Finally, A “Turk” That Works for Bootstrapped Startups

February 13, 2017 - 2 minutes read

Algorithms and machine learning are pretty much a given for serious mobile startups these days. Unfortunately, machine learning takes data, and data isn’t always available — at a startup-friendly price point, anyway.

A new startup out of India called Playment aims to solve that problem, and their clever solution deserves a spot in any mobile app developer’s third-party toolkit. Essentially, Playment is designed to operate like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, but with a few twists.

First, it’s mobile-based, so “Turks” can complete their tasks on the go, unlike AT which requires workers to stay chained to a desktop. In a TechCrunch interview, the startup’s founder Siddharth Mall said that making this sort of “filler” work more enjoyable is part of their mission. “We give them [workers] the flexibility to work at home, or wherever they wish, because it’s on mobile. You could pay for coffee you’re standing in line for by doing simple tasks,” said Mall. “It’s not like Mechanical Turk where you’re forced to sit in a place and do the same things. It’s flexible and open and you can do whatever you want, and you can earn money as much as you can earn in a normal daily job.”

Second, it’s focussed purely on mobile products, making the platform a good fit for Bay Area mobile developers and startups seeking a more finely-tuned workforce for crowd-scale projects. This has major applications for quality assurance, visual recognition, validating product reviews, and other simple tasks that need human input — at least in the early stages.

While machine learning and crowd-sourced work platforms can have negative social implications in a dwindling job market, startups and mobile app developers have the potential to approach the problem in a responsible way that strives to serve clients, companies, and on-demand workers with equal value.

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