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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

August 7, 2007 at 1:00 PM

Service referral site started by ex Microsoft couple

UberSquare.com will “officially launch” Wednesday after operating in friends and family mode since Mach.

The site lets people post projects they’re working on, such as a kitchen remodel. Then service providers can submit proposals do the work, similar to posting a comment on a blog.

Jenny Chan and Henry Tam started the site after having trouble finding a good hardwood floor installer. They’re married ex-Microsofties; she was formerly a senior financial analyst and he was a Virtual Earth development lead.

Their site also includes a social networking feature, of course. Users can create a group of friends or family and share referrals with them.

In an unusual move for such a small site, they’re using a micropayment system. Consumers can post projects for free, but service providers are charged credits to respond with a proposal. Credits cost from $1 to 67 cents depending on the purchase plan used.

To start, the site is focusing on the Northwest and will only extend from Portland to Vancouver, B.C.

It brings to mind Imandi.com, a well-funded “services marketplace” startup that flamed out in the dot-com bust.

Seattle-based Judysbook.com also has roots in service referral – it’s named after a book of preferred service providers kept by a founder’s mother-in-law — but it’s now primarily a deal-hunting shopping site duking it out with Mpire.com.

Chan’s announcement describes UberSquare as “eBay meets Craigslist” but maybe it’s community features will do a better job weeding out sketchy vendors.

Comments | Topics: Microsoft, Startups

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