TaskRabbit Kicks Off Errand-Running Service in San Francisco, Boston ‘Burbs
TaskRabbit—known until this April as RunMyErrand—was one of the darlings of the Bay Area investing community when it emerged from the inaugural session of Facebook’s fbFund incubator program last summer. Founding CEO Leah Busque headed out to Facebook’s Palo Alto headquarters in June 2009, and by October her Boston-born startup had picked up checks totaling $1 million from Menlo Park, CA-based Maples Investments and San Francisco-based Baseline Ventures.
Now the company is formally kicking off its service in San Francisco, which is also its new corporate home. That means overworked professionals, in a city that’s full of them, can go online and hire TaskRabbit “runners” to do whatever needs to be done—walking the dog, going grocery shopping, picking up the dry cleaning. It’s an idea Busque (pronounced “buss-key”) calls “service networking”: using the power of online social networking to get things done in the real world. And the startup’s expansion to the City by the Bay after more than a year of operations in Boston is a sign that TaskRabbit’s investors think it could be the next big thing for busy urbanites.
At the same time, TaskRabbit is expanding beyond downtown Boston into the suburbs of Greater Boston, including the South Shore, the North Shore, and the Metro West area. The startup’s network of trusted runners in Massachusetts—all of whom have been subjected to background checks—now numbers more than 300, Busque says.
TaskRabbit actually began matching customers (“senders”) with runners in the Boston suburbs this spring, but hasn’t officially promoted the service until now. “The timing for the experiment was good because we had all of these requests coming in from the suburbs, and we also knew that in the coming weeks we would be looking ahead toward San Francisco,” Busque says. “So we thought this would be a great way to get the platform and the technology ready for the bigger market launch here in San Francisco, and allow us to work out some tweaks as we go along in the Boston ‘burbs.”
To make the service work well for Boston’s suburban residents, Busque says, TaskRabbit had to add functions such as the ability to filter available jobs and available runners by city. That feature will come in handy as the company pursues plans to expand to Bay Area communities outside of San Francisco.
After a couple of weeks of testing in San Francisco with an invitation-only group of about 50 beta users, Busque says San Franciscans seem to be using the service in pretty much the same way as Bostonians. “One of the most popular tasks in Boston—and it seems to be the case in San Francisco as well—is the idea of personal shopping, just being able to … Next Page »