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eBounties: Want Something? Just Ask the Crowd

If you were to go back and read science fiction at the dawn of the computer era, the optimism was staggering.  Technologists predicted flying cars, the end of disease and famine, and even teleportation.

Fast-forward to 2013 and the Internet age, and what do we have to show for it?  Websites of streaming videos of kittens.

Mind you, that’s a harsh assessment: the Internet, of course, is extremely valuable and has improved lives (and OMG those cats are adorable).  But many contrarians argue that a lot of the brainpower and effort that goes into making the next site about men who look like Kenny Rogers could best be directed at creating sites that can y’know, help people.  Which is why we’re so excited about  eBounties.

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eBounties is a crowdsourcing platform that lets users post what they want, and get it.  Better yet, by providing whatever a user wants you the provider can reap financial rewards.  These rewards, or bounties, are all pre-approved through PayPal to confirm that the money is available.  As you can imagine, this model is tremendously flexible and promising.  Bounties can be awarded for the personal (e.g. “I’m looking for a male 30-something tennis coach in Boston for my teenage son”) to the business-oriented. For example a company seeking the right employee. In this case they could choose to pay the bounty only after a successful hire.

To get started, you need to register.  The site is free, and once registration is out of the way, you can naturally post what you’re looking for or respond to a need.  Users browsing the site can claim a bounty in two ways: by providing the exact knowledge, service, item or connection that a buyer is looking for; or by connecting the buyer with someone who has it.  It’s that simple.

We specifically like eBounties for two reasons.  One, the level of precision it brings to the searching process.  The Internet makes looking for things pretty easy, but as we all know, search engines can only do so so much.  Or, as eBounties Luke Chao notes, “You can’t just go to Google and type in ‘hypnotherapists in Toronto who are looking for part-time contract work’ or ‘a nine-foot tall mirror that could be mounted like a door for under $100’ and get useful results.”  With eBounties, you can.

Second, we like how eBounties’ model differentiates it from the competition.  Their FAQ page makes no bones about it: if you want to sell your old sofa, eBay or Craigslist is probably a better bet.  They have no designs on infringing on that turf.  Rather, eBounties is all about relationships, matching well-connected sellers who provide a valuable service to buyers.  eBounties can help both parties do away with the middleman – headhunters, matchmakers, or other service providers – while also acknowledging that sometimes providing a connection is just as valuable as providing a tangible product.  It also doesn’t hurt that the site navigation is clean, simple, and easy to use.

Which brings us back to the less-than-useful nature of many elements of the Internet.  We won’t dwell on it, lest we inadvertently slander the hard work of many intelligent people out there (like the person who created SpamRadio.  Stunning work, really.)  So instead we’ll say this.  Since our ancestors first crawled out of a festering, putrid swamp many millennia ago, we as humans have been searching– for shelter, for the meaning of life, or maybe just a good burrito.  It’s part of our DNA.  This existential quest may never end, but with its flair for the precise and a seller-centric model, eBounties can make searching (and life) a lot easier.

So check it out.  And while you’re at it, maybe drop a line to Bono’s publicist.  Apparently during a recent concert in Berlin he still hadn’t found what he was looking for.  As tech-savvy as he probably is, he could still probably use a head’s up.

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