November 15, 2013

An interview with Leah Busque

Leah Busque (her Twitter) is the founder of TaskRabbit, which is not a social network - it's a service network. TaskRabbit is a marketplace helping you to outsource small jobs and tasks to others in your neighborhood. Didn't you buy eggs for your pancakes? Then use TaskRabbit and someone will go and pick up those eggs and deliver them to you. This interview is from 2011.

Lessons learned
  • Leah Busque passion was computer science and mathematics. She was obsessed with efficiency - an obsession that would be useful when she founded TaskRabbit. She graduated with a degree in computer science in 2001 - right after the tech bubble had exploded.
  • While working at IBM in 2008, she realized that she didn't have any dog food at home. So she asked herself if there was a demand for a simple online service where you could order dog food, name the price you want to pay, and see if someone in the neighborhood was willing to accept the task of finding dog food. She registered the same night and would later change the name to TaskRabbit.
  • She began by building a prototype to get feedback on the idea. To finance the first 6 months of the company, she used her pension fund from IBM. She was the only employee in the beginning and coded for 12 hours each day. After 10 weeks, the website was finished. Now it needed users! She thought moms would be interested so she found a collection of them and asked if they wanted to be beta users. But someone had to perform all the tasks the moms needed. Leah Busque found these at Craigslist - and she was lucky. TaskRabbit was finished close to when credit crisis of 2008 swept in, so she could find really bright people who needed the money.
  • Leah Busque recommended to always start a company with a co-founder to easier handle the ups and downs that will happen as you try to grow your company.

More articles in the same series: Lessons learned from the Foundation interviews