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Swizec Teller - a geek with a hatswizec.com

Steal my startup idea: Rent-a-mum

Delegate everything not worth your time.

~ The Internet

Grocery Store #1
Grocery Store #1

The other day I was chatting with some friends about life in general over some tea. A topic that kept resurfacing was how everybody is getting too old to live with their parents these days and that one of the big issues keeping us back is, essentially, that we are spoiled.

Nobody wants to deal with the mundane things in life - that stuff your mum takes care of, so you can study/work/live in peace without going hungry or naked.

There is a business in there. Somebody needs to start it Now!

The what

What I'm proposing is a mom-like service. Something that:

  • reminds me to buy groceries
  • delivers groceries to my doorstep
  • reminds me to clean the apartment
  • preferably cleans the apartment for me
  • washes my clothes
  • reminds me to buy new clothes
  • delivers mundane clothes to my doorstep (underwear, socks, etc.)
  • delivers shampoo, razor blades, etc.
  • pays my bills, or at least reminds me to do so
  • reminds me to take a haircut
  • cooks my food or at least reminds me to eat
  • other things I don't even know I need yet

Traditionally only men had this problem - they solved it by getting married or having a serious girlfriend. But more and more women are facing this problem as well.

Life is hectic and who hasn't worked on something cool all day, only to realize you haven't eaten in hours, you're kind of hungry, the fridge is empty and all the stores are closed already?

The opportunity

A spoiled brat
A spoiled brat

Generation Y or Millenial Generation, whatever you want to call us, is generally known as "those spoiled brats". We are the first generation to grow up with a globally connected world, where everything is instantly available. Ever since we were about 10 years old we have taken things for granted.

Want to eat tropical fruit when it's -20C outside? You got it.

Want to know what's happening 10,000km away? Just ask one of your friends from Australia.

Combine this with being the first generations where it's become unacceptable to "discipline" your child and you are left with a bunch of humans with an insane sense of entitlement. We want it, we want it all. And we're willing to do next to nothing to get it.

This generation is now growing up.

We are reaching the second half of our 20's and it's time to branch out and live on our own ... but we have no idea how. And we don't really want to either. We want to continue with our cushy lifestyles.

Here's the cool thing - we don't care so much about money, as we do about "doing something that makes you happy". This means we'd gladly fork over perfectly useful money, just to have more time in the day to do the stuff we care about.

The competition

Manpacks

There is a lot of competition in this space ... sort of.

A bunch of services exist, everything from dog walking to house cleaning and grocery deliveries. But:

  • all of these services suck at marketing
  • everything is fragmented
  • you have to do a lot of management to use them

I know of only two startups that have gotten around to solving my problem in a good way. Manpacks.com will deliver fresh underwear, socks, shaving products etc. every three months. This is awesome.

There's also a service in Silicon Valley, whose name eludes me right now, that will deliver fresh food to your startup every day so you can focus on what really matters - your fucking startup.

How to get started

Considering the competition out there and the very localized nature of some of these tasks starting may seem difficult. I propose an embrace-and-extinguish strategy.

The startup can be positioned as a consolidation service. You create some sort of website where people sign up for the service and choose which particular tasks they would want to delegate. They give you the money. (different packages, prices, etc.)

Behind the scenes, you keep a list of local businesses that do particular services like cleaning, or grocery delivery ... whatever. These businesses are hired by you and sent on site when need be. You also ensure a standard of quality by doing proper customer service and checking back with everyone.

The small businesses can focus on their core product and you essentially take care of their marketing and customer relations. The customer, doesn't have to keep tabs on every small business, they can be billed monthly via credit card and you send them friendly reminders on what's going on - you take a load off their mind.

A win-win-win situation is created where everybody benefits.

How to win

While being a consolidation service is a good way to start, you will eventually want to bring everything under your own umbrella. This can be achieved by looking at where your biggest markets are and starting to build a ground crew of your own.

Having your own ground crew helps because you aren't dependent on other companies for your own success, you can keep better control over service quality and I'm guessing it's simply an easier situation to work with.

You can keep using external businesses where the market isn't big enough to warrant building your own presence.

Dangers

The biggest danger for this idea is that a lot of people coming out of college these days simply aren't looking towards lives of high paychecks. The job market for new grads, I hear, is quite tough and "luxury" services such as this one are usually the first to go when people are running tight on money.

The ones that do get jobs, get very very busy jobs though.

There's also the difficulty inherent in business development. Getting all those partners on board at the beginning might be tough - you can mitigate this by focusing on a single large city at first.

Another danger is getting the marketing right. Just having an online presence, while a lot, won't be enough. You'd need some sort of very engaging social media strategy.

Since I've only given this an hour or two of thought, there are likely dangers I can't think of right now.

Why I'm not doing this

If I think this is such a good idea ... why am I posting it up here for everyone to steal?

Two reasons:

  1. I really really want to pay for this service
  2. I'm not very good at biz dev and this idea hinges mostly on that

So, what am I missing? Why doesn't something like this exist yet?

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Published on May 4th, 2012 in Business, Business and Economy, Customer service, Entrepreneur, Silicon Valley, Small Business, Start Up, Startup company, Uncategorized

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