GoButler isn’t the first company to promise to get you anything you want with a text — as long as it’s legal.
If the idea of a text-based concierge service sounds familiar, that’s because US company Magic also promises to place orders and schedule deliveries on your behalf.
But GoButler is different because the service is free to use. Here’s how it’s supposed to work: First you text GoButler with a request, which is picked up by one of is employees, known as “Heroes.” They will then scour the internet for you to get the best price or date for a plane ticket, or get something delivered on your behalf. GoButler has operators who work around the clock, so you can use the service at any time of day (though the service might be limited based on how many stores are open).
It stores your payment details too, so you don’t have to enter them every time you order something.
GoButler just came out of beta and launched officially in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, US, and Canada. The company was launched in Berlin in February by several Rocket Internet alumni.
With GoButler, you only pay for whatever it is you’re buying or ordering. Magic, on the other hand, charges a fee on top of the cost of the products or services you’re requesting, essentially acting as a middleman for services like Instacart or Seamless that are already acting as a middleman.
But GoButler founder Navid Hadzaad thinks that his company will eventually be able to make money through affiliate relationships with on-demand apps themselves, as well as retailers and other service providers.
“I think that these apps will become more and more like commodities over time,” Hadzaad told Business Insider. “Consumers don’t have the mind space to think of 50 different apps at once, and keep what they’re for in your brain. Even if you have it on your phone you just forget about it.”
“And in the next six to 12 months the market will realise that there is going to be value in the player funnelling the demand,” he added.
Whether this happens or not depends entirely on whether GoButler can convince people to text for what they want rather than using a specific app, booking online, or just making a phone call themselves. It also needs to work as advertised.
While my “Hero” was nice and attentive, they weren’t able to deliver anything I asked for, including my request for Cheetos:
But Nadzaad believes that company will be able to keep people coming back by nailing down their preferences.
“If you order flowers for £200 you’re not going to want pizza from the cheapest place,” he said. “And if you want a restaurant reservation at Nobu and then want to fly from London to New York, you aren’t going to want to travel with easyJet.”
“The plan is similar to Google in a way,” he added. “But Google uses that information to serve you ads and make your online experience more relevant. We’re going to use that your preferences to make your real life better.”
So at some point, GoButler is going to start suggesting services for you. For example, if someone asks GoButler to bring home their dry cleaning, it could suggest that next time it could send someone to pick their laundry up from their house also, using a laundry service like Washio or Laundrapp. Hadzaad hopes that these services will pay GoButler to promote them in this way.
The company doesn’t have its monetisation plans ironed out yet, and they all depend on whether people decide that it’s easier to use GoButler than individual apps and booking sites. Nadzaad says the company’s 100,00 users are active users rather than just those who have registered with the service. He did admit that the app has different user types, but said that “core” users use it several times a week.
He says that the company’s 120-strong team of “Heroes” deal with thousands of requests a day. But Hadzaad doesn’t plan to hire thousands of “Heroes” to meet demand. The company plans to scale by integrating more intelligent systems that can automatically fill requests.
“We’re building intelligent algorithms that allow us to automate more and more of the requests over time as we learn our users’ preferences and needs,” he explained. “The vision is to have a brand that funnels demand cross verticals, and a product that is largely automating requests end-to-end. We’re not planning to build-out a huge call centre.”
For now, Hadzaad says the company is planning to stick with the six markets it is already active in, and try and get more users. While he thinks that text messaging is an easy way to get people on board, he did say that the company plans to launch an app eventually.
The company recently raised $US8 million (£5.1 million) Series A round led by General Catalyst Partners. Lakestar, Rocket Internet’s Global Founders Capital, Slow Ventures, BoxGroup, Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures, and Cherry Ventures also took part.
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