Sweet Briar graduate and entrepreneur Leah Busque’s Internet venture TaskRabbit Inc. is the subject of a feature in the August 2011 issue of Wired magazine.
The article, TaskRabbit Turns Grunt Work Into a Game, chronicles the company’s innovative use of videogaming dynamics to foster competition and reward high-performing workers.
Sweet Briar first reported on Busque’s “service networking” company in the 2009/2010 winter magazine, shortly after she had procured $1 million from West Coast investors to expand the business. The 2001 graduate soon changed the name from RunMyErrand.com to TaskRabbit, and has presided over its phenomenal success as it spread from Boston to San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Orange County, Calif.
The company uses an online social networking model to let people and companies outsource tasks and deliveries to a pool of vetted “runners.” Part of its genius is tapping into the community to lend a helping hand when you just can’t get to something yourself — whether its assembling IKEA furniture in your home or buying your groceries. The premise is to make life easier with help from people you can trust.
Clearly Busque’s idea, which came to her spontaneously in 2008 when she ran out of dog food, was one whose time had come. Today her yellow Labrador retriever Kobe is chief inspiration officer at TaskRabbit.
She started the company in the Boston area where she was then working as a software engineer at IBM. In a terrible economy, Busque has gone from a staff of one — herself — to employing three dozen full-time engineers, managers and other professionals across the country. TaskRabbit also provides jobs to more than 2,000 independent runners. And both of those numbers are growing.
Busque graduated from Sweet Briar magna cum laude with a bachelor’s in math and computer science. She has returned several times to speak to current students about entrepreneurship —and turning a great idea into a business that improves the way we live.