Leah Busque, Draper University, Spring 2019
“It’s our job as entrepreneurs to believe that every connection, every moment, has the potential to lead to something great,” said Leah Busque, General Partner at Fuel Capital and founder of TaskRabbit. Leah came to Draper University and shared her insights and lessons learned as a female, solo-founder and now an investor.
Lesson 1 — Ideas are everywhere
“A great idea is not an invention, it’s a discovery.”
While working as a software engineer at IBM, Leah became obsessed with the idea for a new errand service which eventually became Task Rabbit. She bought the domain RunMyErrand.com for $6.99 on GoDaddy and built an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). She mentioned,“I didn’t invent TaskRabbit — I discovered it” and to really be in an entrepreneurial mindset for discovery. Other people would say to her that they “had the same exact idea,” but what did they do with it? There is a difference between having an idea and being entrepreneurial to look at something and say, “How can I solve this very simple problem?”
Lesson 2 — Tell everyone you know (and don’t know)
“It’s so much harder to actually execute than it is just to discover a new idea.”
This was surprising for some fellow entrepreneurs to hear because they think that sharing ideas will lead to the idea getting replicated. Some first-time entrepreneurs believe that they should keep their ideas to themselves. Leah encourages otherwise: “spread ideas wildly.” Leah talked to anyone who would listen to her and made connections through many nights and dinners. Leah also gave advice to:
Test concepts with real users
She took many risks and turned a $700 plane ticket for a 15-minute meeting with Tim Ferriss into an advisory relationship that eventually turned into financing. She took a lot of risks and networked her way in, which lead to $1 million in seed funding. “It’s our job as entrepreneurs to believe that every connection, every moment, has the potential to lead to something great.”
Lesson 3 — BHAGs (Big Harry Audacious Goals)
BHAGs are Big Harry Audacious Goals, like the wild things from Where the Wild Things Are. Not everyone is ambitious. It is good to have BHAGs. One of their BHAGs was, “What if President Obama used Task Rabbit?” Leah eventually found herself meeting with White House officials to talk about Task Rabbit and its usage after emergencies and natural disasters and can consider that a win. Her message was to also focus on, “What can I do in the next 24 hours to move my business forward?”
Lesson 4 — The entrepreneur inside
Done is better than perfect.
You have to work as an entrepreneur to Test, Measure, Improve, and Iterate. Leah also advised to “Boldly leap to new peaks.” Task Rabbit scrapped their codebase in 2013 and launched into a new mobile product in London. The pivot involved going from a bidding system to an instant real-time booking system and re-training and activating 60,000 taskers on the new platform. The pivot was in the end the right move for the company, albeit with growing pains.
Lesson 5 — Winners don’t win, they succeed
“Success is the ultimate goal.”
Success is comprised of results, purpose, impact and values versus just winning. If people are going to game the system, winning is not sustainable. “You can succeed without winning. You can win, but not succeed.”
As females and first-time entrepreneurs, we were delighted to have met Leah as she showed us that hard work, confidence and creativity can tear down any barriers to entry into the startup world. Thank you, Leah, for sharing with us how to be successful as a leader and entrepreneur with big ideas and big goals and being bold and taking risks so that we can all aim for success as the ultimate goal.