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“Everyone’s good at something”

Kevin Nam created TaskFriend, an app that allows neighbors to connect with each other to “outsource tasks and … to earn money completing flexible jobs,” after his experience as a college student with a busy and unpredictable schedule that made it hard to find work. Nam sat down with Milwaukee Stories to talk about the app, which launches today, and how he hopes the platform will be a way to bring people together. This interview was edited for clarity and length. (Full disclosure: Kevin Nam is a contributing member of milwaukeestories.org)

What does TaskFriend allow me to do?

It really allows you to rely on members within your community, to help you get anything you need done. Because, at the end of the day, we’re not good at everything — we need help in our lives. This allows us to rely on people instead of businesses.

The cost-saving will be there for both people and, for people working, it’s going to really allow them to make more money than working for a business. And, it’s going to allow them to do it on their own terms, you know, on their own time, [for] what they believe is a fair price.

I believe that it could really add value to everyone’s lives, because people can start really relying on each other. We’ve become this society were, you know, we’re going our own ways; we’ve started not collaborating with people, working with people — we’ve started working by ourselves.

Why is this needed? Why can’t people just start working together?

It’s hard to find a means to come together. So, that’s what businesses do — it’s hard for me to find a person so the business does that but, if they’re doing that, they take a profit. This really allows you to interact with people, you know, work together on a collaboration, not with a business. So, it’s really getting rid of that middle man, and that’s what we’re really trying to do.

We have a five percent transaction fee but that’s not how we want to monetize — that’s how we’re starting. The five percent transaction fee barely covers our credit card transaction fee of three percent. We want to add value in other ways.

When I use the platform, how do I know I’m going to be safe?

At the minimum, we require phone verification. So, you know that that person is tied to the phone number. And, most people, they’re not going to commit a crime if they’re tied to something. At the end of the day, our philosophy is that most people are trying to earn their money, they’re not trying to screw other people over.

Once people are together, we can figure it out. People are smart, people are really hard-working, people are good.

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Who will this help the most?

I think this will help people who are trying to gain freedom in their lives, people who don’t have enough time in their lives that could really use a hand and people who could use extra income.

When you get a job, you need to be on a fixed schedule or you need to have a certain amount of time allotted every week. On some weeks, I had a little bit of time; other weeks, I had no time. This basically gives you the freedom to work when you want, for how much you think your value’s worth for that job.

What kind of effect do you hope to see?

I’m hoping that it will have two effects. One is [to] lower the price of services. The price of services right now is insanely high when your neighbors could probably do it for a lot less. Number two is: allow people to really work on their own terms, to choose when they work, which jobs they can do and how much they want to charge.

The marketplace becomes more efficient as more people come on it. For example, neighbors have to travel less to get to your house to do the job. We’re talking about two people coming to an agreement to do something at a certain price. Who are we to say you can’t do that? There’s enough money that the person paying can pay less and the person earning could earn more. We’re thinking there’s enough to go around.

Once people are together, we can figure it out. People are smart, people are really hard-working, people are good — we’re good at collaborating. That’s how society, itself, exists. And, in a way, we already do this, it’s just we go through an intermediary, we go through a business but, at the end of the day, the businesses send the person, right?

According to Nam, TaskFriend will provide $20,000 for neighbors to act as ambassadors. “There’s going to be potential to earn money on the platform as soon as we launch,” said Nam, adding that ambassador jobs will be posted by the company at locations around Milwaukee. The app’s most frequent users will have the opportunity to, eventually, earn shares in the company.

Download the app.

Update (Oct 18, 2017): All ambassador positions currently listed are concentrated in the Riverwest neighborhood and near UWM.

Milwaukee Stories is a nonprofit organization that brings you the real stories of regular people. This work is supported by small, individual monthly contributions from people just like you; we need your help.

People on the Street | Charles Revello (Part 2)

As a child, Charles Revello struggled to find a community, somewhere he could belong. Eventually, he found was he was looking for; despite some recent setbacks, Charles longs to return home.

Watch: Part 1 of Charles’ story.

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People on the Street | Rufus Glen Sampson (Part 2)

Rufus Sampson grew up with a trial-and-error mindset, to which he still ascribes today.

Watch: Part 1 of Rufus’ story.

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People on the Street | Brittany Komperda

Brittany Komperda’s sister passed away from bone cancer when she was 12 years old. As a result, Komperda learned to cherish life, and family.

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We need your help! Milwaukee Stories is a nonprofit organization that brings you the real stories of regular people. This work is supported by small, individual monthly contributions from people just like you.

“We made it work”

Wearing a bubblegum colored zip-up jacket, a black polo with a small McDonald’s logo and the matching visor in hand, Keiarra Travis frequently glances down West Vienna Avenue looking for her ride to work.

This neighborhood, a neat triangle situated between MLK Drive, Port Washington Road and Capitol Drive, has been the only home she’s ever known.

“It’s not really that bad,” Travis shrugs. “I mean you got ups and downs in the neighborhood, people shooting, but it’s not that bad. We stay to ourselves.”

Keiarra was born in Chicago, but when she and her sister were six months old, her mother left them in their grandma’s care.

“She couldn’t take care of us,” she says of her mother. “She had six kids and it was a lot.”

In the end, Travis says her mother made the right decision. The girls made friends and food was on the table every night. According to Keiarra, she led a “regular life.”

“I wasn’t scarred,” she says. “I am not even mad about it, I am actually happy she did what she did.”

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When Keiarra was 12, her mother returned to Milwaukee to reunite with her daughters. They all eventually moved in together down the street from her grandma’s old house.

These days, some nieces and nephews live with them, too; over the years, Travis and her mother developed what she calls a “good connection.”

“I tell her everything, boyfriend problems and all that,” she smiles. “It’s not like I grew up hating her, because I knew of her situation.

“Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to make things work.”

Travis, 17, who attends Vincent High School, is saving money for a car and making a decent living for herself and her family. She doesn’t want much more than that.

“I am not really trying to be famous or anything,” she says. “As long as I make enough money for myself and to take care of others … I will be straight for the rest of my life.”

Keiarra’s ride slowly pulls up to the curb beside her. The engine sputters to a halt as her friend announces that she’s going to be late. With a laugh, Travis gets in, slamming the door shut. The car’s engine springs back to life with a loud rumble as the vehicle disappears down the otherwise quiet street.⬩

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Milwaukee Stories is a nonprofit organization that brings you the real stories of regular people. This work is supported by small, individual monthly contributions from people just like you; we need your help.

People on the Street | Charles Revello (Part 1)

After leaving the Marine Corps, Charles Revello lost his family, and his home, because of drugs. But, something his mother said on her deathbed helped Charles to start being honest with himself.

Watch: Part 2 of Charles’ story.

See more videos from Milwaukee Stories, Inc.

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We need your help! Milwaukee Stories is a nonprofit organization that brings you the real stories of regular people. This work is supported by small, individual monthly contributions from people just like you.

“I kept getting stronger”

Standing in the doorway of her home, Patricia Williams smiles at her husband working in their front yard.

“I have seen a whole lot but I still like Milwaukee,” she says. “I like the greenery and I like the peoples.”

Growing up in housing projects on Chicago’s west side, she says she rarely saw anything green; drugs, gangs, and violence were all too familiar. The third-oldest of 14, she refers to herself as “street-wise.”

As a 14-year-old, Williams witnessed someone get shot in the head while visiting a friend who only lived a few blocks away.

At 23, she fought her way out of being raped after trying to start a polite conversation with a man standing near her building.

“From that time [on], I was afraid,” she recalls.

Those experiences brought her to Milwaukee.

After her first time to the city visiting family, she realized that Milwaukee was where she wanted to live her life and raise her children. It was 1982 when Mrs. Williams packed her bag and caught the Greyhound, with her three younger children in tow, to establish their new lives in Milwaukee.

But that fear she’d felt, it didn’t all stay in Chicago. “I kept [my kids] close to me. I always wanted to know where you were. You couldn’t go over nobody house unless I met the parents and I have got to know who is in the house.”

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Williams has had her fair share of ups and down. For her, life has often been about getting by without much help. Having worked at a number of restaurants during her time in Chicago, Williams knows her way around food, a skill that serves her well as a food service supervisor at Hope Christian School: Prima.

“I love it … I love the kids most of all. I like feeding them. I like seeing smiles on they face.”

She’s had students tell her the reason they love coming to school is because they get to eat. “It brings tears to my eyes.”

But Mrs. Williams always does her best to make the children smile, whether it’s through an extra snack, kind words or simply listening to what is on their minds.

Her husband, whose she’s been married to for 26 years, loves kids too.

“We had our ups and downs and separations, and fussed and cussed and raised hell but I will never let go. You got to keep going.”

Williams, who recently turned 58, recalls her goals, as a young woman.

“I really wanted to be a Mother. I wanted to get married. I wanted to have the picket fence … I wanted my husband to have a good job, I just wanted to be a housewife, taking care of my kids and going to the PTA meetings and all of the little stuff like that,” she says. “It didn’t come out to be all that but I got the kids.”

And she still remembers the advice her grandmother gave her when she was just a teen.

“You have got to do what you got to do,” she closes her eyes and smiles. “She said ‘sometimes it’s gone get hard, sometimes it’s gone be easy … but when it get hard, you get stronger.’”

“Each time I went through something that is exactly what I did.”⬩

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Milwaukee Stories is a nonprofit organization that brings you the real stories of regular people. This work is supported by small, individual monthly contributions from people just like you; we need your help.