Valuable Visualizations

In the SXSW “startup village” in the Hilton, the Head of Business development for TaskRabbit spoke about the experiences of his startup, on a panel with other startups (e.g. Hipmunk travel site)


TaskRabbit is a service that pairs seasoned background-checked helpers with people who need help with a task. Examples include furniture assembly and dry cleaning pickup. The helped pay the helpers (the “rabbits”) and TaskRabbit takes a cut.

One interesting anecdote he told was that they did A/B testing with imagery for their monthly newsletter and discovered that if the header image featured a Rabbit (i.e. a person) rather than a featured task, response rates for the same newsletter in the same geography jumped 20%.

But what was perhaps an even more interesting piece of information was a data visualization they produced in-house plotting their sales data against geography. The example he shared in particular was for San Francisco. It showed which areas of town were much more ripe for potential customers and which we’re slower, and that gave the company direction as to where to send street teams.

What interested me was that this was a lean startup with not much money to spend, but they devoted resources (“if we had our last dollar what would we spend it on?”) to this analysis. It’s smart marketing with targeted reach, and it didn’t take a lot of money to do it. What I also thought about was how this data could be visualized in real time, or even collected over time and shown as a time lapse animation. If a startup can afford to prioritize these sorts of steps, then large established companies should be able to pull it off as well, for a practically negligibly small slice of their budgets.