Startup Errand wants to make life easier by doing your running around

A group of BYU students working to identify a business idea decided to survey families to find out what their biggest pain point was.

What they found, which would come as no surprise to any parent, was that one of the main problems was the time spent collectively transporting children to school, lessons, sports practices, and various other activities.

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The formidable legal hurdles and daunting liability issues that accompany any attempt to commercialize a baby taxi service were soon realized, leading budding entrepreneurs to a different but nearby idea.

What about a business that can take care of all the non-school kids around and free up families to take on more stressful parenting responsibilities?

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It turned out that the answer was in the question and in January 2022 Errand was born.

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Claire Larsen, co-owner of Errand, in American Fork on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. She and her husband launched a startup that aims to be the DoorDash/Grubhub of errands.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Getting started

The founder of Errand, Claire Larsen, said that the company was launched with simple technology, just a website where you can place a request for an assignment, specify the locations of delivery and delivery, and when you need it. The remainder of the process was largely manual and conducted in a small service area.

This approach was part of a very deliberate plan to pull the trigger on the more common technology startup process of fundraising from an idea that would later be tested for implementation. The run-first approach, Larsen said, allowed him and the other co-founders to approach potential investors with a proven concept instead of an untested business plan.

“We knew we needed funding to build a program, but we recognized that we were a group of students with no business experience or background,” Larsen said. “We’ve completed over 3,000 assignments for people using guerilla marketing tactics and spending only our own money.”

The idea and the approach to get them started for a group of investors who participated in a pre-seed round of venture capital funding for the company, which closed in October and raised about $700,000.

Just two months later, in early December, Errand launched its smartphone app. Now, the business operates out of Wasatch and plans to expand statewide and soon into neighboring states.

Larsen said Errand has found success on both sides of its business model, attracting customers who need an easy and affordable way to check off their to-do lists and gig economy drivers who sign up in bulk to complete those tasks.

“When the program was launched, we just wanted to move existing customers to another location,” Larsen said. “But within the first week, we tripled our goal and signed up nearly 6,000 drivers.”

This immediate response on the driver side of the equation has probably been helped by a great economy that has seen an increase in interest and the number of people working on flexible, short-term contracts in the past few years.

In a recent report, Fortune noted that the number of gig workers in the US has risen from 55 million in 2020 to a record 60 million today, according to a recent study by freelance recruiting site Upwork. According to the study, nearly 40% of the U.S. workforce did contract work last year, adding about $1.35 trillion to the economy.

On the client side of Errand’s business model, a growing number of consumers are finding new comfort with app services thanks to the proliferation of companies like GrubHub, DoorDash, TaskRabbit, and even ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft.

Many ideas fail. Few people find success

Corbin Church, an adjunct professor at BYU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, served as an advisor and supporter to Errand’s founders, and noted the company’s business model and launch timeline hit all the right marks.

Church said he interacts with many budding entrepreneurs and teaches about 350 students each semester and sees many business ideas. However, he noted that the people behind the concepts are the most important factor.

“I work with a lot of kids who are starting a lot of businesses,” Church said. “Many ideas fail and some succeed. It turns out that more important than the idea is the founder behind it.

“Whenever these great visionary founders come together with the right opportunity, I think Errand has found that magic.”

Errand aims to have a unique niche in the gig economy, eschewing niche niches occupied by companies like DoorDash or GrubHub and instead taking an all-inclusive approach, Church said.

“Child comes to it with a broad approach and an idea that’s really about making people more productive,” Church said. “It’s the right kind of generic, the same service and value whether the customer is a busy parent or a busy manager in a work environment.”

Church likes all of Errand’s potential verticals, noting that he can see the service being useful for a wide range of individual and business needs.

“Say you’re in the construction industry and you run out of some important construction supplies on the job,” Church said. “A company can send someone to Home Depot and pay them to do a job that takes at least an hour. Or, they can order something from Home Depot’s website, schedule a pickup truck, and then send an Errand driver, to do it for less than $10. It’s smart and economical.”

Errand’s internal economics also make sense, Larsen said, and the company has been profitable from the start.

How does it work?

Customers pay $7.99 for pickup and drop-off within a six-mile radius, a distance that Larsen said was determined by their early operations, where 90 percent of their trips fall within that mile.

Need to go a little further? Errand is charged an additional 85 cents per mile outside of its base area. On the driver’s side, runners are paid by both distance and time and can average $25 to $30 an hour, according to Larsen. Additionally, he said Errand drivers receive twice as many tips as Uber or DoorDash drivers.

While the Errand can’t transport your kids or other people, it can run almost any standard errand, including collecting your dry cleaning, delivering donations to DI, or even light shopping or taking orders from customers at favorite restaurants.

Larsen said Errand is pushing the prices of popular food delivery services and doing it with a model that doesn’t charge local businesses for its services thanks to the startup’s customer-paying system.

Errand can even get you out of tough traffic jams.

Larsen said one customer found himself at the airport last month, but before they were due to travel abroad, he realized they had left their passports at home. The Errand driver is able to travel to the customer’s home, collect the passport and deliver it to the passenger in time to complete their flight.

“Of course, not all of our trips are like this,” Larsen said. “But with every visit we save our customers time and make their lives easier.”

To learn more about Errand and how to get the app, visit goerrand.com.



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