How do a founder and a funder take an idea and build a pioneering company? Before there was Uber or Airbnb, TaskRabbit helped birth the sharing economy. Leah Busque’s entrepreneurial fire has taken her from IBM software engineer to founder of TaskRabbit to venture capitalist. Ann Miura-Ko is a star early-stage funder, advisor, and mentor who has fueled the growth of disruptive firms. Their partnership propelled TaskRabbit from early concept and pivoting to scaling in 40 markets before it was acquired by IKEA in 2017.
Venture capitalist Ann Miura-Ko of Floodgate and Leah Busque, founder of TaskRabbit and general partner at Fuel Capital, speak with the CHM Exponential Center’s Marguerite Gong Hancock about pursuing audacious goals, igniting high impact teams, scaling companies, facing dark moments, creating productive partnerships, and hacking value.
This guide introduces provocative questions for reflection and conversation to enhance and extend what you learn through watching the video. It is suitable for mature high school students and college and adult learners in an educational, professional, or social setting. It may be particularly interesting for people who are curious about innovation, entrepreneurship, and the start-up ecosystem of Silicon Valley. Consider the discussion questions below or download a PDF of the Discussion Guide.
Leah Busque’s introduction to computers came through her boyfriend’s deep interest. But she always loved math and STEM subjects and wanted to pursue them in college.
How did Leah’s educational and early work experiences prepare her for tech entrepreneurship whether she knew it or not?
Leah sees coding as a way to express her creativity. Can you relate to that? What areas of your life allow you to explore your creative ideas?
The idea for TaskRabbit came when Leah ran out of dog food on a cold winter night in Boston. She thought it would be great if there was a way to go online to find a neighbor willing to pick some up.
Leah had never left the East Coast, but her commitment to her idea got her out to the West Coast in search of funding.
Ann pursued a technical PhD program at Stanford, planning to become a tech entrepreneur. But while shadowing an angel investor when looking for funding for her business, she became interested in venture capital.
Ann says she wanted to invest in TaskRabbit because, “when you know, you just kind of know.” And Leah says they “clicked.”
Ann’s focus on metrics, analytical skills and fiscal responsibility, when combined with Leah’s storytelling ability, created a strong foundation for TaskRabbit.
Leah pursues goals that are so big they are embarrassing to share, and she brought that commitment to TaskRabbit while also leading the company to grow.
When TaskRabbit pivoted to a new platform, it was messy, scary, and controversial. Testing it in London first seemed like a mistake to some but it turned out the real problem was the legacy customer and Tasker base that didn’t want to change.