Done: Like TaskRabbit, With a Cause
In recent years, the growing trend of task-attacking start-ups, like TaskRabbit, Zaarly and GigWalk, show that we could all use a little help “getting things done” — and that we are willing to rely on virtual strangers acting as temporary workers to help us run our errands.
Just yesterday, Justin Kan, the co-founder of Justin.tv, launched Exec, an iPhone app that helps people complete tasks on demand.
Now there’s another entrant in the space: Done, which employs local “Doers” and experts in certain fields to help people get things done — with a charitable twist.
The site launches in New York today, and features around 100 New Yorkers who specialize in certain areas or tasks. Done verifies its Doers through in-person interviews as well as background checks, aided by HireRight. Since Doers have to sign into Done through Facebook, they’re also Facebook-checked, and have to be endorsed by at least two friends or contacts. There’s also a section on the site for hirers to review the Doers.
For now, it’s a Web-only service, and only in New York at the start. But mobile applications — and more cities — are on Done’s road map, co-founder and CEO Kevin Nazemi says.
“We think the neighbor-to-neighbor trend is where e-commerce was in 1995: It’s just getting started,” Nazemi says. “There are players out there who have already started, but it’s not always the company who announces first or gets the resources first that ends up winning.”
Nazemi says Done is different from other services because it focuses on personalization: The Doer’s identities are front and center on the site, with big, slick photos and detailed profiles, so users feel like they’re hiring a real person and not just a temporary worker. (Nazemi does concede that as the service grows, Done likely won’t be able to conduct in-person interviews with every Doer. TaskRabbit, for example, uses videoconferencing as part of its multistep process to vet its thousands of Rabbits). By offering “experts” in certain areas, Done hopes to nab repeat customers in addition to people just looking to get a task completed.
Done also says it takes a 10 percent cut of every transaction made through the site, paid by the Doer; TaskRabbit has said that its average service fee is 15 percent.
And then there’s charitable-giving element to Done, which Nazemi stresses was important to him and his co-founders when they were creating the service. Every time a transaction occurs through Done, the company completes one of three tasks through UNICEF: Delivering clean water, buying school supplies or providing a vaccine for polio. Right now, the company is only working with UNICEF, but says it plans to add more charities to its list.
Done was launched by former MIT roommates Nazemi, Paul Covell and Ken Nesmith. The start-up’s initial seed investment of $1 million comes from Khosla Ventures, Thrive Capital, and other individual investors, including Harvard Business School professors Bill Sahlman and Joseph Bower.