Concierge Service for the Masses

Get a college student to run all your errands. (Photo: Brand X Pictures)

While the rich and famous can have subscriptions to concierge services (such as the famed Quintessentially) to plan a vacation or book opera tickets, a recent Princeton grad is trying to bring such amenities to the masses. Harry Schiff, class of 2010, has started an online market for errands. He says he was sitting around craving a sandwich when the idea for Agent Anything happened:

The idea itself came from standard college laziness … I had the remote firmly in hand, but was sorely short of a sandwich. The University Store was only about 50 yards from my dorm, but that morning I had watched Al Pacino’s “Inches” speech (from Any Given Sunday) twice before getting up the pluck to put on a pair of pants, so walking half a football field was clearly not in the cards. As is well known, though, laziness often leads to a considerable amount of thought and work so long as the effort is focused on getting around the task that needs to be accomplished. So, I began to ponder a way out of my predicament.

I thought about this a little more — okay, nobody was going to do anything for $1-2, it’s just not enough money, even if it was on their way. But what if my roommates were home and we each put a buck or two in … someone would totally do it for $5-10 bucks. In fact, if it was on my way, I would definitely do something like that for $5-10 bucks.

Agent Anything is part matching and part auction; it sets up “agents” with “missions,” with the price for each task set by the buyer. The missions range from delivering food to assembling IKEA furniture to doing manual labor like data entry. The other night, my roommate had some Ben & Jerry’s delivered at his right price. He even gave a tip.

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  1. Er says:

    Eureka! The solution to the Great Divide is to simply make it easier for the lazy fat cats to throw pennies at the rest of us to run their errands. Trickle Down!!

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    • Harry says:

      That is precisely what Agent Anything is NOT about. This is not some concierge service for the ultra-wealthy; Agent Anything makes these kind of services available to regular people at a reasonable price.

      You can save money on moving by hiring a few students with a pickup truck for $10/hour. Small businesses hire groups of Agents to hand out flyers on the streets. Aspiring entrepreneurs hire MBA students to review their business plans. Couples hire cooking students to prepare romantic dinners. Busy moms can pay $10-15 to have their errands run while they stay home with the baby.

      And all the while, these people are helping out hard-working students in their own communities. Remember, university students really need this money, they really need work that they can do in their spare time instead of being stuck to part-time jobs whose rigid schedules can make it tough to work around exams, big papers, sports games, student group meetings, etc.

      This isn’t some “trickle-down” set-up: it’s the free market at its best. Clients set prices or take offers. Agents only take on Missions at prices they have accepted or offered themselves. It’s win-win by definition. That’s how we want it.

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  2. Dan says:

    Data entry passes for manual labor these days?

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  3. Xianhang Zhang says:

    How is this different from Taskrabbit: http://www.taskrabbit.com/

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    • Harry says:

      We’re very similar. They started in Boston about a year before we started in New York and have a different process for approving their “Rabbits.” For us, only current students are allowed to be Agents. This keeps the price in a good range, ensures that schedules will be flexible and gets money to people who need it. I’m sure their way is good too. You’ll find other differences in features and functionality, but I think we’re both heading in broadly the same direction.

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