Life for Indonesia's middle class just got a little sweeter, courtesy of some Silicon Valley investors.
On Monday, 500 Startups, a venture capital firm founded by Google and PayPal alums, wrote an undisclosed six-figure check to YesBoss, a 23-person startup based in Jakarta, Indonesia.
As its name implies, YesBoss aims to please.
The 4-month-old business works like this: You send a text to YesBoss with a specific request for something, like a flight to Tokyo next Friday, tickets to next week's badminton tournament (it's big in Indonesia) or anything else you can imagine. Really.
"There are no limits as long as it's legal," the company says. YesBoss workers search for the best deals, handle the details and then, in theory, you get what you asked for.
The cost of the service is built into the final cost of the product or service that YesBoss helped arrange.
Indonesia is a massive market, with 74 million middle-class and affluent consumers as of 2013, according to the Boston Consulting Group. The firm predicts that figure will double by 2020. Not bad, but YesBoss has even bigger plans, says investing partner Khailee Ng of 500 Startups. It is also studying an expansion into a "big region" outside of Southeast Asia, said Ng.
And why not? Startups around the world are seeing a growing class of consumers willing to pay someone else to do the chores, errands and dirty work they'd rather avoid. Call it the Uber effect. More people are using their mobile phones to order services from the likes of private drivers, masseurs and dog walkers, and they wanted them 15 minutes ago.
Australia-based Sherpa promises to deliver or pick up almost anything within two hours for consumers in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth as well as Auckland, New Zealand.
New York-based GoButler unleashes trained real-life "heroes" who act like your round-the-clock concierge via text for folks in the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Canada as well as the US.
While these and some other companies have found some success overseas, there are numerous other startups in the US.
The namesake app from San Francisco-based TaskRabbit will help you find someone to do your household chores, from washing your windows to assembling your IKEA furniture. It's available in 19 cities, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles.
Then there's Alfred, which sounds like a stereotypical butler's name for good reason. The New York-based app maker will help outsource your tedious household chores, from washing clothes to sorting the mail and stocking the fridge.
Magic of San Francisco says it'll get you anything you want (that's not illegal) and will deliver it where you want it. No, for the record, it won't deliver a live tiger. People frequently use Magic for help with everyday tasks like ordering and delivering food, cleaning the house and booking flights, said CEO Mike Chen. But they've also texted Magic to deliver thousands of pounds of dirt to a construction site and to commission a skywriting plane, he said.
"We're getting wired for speed," says Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus Commerce, which makes software for e-commerce companies. "Speed is becoming a predominant factor in these types of services. It's becoming the new norm."
And Caporaso also sees another appeal: the lure of living like a boss on the cheap.
You can see that in the startups' names. YesBoss has the right deferential tone for a servant, Alfred conjures up an image of the quintessential butler, and Sherpas are the Himalayan mountain folk who haul gear for well-heeled climbers.
"Everyone wants [a] luxury experience without fixed or high cost," 500 Startup's Ng said in an email. "Every country with a growing population will be receptive to what YesBoss can do for them."
So far, more than 6,000 Indonesian consumers have signed up for YesBoss. But neither YesBoss nor Magic will disclose just how many people they've helped, or flowers they've delivered, backrubs they've scheduled, pants they've pressed or clothes they've folded.
For now, investors appear optimistic. Magic reportedly received a $12 million investment earlier this year from Sequoia Capital, one of Silicon Valley's most prominent venture capital firms. Alfred raised $10.5 million in April.
What remains to be seen is if these and other ventures can turn a profit from our growing laziness.
In the meantime, Jeeves, bring a beer over here.
Correction, October 15 at 2:48 p.m. PT: This story incorrectly stated the location of GoButler's headquarters. The company is based in New York. Locations where Sherpa and GoButler operate were also added.