New start ups help you get your chores done!

Create your own posse of gofers

Gossip girl posse

Via alacoolk, flickr

By: Samadrita Guin, Staff Writer

Too lazy to walk your dog? Too busy to visit your grandma in the hospital? Want to experience Blair Waldorf’s life for a day? Well there’s an app for that! A growing number of start-up companies have come up with customized apps that can help you get your daily chores done, if you are willing to pay for them.

Some of these start-ups, including TaskRabbit, Agent Anything and Zaarly, help you find your own team of personal assistants, by spontaneously tapping people in your neighbourhood to perform errands. Past taskmasters, using these services, have paid so-called “gofers” (or the people who volunteer to be your minions) $200 to wait in line for the latest iPhone release and up to $60 to set up their home furniture. A man in Texas paid someone $100 to have a cheeseburger delivered to his house in the middle of the night. 

Co-founder of Zaarly.com, Bo Fishback, explains the rationale behind such a service, “It’s regular people helping regular people.” This start-up company of 10 employees was launched in March 2011 and had actor Ashton Kutcher as one of the investors. To use Zaarly, clients post their locations, proposed tasks, and the amount they’re willing to pay. These tasks appear on a map accessible by participants in the neighbourhood and those willing to respond to the ad set up a face-to-face meeting with the client. Zaarly charges a transaction fee of 9.9% for facilitating the trade.

It connects individual buyers and sellers of services over the phone as a third party. Its current usage is concentrated around Boston, Chicago, Los Angles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC. By taking advantage of the rise of mobile apps, GPS technology and social networking, Zaarly has become one the most on-demand errand services. 


One of the main concerns from critics and city officials is the ability of these start-ups to pave way for crimes.


A similar service, Agent Anything, enlists students at Columbia University and New York University to perform tasks for New-Yorkers. Another service, AirRun, is a smartphone app that connects fetchers and seekers across the country. Israeli start-up, Fiverr.com, allows users to post what they will do for $50, whether it is prank-calling your colleague or to yell at your friends. 

One of the main concerns from critics and city officials is the ability of these start-ups to pave way for crimes. The safety of such peer-to-peer networks is in question, with critics pointing to pattern of crimes bolstered by Craigslist. Start-up executives, on the other hand, see the biggest challenge as being getting a balance of users on both sides of the equation – the pool of seekers and fetchers – to make their services attractive. 

Although no figures have been obtained about the revenue streams of these start-ups, they seem to be running profitable operations, either making money through the peer-to-peer transaction fees or through embedded advertisements. However, with competition rising, the market only allows for three to turn out successful, as mentioned by Jake Wengroff, Social Media Research Director at Frost & Sullivan. Moreover, if users create personal connections and work together after their initial meetings, the revenue stream might diminish. 

The growing numbers of these services reflects the fact that many people like to pay for convenience. And although this idea has been around for years, it is the accessibility of it, bolstered by technology and social media that make it feasible.

ARB Team
Arbitrage Magazine
Business News with BITE.

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