Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chowda Chat | Leah Busque

Chowda Chat is a periodic Beantown Web installment that features a conversation with an influential member of the Boston technology community.

The purpose of Chowda Chat is to provide Web technology professionals with information to help advance their careers. The format involves three questions and responses followed by one final thought.

Today's Chowda Chat presents the insights of Leah Busque, Founder, RUNmyERRAND.com, a Web service that helps individuals and small businesses in a community outsource their tasks and deliveries. Think of it as Craigslist meets eBay. They are pioneering a trend that they call Service Networking.

Leah, you were a software engineer for IBM for seven years. Why give up the fast track to start your own business and what were some of the first steps you took?

"I felt I had more to offer than just technical skills. By starting my own business I could not only utilize my technical expertise, I could also develop skills in the business, legal and management arenas. I basically locked myself in a room for four months and developed a working prototype for my idea. Along the way I networked with anyone who would listen and give me feedback about my concept.
My Board of Advisors became the following:
Facebook Fund
With their guidance I launched a beta version of the service in Charlestown (MA). I have since expanded the RUNmyERRAND crew and extended the service to the greater Boston community. We are over-the-moon excited about being a finalist for the fbFund '09 Incubator Program established by Facebook. Additional funding will help us introduce our service in other metropolitan areas."
[Update: RUNmyERRAND.com has been selected as one of 20 final winners and will participate in the fbFund REV incubator program to take place in Silicon Valley this summer.]

What technology runs your Web operations?

Ruby on Rails
"I researched several options and decided to implement Ruby on Rails because of its rapid development features. While I didn't know the technology when I started I felt confident from my training at IBM that I could learn it quickly. I started with O'Reilly's ONLamp tutorials and Rails Cookbook. Our Web operations also utilize Amazon Web Services to manage our expanding data needs."
[NOTE: Additional resources include 31 Fascinating Ruby on Rails Tutorials & Guides.]

How can someone get started with RUNmyERRAND.com?

Facebook Fan
It's simple, first check out the How it works in 90 seconds video, then click the Get Started button! Sign up before the end of May and your first errand is better than FREE, it is on us! And, make sure you become a fan of our service on Facebook.

Final Thought

"There are a lot of great ideas out there, the difficult part is taking the leap and deciding to execute on them. There was a very clear moment for me where I thought to myself, there is absolutely no reason why I can not do this, so why not give it a try. I've enjoyed meeting many other entrepreneurs with the same mentality, which makes for an exciting startup scene here in Boston!"

Update: Bloomberg BusinessWeek article, November 11, 2010.

Previous Chowda Chats

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