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Mylackey.com does all your annoying errands

Who wants to clean the fish tank and pick up the dry cleaning on a sunny Saturday morning? Now there's Mylackey.com to do all the drudge work in your life.

Who wants to clean the fish tank and pick up the dry cleaning on a sunny Saturday morning? Now there's Mylackey.com to do all the drudge work in your life.

The year-old Seattle-based company, which provides a range of services on one Web site, plans to expand into seven more cities by the end of the year.

Mylackey is emerging at a time when the home-delivery segment is white hot. Companies such as online grocer Webvan, Net convenience store Kozmo.com and take-out food start-up Food.com are becoming media favorites.

But while the focus of those firms is selling goods, Mylackey's main offering is convenience and elbow grease.

"We'll do anything a customer asks," chief executive officer Brian McGarvey said.

He isn't kidding.

When McGarvey ticks off a list of services his company provides, it sounds like a fraternity initiation.

"Tomorrow we're sending someone to cut firewood," McGarvey said flatly. "We've been asked to pick up dog poop, and even to provide escort service--that one we turned down. We'll do anything that's legal."

On Mylackey.com, consumers can find someone to detail their car ($75), repair their snowboard ($30), or walk their dog--individually or with a pack ($18-$38 for up to 2 hours). Among its most popular offerings are lackeys who run errands for $40 for a 2-hour period.

There's another company offering personal services online--Concierge Confidant in Denver--but the services area isn't fully developed on the Net, said Jupiter Communications analyst Ken Cassar. That's because of the complex logistical problems and the high costs of building infrastructure and a brand name, he said.

Unlike online retailers, which ship products from a central warehouse, service providers "need to build a base of operations wherever they do business," Cassar said.

Financial analyst Vernon Keenan of San Francisco-based Keenan Vision says there are few U.S. cities where a home-delivery business can be profitable and even fewer that will support a concierge service.

"New York is the only one in the states," Keenan said. "That's the only city with a high enough concentration of fussy people willing to pay for a servant."

At Mylackey, one challenge is finding a really good lackey, McGarvey said.

McGarvey enlists established service providers, themselves business owners, and guarantees their work. McGarvey's contract with the masseuses, limousine drivers and truck drivers he employs stipulates that when they answer a Mylackey order, they are Mylackey employees.

The company bonds and insures each worker, and they arrive in a lemon-colored company van wearing a Mylackey uniform. In turn, they get a portion of each sale that is a bit smaller than if they had made the sale on their own.

"I'm spending a lot on marketing and bringing in the customers," McGarvey said. "I'm worrying about all the headaches that come with running a business. They want to be with us because all they have to worry about is doing the kind of work they enjoy."

McGarvey came up with the idea for Mylackey while complaining to a friend about how little time he had to pick up his dry cleaning. It started as an idea for an Internet dry-cleaning business and evolved from there.

Because the contracted companies work at a discounted rate, Mylackey doesn't add a service charge. As a result, Mylackey charges the going rates for common services such as dry cleaning, tailoring or house cleaning, McGarvey said.

"Whether these companies succeed or not depends on how much they have to spend to market themselves," said Jupiter's Cassar. "If they need to spend $50 million a year to build their brand, then it's going to be rough."