheels, is designed to connect people who are separated by long distances but want to share a physical space.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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