Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Former pro basketball player, dad create online start-up

For superstars like Shaquille O'Neal or Michael Jordan, life after basketball is easy. Endorsements, appearances and money will keep rolling in. But for other pro basketball players, the future is a little different.

Marshall Strickland, a South Carroll alum and former player for Indiana University, has a few ideas up his sleeve. About a year and a half ago Strickland ended a five-year stint of playing professional basketball overseas in Turkey, Italy and Poland, he said.

While having a conversation with his father, Marshall mentioned he would love to have someone do some of his packing and make some money helping him out. His dad, Marshall Strickland II, hopped onto the idea and the two created a business opportunity.

Since then, the father-son duo has launched a website that's more similar to governments taking bids from contractors on projects than Craigslist. The website,, allows workers to bid on a chore or job, then people choose who they want to do the work.

The website works like this: a person will post a job, and the workers will bid on it. They bid on how much they can complete the project for and how long they estimate it will take. After receiving bids, a person will hire them for that specific project.

There are message boards that support project information, and each poster will have a previous history of chores and reviews.

While the site has been live for three months, the younger Strickland said now is the time they're metaphorically opening their doors.

How does a free website make money? There's a 7.5 percent service fee for both the worker and poster, he said. If people aren't on the site, the creators don't get paid, he said.

It's more transparent and interactive than a website like Craigslist or Angie's List, the younger Strickland said.

The elder Strickland, of Mount Airy, said it particularly seemed like a good opportunity for Carroll County.

"In our area, people are extremely busy," he said. "We know a lot of people that are out of work. We have neighbors who need jobs and we have neighbors who have chores."

It gives people the opportunity to earn a little extra cash, he said.

Last year's unemployment rate in Carroll County averaged 6.2 percent, according to data from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. For the month of April, the most recent data available, an estimated 5,184 residents remain unemployed.

The economic recovery has been slow, which University of California Berkeley economics professor Martha Olney examined in a recent paper about service-based economies. The paper, published in March, is titled Goods, Services, and the Pace of Economic Recovery, and was authored with Aaron Pacitti.

Service economies focus on trading services for dollars, which is increasingly more difficult to recover from in a recession, according to Olney's study.

The study concludes that if the United States had been creating as many goods as it was 50 years ago, the recession would have ended one year earlier than it did in the 2009 recession.

Because a service-based company can't anticipate the demand, it creates a weak recovery, she said.

"In a world in which businesses are producing goods, they can produce those goods in advance of actual demand. They anticipate things getting better, so they start to increase production. They can do that because they can inventory their goods," she said.

While people are still out of work, small projects like painting a door for $60 can be beneficial, but not make a marked dent in the economy, she said.

"Any time somebody gets some income and then is able to spend that income that helps the economy," she said.

The elder Strickland said he anticipates projects will likely just bring in additional income, depending on if people are in transition between careers or retired or want to pick up a couple of extra bucks.

Community ratings will drive the future of the venture, he said. By making the website as transparent as possible, linking the jobs and workers will create a very healthy online community, the younger Strickland said.