R.I.P. Lazy Times: Exec Shuts Down Errand Service But Keeps Cleaning

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You’re going to have to do that chore yourself, because the venture capitalist won’t pay for it anymore. Exec couldn’t find a way to scale its “Errands” on-demand personal assistant service beyond San Francisco, so it’s emailed customers saying it would “sadly” be folding “Errands”. Exec’s home cleaning service will remain open in nine cities, though.

It’s extraordinarily late in San Francisco, so I imagine we’ll have to wait until morning for more details on why Errands went pear-shaped.

[Update: Exec founder Justin Kan confirmed the end of Errands, telling us "We shut down Exec Errands to focus on our cleaning business...While I personally really enjoyed Errands, we haven't been able to figure out a great way to scale it beyond SF, but through the process of creating errands we were able to figure out some things people wanted (one major of which was cleaning) and then take the best aspects of errands and apply them to our new business. In the future, we'd like to add other verticals back to Exec, one at a time."]

Exec came out the Winter 2012 Y Combinator class, led by Justin.tv and SocialCam founder Justin Kan. Soon Exec raised $3.3 million. It’s plan was to build an app that let you type in a task or chore, and have it done as soon as possible by a temporary personal assistant for $25 an hour.

iphone-errands-app-1The Execs would show up in jazzy black track jackets and cordially do whatever you ask. I once had an Exec move my car to avoid parking tickets when I suddenly went out of town, and they saved me a ton. I’ve seen friends successfully use Execs as dog-walkers, bartenders, and urban sherpas.

Alas, venture capital can’t finance our comfort indefinitely. It seems the service was losing money, and had to resort to hiking rates to $30 an hour and a 10% surcharge (up from 3%) to earn any margin.

One thing that was booming was the demand for cleaning services. It made up over 50% of orders, 90% to 95% of total hours worked by Execs, and was back-breaking labor for the all-purpose temps trained by Kan’s company. So the startup launched a standalone cleaning service and app that contracts experienced local cleaners. The price for the cleaning service is much steeper, currently $89 for a basic one bedroom and one bathroom job.

Cleaning worked and Errands didn’t so Exec will shut down the insta-butler service on September 20th and any jobs already booked for after then will be canceled. The cleaning app will live on, tidying up in San Francisco, Palo Alto, San Jose, San Diego, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, and New York City.

I’ve reached out to Kan, but there’s no details on Exec’s blog or Twitter account about the shut down — just the email, which I’ve pasted below. Exec has scrubbed all mentions of its errands app from its website, though you can still see the remnants on its mobile site. I’ll look to do a more complete Exec Errands autopsy tomorrow after I’ve heard from the company.

drycleaning

One of the perks of living in San Francisco is you get to live in a venture capital-subsidized biome of services that aren’t actually financially viable to operate. But eventually, businesses have to pivot out of failed dreams and into cold, hard reality. Simply making it easier to book house cleaners is a lot less exciting than a “my wish is your command” app.

Exec Shut Down