It is said that necessity is the mother of all invention.
When Dubliner Iain Mac Donald wanted to get a tree surgeon he could trust he found he had a problem. Asking friends to recommend a person with the skill proved to be a slow and ultimately fruitless process. Not comfortable with the idea of hiring somebody through the classifieds he knew there had to be a better way. Thus the beginning, in January of this year of SkillPages, the world’s first skill-based social network.
The mix of traditional social network functionality and an interface that emphasizes the selling and buying of ‘skills’, anything from freelance photography to web design and everything in between, has thusfar proved to be an explosive one: over a million users joined the new network in its first 150 days of operation, and thousands continue to sign on daily. In March, the website scooped a prestigious Silicon Valley award from the Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG), and was dubbed “a company that can change the world” by ITLG Chairman and former Intel CEO Craig Barrett.
“SkillPages caters for every type of skill and members world-wide are benefiting; finding skilled people they can trust and getting found by new customers, employers, business partners and more,” SkillPages Communications Manager, Jack Kissane told IrishCentral.com.
“SkillPages can be used by everybody. At the moment billions of people have skills and billions of people are looking to find them. Currently, it’s not easy for them to find each other. SkillPages is solving this, hence our huge growth in members,” Kissane explains.
The website, like almost all social networks, is free, and the simplistic navigation has proved popular with almost every generation so far. Users register to create a webpage showcasing their skills, and those looking, as CEO Iain McDonald originally did, for unusual or commonplace talents, have an easy time finding them. Users demonstrate their merchantable talents through text, video, photographs and more, and through a combination of social networking, status updates informing their potential clientele of their new skills, and more, have an easy time finding a buyer. On the flip side, those looking for skills can post ‘opportunities’, specifically detailing what and who they’re looking for. Together, claims Kissane, this creates the most accurate and credible representation of your skills that is available online.
The site is headquartered in Dublin with a US office in Palo Alto, California, and, according to Kissane, seeks to capitalize on the global recession by offering a novel and innovative way for users to seek work, where they otherwise might have encountered difficulty.
“In Ireland, for example, unemployment currently stands above 14%,” he explains, “Yet I hear stories everyday of people searching for people to hire but not finding the types of candidates they want. That is a huge problem, a problem that is exacerbating the current economic crisis” he believes.
“A person will only hire somebody, that they know they can trust, that is guaranteed to be reliable and credible, and that has the skills to do the job. A person’s SkillPage profile allows them to prove this and allows the person to get hired - or hire - faster than might otherwise be the case.”
Short-term plans for the site include continuing the site’s strong early momentum, and expanding its user-base into different localities.
“We are always continuously updating the platform and this is allowing us to grow and expand quickly. The sky’s the limit at the moment,” Kissane says optimistically.
And given the network’s strong growth and credentials so far, that optimism may be well-placed.
Moving to Ireland
After living in Ireland for almost one year, this is what I’ve learned