The “gig economy” has become an increasingly popular way for people to earn extra income on their own terms through independent contract work. Several apps have led the way over the years. However, most of these platforms are built primarily around serving the customer rather than empowering the worker, said Derreck Stratton, founder of HUDU, on “The Business Storytelling Show.”
The HUDU platform aims to change that by putting the focus squarely on supporting gig workers. I spoke with HUDU’s founder, Derreck Stratton, to learn more about his vision for a “doer-driven ecosystem” and how HUDU operates.
The Spark Behind HUDU
Derreck shared that the idea for HUDU originated at a holiday party when he offhandedly commented that it’s easy to make extra money these days. A person objected, arguing that making money is hard, not easy. The room fell silent, seemingly in agreement with.
This encounter made Derreck realize the financial struggles faced by many Americans. With 62 percent of Americans living paycheck to paycheck with less than $1,000 in savings, equating to more than 200 million people. Compelled to make a difference, the process to develop HUDU was on its way.
Focusing on the Doer
Unlike other gig platforms that put customer convenience first, HUDU deliberately caters to the needs of gig workers who provide services. The app calls them “doers” to emphasize their active role.
Everything about HUDU centers around enabling doers to prosper. According to Derreck, “If it’s legal, you can list it.” Projects span needs like hair braiding, Valentine’s Day planning, home repairs, car detailing, and more. Doers bid on listings, and the customer (“lister”) reviews bids transparently before selecting their preferred doer.
Derreck stresses that keeping things simple, seamless, and transparent makes for the best experience on both sides. To that end, doers and listers use one unified app instead of separate apps for each role. There are also no subscription fees or upfront costs – HUDU earns revenue by taking 15 percent from doers on completed projects and 5 percent from listers on awarded projects.
Empowering the Doer
The app provides a paid week of vacation for every 25 weeks a doer completes projects. The vacation pay equals the doer’s weekly project average over that period.
“At the core of everything, of course, is our marketplace where we’re connecting people who need things done with people who want to do them,” Derreck said. “But it’s really so much more than that. It’s about all those pain points and obstacles that gig workers are facing, and we’ve provided a solution.”
Appealing to All Ages
HUDU designed both app and web versions to accommodate all ages and comfort levels with technology. As Derreck notes, many older people need help with household tasks or don’t want to risk dangerous jobs like ladder climbing. The web platform provides an easy alternative compared to making them download and learn a new app.
Building for Scale
Currently piloting in Des Moines and Dallas, HUDU strategically recruits doers in a market first before launching to listers. A team monitors listed projects and recruits doers with skills in high demand. Existing doers referring friends to try HUDU receive 10 percent of the friend’s first project payment. Additionally, the friend gets 10 percent off their first awarded project.
Derreck reports doers averaging $50-60 per hour on HUDU so far – a healthy payout no doubt. As HUDU expands nationwide, he anticipates many doers will steadily rely on HUDU gigs as a primary income source.
The Future of the Gig Economy
When asked where he sees the gig economy heading in the future, Derreck doesn’t hesitate – “The gig economy is expected to become a trillion dollar industry by 2027…I genuinely see people using HUDU to make full-time income.” He notes the additional perks in the works that will enable HUDU doers to thrive as independent contractors.
Between wanting extra income and needing full-time work, Derreck believes nearly everyone will participate somehow in the gig economy.
As HUDU works to perfect its model and expand, the app may very well transform the experience and potential for gig workers. Instead of serving the customers foremost, HUDU flips the script to serve those fulfilling the services.