How TaskRabbit's Kevin and Leah Busque stay married to the game, and each other


Before there was Uber or Airbnb, TaskRabbit helped birth the so-called "gig economy."

You've probably heard of the startup – an online service lets you pay a contractor to perform any odd number of jobs, including running an errand, cleaning an apartment, or putting together an Ikea bookshelf.

What you might not know is that Kevin Busque co-founded TaskRabbit with his wife, Leah—who he is quick to admit was the brains behind the operation all along.

In an unusual twist on the typical Silicon Valley story, Kevin and Leah were high school sweethearts who married right after college. They worked at the same company more than once, bootstrapped a business together, and eventually moved across the country to realize the Silicon Valley dream.

Leah served as CEO of TaskRabbit for years, and is now its executive chairman. Kevin recently launched a new venture, Guideline, a 401(k) platform.

That unique background as entrepreneur, CEO spouse, and CEO gives Kevin a fresh perspective on how to make big ideas a reality. He shared that with the Fortt Knox podcast. Here are some highlights:

Provide Your Own Path

Growing up in a military family, Kevin Busque felt the pressure of money being tight. He knew early on if he wanted anything extra, like a car, he had to do it on his own.

"For me it was really about work ethic; I needed to provide my own path. That's why I started [my first] company – out of necessity," he told Fortt Knox. By building computers with the help of his father and his uncle, he made plenty of extra money.

Kevin has been working in tech since high school. The first company he worked for, Iris Associates, led to a job at IBM.

Get Up and Move

Leah Busque, founder of TaskRabbit.
Mark Neuling | CNBC
Leah Busque, founder of TaskRabbit.

Before too long, Leah had a startup idea: Run My Errand. When it came time for the married couple to move from Boston to San Francisco, the logistics weren't easy, but the decision itself was.

"For us, it was never about the outcome, it was always about the journey," Kevin said. "That was the kicker really. Yeah, let's go do this. If not now, when?"

He credited their ambitious nature as part of what drove them to move. Once settled in Silicon Valley, Leah took her first investment from Dave McClure's Facebook Fund. Soon after, she met entrepreneur and investor Tim Ferriss, which led to connections with more investors. This became their funding path, a lifeline for a company trying to find its legs.

Persistence Counts Double

As a co-founder and behind-the-scenes player in TaskRabbit's path to growth, Kevin put his full trust in his wife, Leah. Before the company took its first outside investment round, he signed all his stock over to her. The vision was hers, anyway: Leah would be the CEO, and he would support her.

"I think for us, you just realize that nobody knows your business better than you, even if they have better experience." he said. "That's what it takes to be successful in start-up. It's about hard work."

As he supported TaskRabbit's growth as the company's chief technology officer, Kevin realized a lot of the young employees weren't taking the time to sign up for 401(k) retirement plans, perhaps because the process was too complicated. That's what led him to start Guideline.

Fortt Knox is a weekly podcast from CNBC anchor Jon Fortt. Previous episodes of the program can be found here.