Alumnus starts online service marketplace

Finding a reliable and trustworthy service to take care of chores such as lawn care, dog walking or housekeeping is not always easy. Alumnus Anthony Whittington has founded a startup to simplify the process for both sides.

Whittington, who earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering at the School of Engineering & Applied Science in 2002 and a law degree from the School of Law in 2006, started QuickChore.com last summer. The Washington, D.C.-based startup is a one-stop shop for consumers seeking any kind of service, from lawn and home care to tutors and hairdressers, Whittington says.

“Our goal is to reinvent the marketplace and to be an Amazon.com for service professionals,” he says. “Unlike some existing sites, we allow for an ad platform, e-commerce payment processing, reviews and ratings, background checks and real-time scheduling. And it doesn’t cost the consumer anything to use it.”

With QuickChore.com, a consumer can search for a type of service provider. The site’s algorithm focuses on the providers with the best reviews and allows users to compare pricing, availability and scheduling all on one page. Service providers pay $15 a month to be a part of the network and pay a small processing fee for each order. Payment for services is through Amazon.com, a strategic partner in the business.

QuickChore.com is available only in the Washington, D.C., area now, but Whittington has plans to expand to other cities.

Whittington has combined his engineering and law backgrounds to get QuickChore.com off the ground and to ensure it keeps its niche.

“We’re doing things no one else is doing,” he says. “We filed for patents and have all of our trademarks in place.”

While an Engineering student at Washington University, Whittington was a part-time programmer for a local publication. After he graduated, he started his work in patents by worked as a patent examiner for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and as a patent agent for several law firms. After graduating from law school, he worked in patent litigation and intellectual property, again combining his engineering and law education. All the while, he maintained his skills as a programmer.
“I have a unique set of skills,” he says. “My expertise is technology, but I try to get my hands dirty on everything.”

QuickChore.com has been amassing users since its launch and has been working hard to get the word out to small business owners and providers. Whittington says the company is debt free and has five employees, all of whom are invested in the company. So far, feedback has been good from both consumers and service providers, he says.

Getting a startup off the ground is not without challenges, Whittington says. Last fall, some personal issues required his full-time attention, putting the business on hold temporarily. But things are now back up and running with plans to acquire more service providers and start more promotions.

“We’re going to focus on getting the experience right,” he says. “We want to keep our overhead low and keep working to build that solution so we can grow.”