TaskRabbit Kicks Off Errand-Running Service in San Francisco, Boston ‘Burbs

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pre-order items from Best Buy or Target and having a runner go to pick them up,” she says. “It’s probably part of the general trend of getting things on-demand—the convenience of shopping online but also getting it the same day.”

Of course, that’s a need that was also served well by Kozmo, a dot-com era startup that raised about $250 million in venture funding and rolled out a popular 1-hour delivery service in cities like San Francisco, Boston, New York, and Washington, DC, before imploding disastrously in April 2001. Busque says she’s a “huge fan” of the Kozmo idea, but not of its business model.

“They actually carried inventory and built warehouses and stored goods and hired a huge delivery force, so they had a ton of overhead,” she says. “Their model was completely different from the TaskRabbit model, which is 100 percent crowdsourced, with virtually no overhead costs and connections facilitated purely through our online platform. But I really do feel like the same sort of cultural phenomenon of on-demand delivery is in play for us, and people get really excited about what we can do.”

Those people include Tim Ferriss, of The 4-Hour Workweek fame, who was an advisor to Busque during the fbFund session and liked her idea enough to connect her with Mike Maples, the “super-angel” founder of Maples Investments (which also changed its name recently, to Floodgate). It was to be closer to Ferriss, Maples, Baseline, and TaskRabbit’s other mentors and advisers that Busque and her husband Kevin moved to San Francisco last month. The company has set up temporary shop at Dogpatch Labs, the Pier 38 venture incubator space run by Waltham, MA-based Polaris Venture Partners.

That decision provoked some discussion and disappointment back in Boston, but Busque says it was the right thing for the company. “I have all this support in the Bay Area, through our mentors and investors and advisers,” she says. “And I always knew that I wanted San Francisco to be our second city, especially after spending the summer out here last year and realizing what a great market this would be. Also, I wanted to make sure that our second city launch went off without a hitch. I’m kind of a control freak, so the thought of hiring someone out here to do it was too much for me.”

By the fall, Busque says, TaskRabbit hopes to have recruited runners in additional Bay Area cities, starting with the South Bay area. And that’s about as far as the company’s modest $1 million war chest will take it. “We’ll be looking to raise another round of funding by the end of the summer or the fall time range, which will support our growth into the next few markets,” she says.

For some idea of where TaskRabbit might pop up next, Busque says, just look at cities where there are lots of Craigslist and Zipcar users—places like Chicago, Atlanta, New York, and Seattle. “We probably track with Xconomy’s expansion pretty well,” she remarks.

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Wade Roush is the producer and host of the podcast Soonish and a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @soonishpodcast

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