GoButler, a startup with German origins which bills itself as a “personal concierge service” and allows its customers to order tasks to be completed, whether you need someone to purchase airline tickets, get the groceries, walk your dog, etc. with nothing more than a text message, may operate using an old concept, but the business has made a name for itself with spectacular growth and funding efforts in a short period of time.
The service works by allowing users to text GO to 25400 (or enter the user’s phone number) with a simple request. A “hero”, as GoButler’s trained operators are called, then responds with a proposal and the user can choose whether to accept or reject. GoButler promises that the service, which is free (users pay for the tickets, reservations, etc. and nothing on top of that) can provide anything you want, so long as it is legal.
GoButler is a good example of how the path to entrepreneurship is rarely a straight line, as the startup began as nothing more than a side project and has rapidly attained international traction, drawing the attention of some pretty big investors. The startup launched in Germany this February and, by March, had relocated to New York City, where it began a beta stage that saw it draw in more than 100,000 users and process more than 1 million requests in 6 countries. Just last week, the 6-month-old company left beta and made a splash when they announced that they have raised $8 million in a Series A from a group of investors that includes General Catalyst Partners, Lakestar, Slow Ventures, Rocket Internet’s Global Founders Capital, BoxGroup, Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures, and Cherry Ventures.
Just last month, Uber lost (temporarily, at least) its battle to be able to hire its drivers as “contractors”, as opposed to “employees”, a distinction that carries significance with regards to the benefits, pay, and rights to which these workers are entitled. But GoButler seems determined to avoid that minefield, telling me that their “heroes” are full employees. At the moment, GoButler employs 120 “heroes” in 6 countries, a group that includes the United States, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, Austria, and Switzerland.