[From March Issue 2013]
“An illustrator will draw a portrait of you.” “A parliamentary aide will recommend you a suitable gift.” “A professional author will write a novel for you with you as the main character.” “Coconala,” a website where you can make use of these kinds of services for 500 yen, has been gaining attention.
Coconala is a site where knowledge, skills and experience can be bought. The site was launched in July 2012 and has acquired 33,000 users in about six months. At the time of writing more than 3,700 unique services were up for grabs.
At 7:3, the proportion of male users far exceeds female users, and the largest age group is 25 to 35 year olds. Business orientated services to improve skills, such as advice on starting up a business, are popular with men. For women, services that give personal advice, such as fortune telling, are popular. Portrait drawing and illustration services are popular with both men and women.
Calico, an illustrator who offers a portrait drawing service on Coconala, says, “I was working for a company as an ad designer, but I quit because they were not sympathetic about childrearing issues. While thinking of continuing to draw portraits at home, I discovered Coconala where you could offer your services for 500 yen. I made my portrait drawing services available in order to brush up my skills and to reach a wider audience.”
MINAMI Akiyuki, a representative of WelSelf Inc., the company that runs Coconala, says he would like the site to be a place for “business” rather than for making pocket money. “Business has its origins in bartering. Bartering is exchanging what one has for what another person has in order to improve each other’s life. Everyone has some unique kind of experience, knowledge or skills. By offering these skills, people can help some one somewhere in society.”
Minami says, “If you are aware that you have a skill to offer to someone in society, your view of society will change. If there’s a system through which you can offer your skills, even if it’s just for 500 yen, what’s going on in society is no longer somebody else’s business, it gives you a deeper sense of involvement. Through taking action yourself you get a sense that this is a place where you can make a difference to society and by doing so you feel less isolated and get a sense of wellbeing. We run Coconala in this spirit.”
Coconala is now thinking of diversifying their services by setting up a varied pricing system and making the system easier to use via a smartphone.
Text: TSUCHIYA Emi