Have you ever wanted something so bad, that you were willing to pay just about anything to get it?
Tapping the concierge service in a swank hotel is one way to guarantee those really good theater tickets or an impossible-to-book dinner reservation. But now the rise of personal errand and concierge services has put some of that at your fingertips, thanks to the world of mobile computing and smartphone technology.
The latest iteration promises to help get you anything you want or need, as long as you're willing to pay a premium to get it—within legal parameters, of course.
A recently launched Silicon Valley start-up called Magic is joining other vendors that also want to serve, such as WunWun, TaskRabbit and Instacart.
The idea is fairly simple. You submit a request for some kind of good or service, and, in the case of Magic, it finds a way to fulfill your request. You don't even need an app. All you need is a phone that's capable of sending and receiving text messages.
Here's how it works. You text the word "MAGIC" to a phone number to get started. Someone then responds to your text message and begins a dialogue about your request, so long as the request is legal. Magic then quotes you a price that you either accept or decline.
During the course of placing your first order, the company will get your credit card and contact information for fulfillment purposes. Then, it's off to the races. The problem is, everybody wanted to take Magic out for a test drive.
Within the first 48 hours of its existence last week, the start-up received around 17,000 text requests. At that time, the Magic team was comprised of 18 employees. The company had to put people on a waitlist due to the high volume.
Magic is basically a broker for delivery and errand services. It finds vendors who can actually fulfill your order, and then charges a service fee for arranging the deal, much like a stock broker connects buyers and sellers and charges a commission for providing the service.
Magic uses a variety of regional and national provider services, including delivery.
In the case of Magic, the product has been wildly popular in its first days in existence, and if it manages to maintain some of that momentum, there's no telling just how far it might go. The challenge for Magic and other concierge companies is to build a big enough repeat client list, with a certain critical mass of transactions and potential advertising reach.