How exactly does one go about installing a ceiling fan? We don’t know either, but next time you need a new one, there’s no need to Google how to do it yourself or fork over $200 to an electrician—because Gopher has you covered. And they can pick up your Chipotle order, too.
Gopher, based in Holly Springs, is an all-purpose, two-sided marketplace where customers (“Requestors”) can seek anything from groceries and food orders to home services requests and yard work using the Gopher Request app.
“We want to provide a marketplace for literally anything,” said Gopher CEO John Newbury. “Deliveries, errands, chores, tasks, home services, and so on and so forth. Where the folks looking for work can join the platform for free and take whatever job works for them.”
Newbury co-founded the company with Tom Livolsi—president of Collaborative Technology Solutions in Raleigh—who serves as chief business development officer; as well as Jonathan Deleon, manager of operations engineering at SolarWinds in Morrisville, who is Gopher’s director of engineering operations.
Newbury said customers can request “literally anything” using the Gopher Request app. Unlike other on-demand apps with a set pricing model, what makes Gopher different is the customer decides what price they are willing to pay.
Anybody can freely become a “Gopher” on the “Gopher Go” app at any time and decide what requests to fulfill. Once the transaction is complete, the funds are transferred to the Gopher via Stripe.
“No matter what your profession is,” Newbury said, “if you’re looking for extra money, we want to be able to always provide an opportunity for you to be able to do that.”
The first iteration of the Gopher Go and Gopher Request apps was exclusively launched on the Apple App Store in November, 2018. In May 2020, a newer version was launched for both Apple and Android users.
To offset their costs and generate revenue, Gopher charges a fee of 8% plus $1.99 per transaction. During the financially strained times of the pandemic, the $1.99 fee is being waived.
As restaurants learn to cope in a time of severely hampered sales, many turned to third-party delivery apps to stay in business, despite many of the apps charging a per-meal commission fee that can erode up to 30% of the revenue associated with the transaction.
“With Gopher, none of that happens,” Newbury said.
Restaurants always receive their full menu price when orders are placed and the Gopher always knows, with full transparency, exactly how much they’ll receive for completing a request. So everyone wins, Newbury said.
$1M Raised, And Seeking More
Gopher has acquired 10,000 customers and facilitated 3,000 transactions, Newbury said. After recently closing out a $1 million friends-and-family round, Newbury said they are starting a seed round slated for $1.5 million to bring on full-time employees and implement new app enhancements based on customer feedback.
One of the enhancements will allow Requestors to select their Gopher. Gophers will simultaneously be able to boost their profile by advertising specific skills or uploading certifications. Especially if you are requesting a niche task like getting kitchen lights installed, you would probably want to filter your Gophers by who is an electrician or handyman (or woman) with verifiable experience.
Or have you ever had an amazing Uber driver—gum in the back, good music, party lights—and next time you needed a ride you wish there was a way to get them again? With Gopher’s enhancement, users will be able to request a specific Gopher time and time again without being randomly matched to the first available person who’s willing to take the task.
With eyes set on nationwide growth and acquiring 40,000 Requestors in 2021, marketing and advertising will also be a big focus with any funds raised via a seed round. Some other enhancements will improve scalability.
For instance, customers will soon be able to adjust the price they originally requested without requiring company intervention, which will help in situations where a Gopher must purchase goods in person before delivery and the Requestor can only make their best guess.
“We really want to expand on the growth that we already have here in the Triangle and build throughout the Southeast,” Newbury said.