These siblings have created Airtasker for private parties, but is it too niche?

- September 9, 2014 2 MIN READ

When you’re throwing a private party, an extra pair of hands or three is always helpful. But finding hired help is difficult without agency intermediation – which generally involves high costs.

Founded by brother-sister duo Richard and Katrina Macphillamy, Partistaff breaks from the traditional agency model, and offers a platform for party hosts to discover and hire helpers who have hospitality experience and are already accustomed to parties. Not all that different in concept to startups like OneShift, Expert360 and Airtasker, Partistaff gives party hosts flexible support at an hourly (starting from $20) or per event (e.g. $100) rate. The Partistaff marketplace alleviates many of the pain points associated with hiring party staff – cost, time, uncertainty and risk.

“There are plenty of travellers and uni students with hospitality experience, looking for casual and part time work.  We thought it was time someone opened up that market and connected those looking for work to those looking to hire.  Now everyone can afford to get hired help at their next party!” says Richard.

Although theoretically, people can hire an ‘Airtasker’ to help out at a party, Richard says that by focusing on the party niche, they can appeal more strongly to the hundreds of thousands of private parties Australians throw every year. He also points out that Partistaff is a more cost-efficient alternative for those who are looking to hire bulk staff at late notice.

“We’ve got a guy currently that is looking to hire 100 staff for a gig they are recording to DVD … and recently a marketing company hired 60 people in Brisbane for a promo event for a client. There are some big savings to be had,” says Richard.

When you consider the type of parties or events there, Partistaff’s scalability becomes more apparent. The platform can be used to hire help for weddings, birthday gatherings, cocktail parties, corporate events and even cultural festivals, among many more.

At this very moment, there are 20 jobs listed on the site. Together, the clients are looking to hire 200 staff. Since launching in September last year, Partistaff has hired out about 1,000 staff, and there are over 2,000 people signed up and ready to work. Richard believes uptake is spread out across all states in Australia.

The startup has been primarily bootstrapped, with the co-founders raising a small amount of funds from friends. Richard and Katrina are not looking to raise funds as they feel it’s important to have full control over the direction of the business at this early stage.

Marketing and converting awareness to sales have been the biggest challenges for Partistaff.

“[It’s been challenging to get] people to use our site rather than an agency and getting people to realise that they can get help, even if it’s just one person to wash up dishes at a dinner party without paying exorbitant sums. It’s a change in the way people think, and it needs a lot of prompting,” says Richard.

Nevertheless, it’s been a rewarding journey, even though Partistaff is still in its infancy. Richard says that hearing back from clients who hired staff at late notice, and those staff helped make the event great, has helped with concept validation.

For the short term, Partistaff will remain focused on growing its staff database; and eventually, it wants to become Australia’s foremost ‘one stop party shop’. It may seem too niche at this stage, but there are plenty of opportunities for the startup to diversify its offering. There may even be opportunities where Partistaff can strategically partner with caterers and other party-related companies.