Let’s face it — we’ve all wanted to farm tasks onto someone else when we didn’t have the time or the mental resources to devote to them, but some things are too sensitive or too peculiar to trust to just anyone. As it happens, a stealthy Tulsa, OK-based startup called Luxury Envoy wants to handle those more exotic tasks when you can’t, and soon all you’ll have to do is ask.
I’ll admit, the service (which has been in private beta for the past few months) doesn’t sound all that novel at first — after all, startups like Exec and TaskRabbit have been tapping the bored and underemployed to act as faux personal assistants for some time now. Where Luxury Envoy differs is the scope of what its specially-culled, well-connected staff (the titular “envoys”) can fulfill. TaskRabbit may be great when you need someone to pick up your dry cleaning on Thursday, but the poor sap you ask to plan you a unique vacation in the South Seas on a $10,000 budget probably wouldn’t fare so well.
But let’s back up for a moment. The first seeds of what would become Luxury Envoy took root in founder Brent Lollis while he was running another company, a membership-only service called CEO Collective that specializes in finding unique items and offering “once-in-a-lifetime experiences” for high-level executive types. Lollis and his colleagues did so by building relationships with luxury brands and tour operators, and offering those curated packages to the service’s clients.
“The bulk of what we’ve done for them is get to know them and what they like,” Lollis told me. “If they don’t have the time or inclination to do something, we’re in a good position to handle it for them.”
About six months ago though, Lollis was struck with a curious notion — people other than executives with fat wallets could find value in this service too. Despite what the venture’s name may suggest, Lollis was adamant that Luxury Envoy isn’t just meant for the well off. “CEO Collective focuses on the luxury stuff,” Lollis said. “But Luxury Envoy can really be about anything.”
With the shift in audience also comes a shift in the business model. Unlike its sister CEO Collective, Luxury Envoy completely axes the membership model, so any user can submit a “mission” without having to pay a thing upfront. Money only changes hands when a user and the Envoy tasked with their mission come together and say “hey, this will work.” From there, Luxury Envoy takes a cut of the product’s markup, though users can also pay LE extra to expedite the execution of their mission.
Intrigued, I took the service for a spin with probably one of the dorkiest missions I could come up with. My objective: to find a new-in-box copy of the Sakura Taisen Complete Box, an extravagant collection of four steampunk dating sim/turn-based strategy games released only in Japan for the Sega Dreamcast in 2002. About half an hour after submitting my request (with my budget set to “under $1,000,” the lowest setting), an Envoy named Darrell emailed me to confirm that was what I really wanted.
Less than an hour later, I got another email from Darrell expressing a little confusion at my choice of mission (“Most of our missions related to collectible games involve rare board games, unique chess sets, etc…”), but revealed that one of the service’s partners was able to locate the box set in question. After a false start with a $700 copy somewhere in Hong Kong, Darrell managed to track down much less expensive copy in the U.S. The grand total? $485, plus $25 in shipping charges.
Whether or not the games seem worth it is questionable (full disclosure: I actually already own a copy of the box set), but it speaks to the lengths that the service’s Envoys are capable (and willing) to go to. So far, the other requests submitted to Luxury Envoy really run the gamut. The vacation example I used above was an actual request (one that ultimately involved a yacht, and a cycling day trip), and someone has asked for help finding a particular watch for $500. Lollis said that the service’s team of Envoys would do their damnedest to complete any mission given to them, so long as they are both legal and not morally questionable. Talk about shutting out a lucrative market.
Interested in checking it out for yourself? In the event you’ve got a mission of your own that needs some dealing with, feel free to mosey over to the Luxury Envoy website and use the code “prelaunchmission” to have a look around.