42. Leah Busque

Founder of TaskRabbit, How To Market To Women Without Losing Men

Whenever TaskRabbit got press, lots of young, professional men signed up. But regular users of the site--which connects members with people willing to do their chores for a small fee--were women. So Leah Busque has been revamping the site to strike a balance: Cater to women but continue to court men.

See real people

To make the service feel less abstract and more trustworthy, women needed to see photos of actual job-doers. When photos were posted, sign-ups doubled almost immediately.

Focus on solutions

The Post-it Notes stressed out women who were already stretched thin. "We realized we were basically yelling in people's faces--you have laundry to do!" Busque says. "So we made it more serene."

Test your changes

The site added flourished handwriting to appeal to women, but surveys found it turned off guys. "We skewed too fun and fluffy," she says. "We quickly pulled back."

Speak in color

The switch from dark cork to light sunburst aimed to communicate hope and optimism. It was an emotional cue for women, Busque says, but not so directed that it would turn off men.

Timeline

  • 2001

    Graduates from Sweet Briar College

  • 2001

    Starts work as software engineer at IBM

  • 2001

    Marries Kevin Busque

  • 2008

    Conceives RunMyErrand, the first concept for TaskRabbit

  • 2008

    Leaves IBM to focus on TaskRabbit full time

  • 2009

    Accepted into Facebook's incubator program, fbFund

  • 2009

    Raises first round of seed funding for RunMyErrand

  • 2010

    Rebrands RunMyErrand as TaskRabbit

  • 2011

    Raises $5 million in Series A funding round

  • 2011

    TaskRabbit launches iPhone app

  • 2011

    Raises $17.8 million in Series B funding round

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