By Deborah Findling, with Jon Fortt
You've probably heard of TaskRabbit – the online service lets you pay a contractor to run an errand, clean an apartment, put together an Ikea bookshelf – any number of odd jobs. Before there was Uber or Airbnb, TaskRabbit birthed the so-called "gig economy."
You might not know that Kevin Busque co-founded TaskRabbit with his wife, Leah, who he is quick to admit was the brains behind the operation all along.
In an unusual twist on the typical Silicon Valley story, Kevin and Leah were high school sweethearts, married right after college. They worked at the same company more than once, bootstrapped a business together, and eventually moved across the country to realize the Silicon Valley dream. Leah served as CEO of TaskRabbit for years, and is now executive chairman. Kevin recently launched a new venture, Guideline, a 401(k) platform.
That unique background as entrepreneur, CEO spouse, and CEO gives Kevin a fresh perspective on how to make big ideas a reality. He shared that with the Fortt Knox podcast. Here are some highlights:
Provide Your Own Path
Growing up in a military family, Kevin Busque felt the pressure of money being tight. He knew early on if he wanted anything extra, like a car, he had to do it on his own.
“For me it was really about work ethic; I needed to provide my own path. That's why I started [my first] company – out of necessity,” he says. By building computers with the help of his father and his uncle, he made plenty of extra money.
Kevin has been working in tech since high school. The first company he worked for, Iris Associates, led to a job at IBM.
Get Up and Move
When it came time
for the married couple to move ... the logistics weren't easy, but the decision itself was.
Before too long, Leah had a startup idea: Run My Errand. When it came time for the married couple to move from Boston to San Francisco, the logistics weren't easy, but the decision itself was.
“For us, it was never about the outcome, it was always about the journey,” Kevin says. “That was the kicker really. Yeah, let’s go do this. If not now, when?”
He credits their ambitious nature as part of what drove them to move. Once settled in Silicon Valley, Leah took her first investment from Dave McClure's Facebook Fund. Soon after, she met entrepreneur and investor Tim Ferriss, which led to connections with more investors. This became their funding path, a lifeline for a company trying to find its legs.
Persistence Counts Double
As a co-founder and behind-the-scenes player in TaskRabbit's path to growth, Kevin put his full trust in his wife, Leah. Before the company took its first outside investment round, he signed all his stock over to Leah. The vision was hers, anyway. She would be the CEO, and he would support her.
“I think for us, you just realize that nobody knows your business better than you, even if they have better experience.” he says. “That’s what it takes to be successful in start-up. It’s about hard work.”
As he supported TaskRabbit's growth as the company's chief technology officer, Kevin realized a lot of the young employees weren't taking the time to sign up for 401(k) retirement plans, perhaps because the process was too complicated. And that's what led him to start Guideline.