Google invents new revenue stream, Heplouts, initially designed to connect people

Google is offering a whole new way to fix real-life problems—now users are prompted not just to “google it” to find some information on the issue, but can also get a “personalized” video advice from real people. The tech powerhouse is launching Helpouts, an online service that connects people who seek help with those who can provide the required guidance though paid or free online meet-ups. The service is offered in eight categories, from Art&Music and Cooking to Fitness&Nutrition and Health.

The new platform connects users with experts in a variety of areas, both individuals and trusted brands like Sephora, Rosetta Stone and Weight Watchers to name a few. The expert support can range from the advice on how to remove a computer virus, create a flawless make-up to solve kitchen catastrophes, play the guitar, and many more. Before signing up for a class with an expert, one can view his or her brief profile, check out their qualifications and availability as well as the price of the class and its ratings/reviews.

During the one-on-one session, users can not only watch the mentor and talk to him or her—they can also share a computer screen to, for instance, collaboratively edit a presentation, and also record the Helpout for a personal collection. Some of the Helpouts are free, and the rest have a fixed price per class or a per-minute rate—one can purchase a Heplout using Google Wallet. Google will receive 20 per cent from each payment for the class. The service uses the money-back guarantee strategy—if the video tutorial doesn’t meet a user’s expectations, the dollars spent on the Helpout will be refunded.

At the initial stage of the project, Google has invited 1,000 companies to join in. It is also encouraging more vendors and experts to participate—they can request an invitation code here. Apparently, Google will use the “invitation only” scheme for the companies to avoid potential misuse of the service. With the new service, Google is tapping into the skill-sharing trend and leverages the popularity of Google+ Hangouts that is now frequently used for commercial purposes.

“Helpouts may not be suitable for every occasion, and it will take time to get used to interactions via real time video. We hope that the efficiency, convenience and global reach of Helpouts will make people’s lives easier in the long term,” commented Udi Manber, Google’s VP Engineering in the blogpost.