Not sure if this is because of how quickly this blew up, but well done.
The PH comments:
This website looks extremely untrustworthy, purely from a design standpoint. I feel a lot of potential users would be put off by this!
Interesting idea. Terrible site design. Unclear if they're charging for this added convenience.
Are you a human being talking about other human beings, or a "market opportunity" about-talking "quality traffic" that "converts very well?" I should write a "quality traffic" bot with "good conversions," then post it on Product Hunt.
In other words I'd be interested to find anything on the quality of its traffic.
We launched one of those landing-only email-catching product pitches on Product Hunt and Designer News. It went amazing. We never even topped #1, yet we got lots of useful feedback and more than five hundred emails of potential customers, some of them high-profile (think @google.com or @abc.com)
I suspect just like the concierge at a hotel, the cut comes from the provider of the service (a dozen roses for 100 bucks - they can afford some affiliate fees from that)
Payment pages should really be linked to an order ID of some sort, without which customers shouldn't be allowed to pay. Otherwise, lots of things can go wrong. Depending on how they have configured things on the server side, a customer could change the amount being paid and the system would consider the ticket paid, cheating them out of money. Or a customer could follow an old link and wind up paying twice if they thought it didn't go through the first time.
I'm not joking, click on it and try to pay. It shows an invoice of ($5,000), a.k.a. $5000 negative dollars. I didn't enter real payment information to see what happens next because of really idiotic interpretations of what constitutes "hacking", but it is a really bad design choice on their part that took me about half a second to find.
Founder, if you're reading this: was this an in-house build or did you outsource this?
Make sure top phone # is tappable on mobile browsers.
Examples that don't make me question your ability to deliver - airline example seems to be hiding complexity (I question it as I read it), others really good
... And thanks. I thought I was the only one who thought the video fad was dumb. Now it's just a toll booth for getting a product presented, and I never watch them. How about others? Do you find videos actually useful or are they just glitz?
However, when I've decided to actually try it out, I find the video extremely useful as I expect it to demonstrate the onboarding process for me (ie how do I get started quickly).
(I very rarely watch videos and much prefer screenshots or descriptions.)
I don't mind videos but I hate those non informative mood videos.
This site doesnt need video because the information is already there.
Case in point, technical support/call center and room where you're constantly 'monitored'(NASA control room/datacenter NOC etc).
Annoying glitz too if they include information in the videos that isn't in text form on their website. Videos play at one speed, I can't fast forward the video if I'm a faster "video-watcher" like I can with reading. And if I'm on a VPN I'd rather avoid loading the video altogether if I can avoid it, which is what my browser plugins are for.
Well, perhaps I could just watch the videos faster, interesting thought experiment.
If I'm legitimately interested in a service and want to know how it works, sure, but if I just want a quick overview to decide if I'm interested I'd rather have something simple like some text and images.
It's extremely rare for me to indulge a linear narrative when I'm looking for information.
Just what they can do for me right now. Hat's off. Good luck.
Okay this looks really interesting! And with no full-width+full-height responsive image, I can proceed... it's something different, something not exactly 100% what you would expect...
So intriguing... so what, dear MagicMan, is it? Would you kindly answer dear Sir, because I'm uncertain, and curiously in need of an answer before I text myself down the rabbit hole...
IT JUST LOOKS SO INTERESTING!!! ;-)
Corollary: When you're pinching pennies is not the time to use a concierge service.
The whole point of a concierge service, such as this, is to have someone on call to whom you may say "Here is my problem. Make it go away." Such services generally come at a much higher rate than Magic appear to be charging.
Sure, it'd be preferable to have a full fee schedule available, for cases where it's needed. But, given that using a concierge service is perhaps the definitive case of spending money to conserve time; given also that this is a side project which has suddenly blown up in its creators' faces; and given finally that said creators appear to be working unbelievably hard to scale it up and out to meet the demand they've discovered -- given all that, I think it's pretty unreasonable to shit on the people who've made concierge service cheaper and more accessible than ever before because, in scrambling to meet unexpected demand, they have yet to get around to polish. Give them a month or two to get everything shaken out, and if they still haven't put up any fee information, then go after them. Until then, calm yourself; you are, after all, free not to use their service, if it fails to meet your requirements.
To this point, look at @exogen's extremely helpful demo of the service he posted. Can you tell how much the fee was? I was curious, so I actually went to Octo Sushi's site and tried to mock up a fake similar order, and I couldn't figure out if there even was a fee added on top of Octo's price or not.
I'd have gladly paid for someone to take that pain away. There's probably a viable business model in there somewhere if someone can independently put a competent customer service layer in front of companies like ATT.
That's very poor negotiation in my books.
I think it is because the wording of the texts make it seem like they are quoting the price of the service you are requesting, but the quote actually includes their fee. There's nothing wrong with that, but for some reason I didn't realize it on first read -- maybe a small wording change can make this more clear.
Perhaps it should be something along the lines of "final price exactly as quoted including tip, nothing more" the key being that they aren't one of those services (like so many others) that advertise one price and charge you another.
"no hidden fees" is a recognizable meme though, and being pedantically correct is perhaps – and this is a pedantic concern – not as valuable as the phycological grab of that phrase.
Unless they're working out something with the provider where the third party will not expect a tip, which would be a miracle.
Edit: I stand corrected. Someone quotes the site as having:
> It's completely free to chat with Magic. When you order something, we'll let you know the total price so you can confim it before you are billed. There are no hidden fees, and tip is included.
Who does that apply to? Companies based in CA? Companies doing business with anyone in CA?
This isn't entirely unique to California by the way (although California is notable for reaching further than other U.S. states). For instance, there's a famous case (or series of cases) concerning the application of French law to Yahoo with respect to activity taking place on U.S. servers but accessible to French users. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LICRA_v._Yahoo!
On a practical level, if you're worried about California law, you should consider if you have any people or resources located in California. Or in the U.S. generally. Or if you plan to expand to California at some point. It's one thing to break California law. It's another to have any assets that California can go after.
Pretty much any civil action is similar. Unless it's on a massive scale, ask a lawyer what you should do when someone appears intent on pushing a frivolous copyright suit on you. Sure, you have every right to use that content, but do you have the tens of thousands of dollars (minimum) and months or years in court to prove it? It's practically always easier to just accept that you've been bullied out of exercising your rights and replace the contested content with something that the claimant won't launch a frivolous suit over. Lawsuits are only worthwhile when the workaround is more expensive, which is often a hard standard to meet -- that's why most cases end in settlement.
Worse idea: giving incorrect legal advice without a license.
Jurisdiction is complex. With the Internet, you do not need to have a physical location somewhere to do business there.
>With the Internet, you do not need to have a physical location somewhere to do business there.
Although this is true, the rule of thumb has generally been that sites are governed by the rules of the principality where their servers reside, because it's the only effective or practical way to determine jurisdiction in a worldwide network. (It's likely that most websites have something hosted in CA, by the way).
I'm not a lawyer, so I could just be talking out of my ass, but it annoys me to read uninformative "you are not a lawyer" comments, as though people who are not lawyers are wholly unqualified to even informally discuss law on a message board. Of course it's true that anybody who takes serious business action on account of dubious message board advice is a fool, whether that's legal, medical, financial, tax, or otherwise.
In this case, there are many issues (indeed, most of what idiot wrote is not correct), but to give one: op is taking money from people in different states, placing orders with delivery services there, etc. Contrast that with idiot's statement about no jurisdiction and frivolous lawsuits.
We thought we'd launch it ourselves later if it did well, and other people have been posting it on Product Hunt, Reddit, HN themselves...
I'm here to answer any questions, although we've hardly slept!
I stopped using them after this bad experience. I asked them to send about $100 of good chocolate as a gift, and they just sent a $10 bar, 10 times. Duh.
Anyways, I felt a very good sensation looking over this. Probably because it's just such a PITA to do things like order pizza. Gotta talk to people, decline sales questions, etc. What a relief to not have to deal with that day-to-day stuff. Or just going out to the store or grabbing lunch before the place closes. A personal assistant I pay on demand for anything? Sweet.
Is this sarcasm? I can't see how wrangling an order through an intermediary is easier than just ordering from the local pizzeria's website.
Not to mention that it takes a non-trivial time to confirm - in exogen's example above, it was 69 minutes plus delivery time. Small questions about relatively trivial things really drag out that confirmation time.
Often I'm just on my phone at night, no tablet/laptop. So say I want to get some food. I've got to go find the damn website. Remember a login maybe. Or deal with some JS-laden thing that doesn't render smoothly on my 6" Android. Sort all that shit out. Wonder if I have cash for a tip, cause I feel obligated most times.
Or calling. I gotta actually dial, talk to someone. Deal with all their questions if I want combos or the offer and I'll save $2 if I just say yeah, and what's my phone number and address again?
I realise I should get over this. That I'd do better in life (especially if I'm gonna sell my own software) if I got more comfortable just calling people and telling them what to do.
Meanwhile, I'm already imagining how awesome this is gonna be next time I'm in SF. I leave the office, start walking home. Text Magic and say "hey get me some X from Y". Get home and unpack my mind and someone comes and gives me food.
If it's an hour confirmation time, that's not as magic, but it's not a show-stopper. With less coordination than making the order myself, I can just pipeline things to work out.
Perhaps this reflects badly on me or is a commentary on society or laziness or I dunno. But I'm pretty fucking happy to imagine I can have someone else unlock the city for me if I'm not feeling up to it.
Here's how sick I am: I would order lunch via this every day, versus trying to get myself to go at the right time. Not too early because of the lines, but not too late because then they run out of good stuff or close. But I should probably get out a bit more so I won't use it every day just because of that. Otherwise I totally would. Hell, if they are streamlined enough, I'd even do it to order a cup of frozen yogurt (I'd probably pay $15-20 twice a week for delivery alone). I do prefer to get out and walk and take breaks, but sometimes it just doesn't work out, or it's too far, or whatever lameass excuse.
If there was a standard by which browsers stored payment and delivery details, a little beefed up from what we have now, would that get us part way? And then an endorsed way of interacting with an ordering system that can answer questions by default (no newsletter signup, no insurance, no warranty, default shipping, etc).
Loads of security issues, but we're going to have to solve this sort of thing eventually.
Isn't that basically the idea of PayPal or Amazon Payments and similar things?
If so, it has since become standards track: https://html.spec.whatwg.org/multipage/forms.html#dom-form-r...
Alternatively, what if exogen wasn't willing to increase the order price by 50%? Back to the drawing board for another round at a different shop. It seems like a slow way to get food unless you're particularly laid back about pricing and what arrives, or you know exactly what's available at the shops you want to source from.
Of course, it'll depend on their execution. They're gonna have to keep a reputation of not totally ripping me off, like Amazon. With Amazon, I don't ever, ever, price compare. If I was gonna buy a 256 GB SSD and Amazon said it was $300, I'd go "well shit, I guess they went up" and that's that. If they keep abusing me, I'll figure it out, so keep the abuse low, and if I get pissed off, comp me and make me feel special.
There's no reason Magic needs to be slow and involve lots of back and forth so long they don't give me a reason to distrust them.
Edit: But you're right. If it's always slow, always back-n-forth, always weird pricing I need to check, then it wouldn't be great. So I'm just gonna hope they do a good job.
How did that go? Do they just find you a scalper and you pay the overcharge, or do they find you one at retail price on launch day?
Best concierge thing was going to a packed restaurant, told it'd take a long time without reservations, making a call and turning around to "right this way". No fee from Amex. They really wanna sell the flattery/status idea to get you spending more and feeling the $450/$5000 annual fees are worth it.
OTOH if you don't mind coming off as a dick, you can pull out a Centurion card and try to bully/bluff people with a "don't you know who I am" kinda deal. Though I did love the one time a friend tried this and the clerk just laughed and said "we don't take Amex". Also, other banks are issuing "Black" cards so there's a lot of people trying this not even being Amex holders.
Centurion used to come with more benefits, but they've been pulling them back and making it more of a show-off "I'm so elite" kind of thing. (A big blow was losing Continental elite status, since United is Chase's bitch.) They're building out airport lounges now to help compensate. And in Toronto Pearson, because Canada is just so incompetent, airlines don't have faster lines for security, just Air Canada and Amex. Rather annoying if you're a United 1K or otherwise paid for first class. That's probably the only reason I'd consider getting an Amex card again.
Nowadays, even random VISA cards will have concierge services, because it's fairly cheap, underused, yet makes people feel special. And for the cost of a Platinum card ($495 for primary, then $195 I think) you can use a lot of other services. And Centurion cards were $5000/$2500. I think you could just carry $5000 in cash and get the same kind of "respect".
(I haven't used Amex in years. Despite paying on time, always, and having a runrate of over $250K a year, they did a financial review, requesting my tax/employment records. I told them to fuck off and that was that.)
"Anything you want" makes it sound like people can use it like they'd use Siri.
How do you plan to handle security related dangerous items? For example, an user may ask you to deliver a package taken from one place to another place and you may arrange that but that package may contain dangerous/destructive/harmful materials which may be against law of the land where you operate.
You can ask user to confirm contents but he/she may lie and faithfully you may try to deliver and in between you may get struck in legal issues. If the origin is well known or reputed enough, then risk may be less but otherwise, there is an element of risk. Have you considered it? and how do you plan to handle it safely? Thanks.
But...then I concluded that surely it's ultimately cheaper and safer to just hire your own drug couriers. Given the slightest risk of discovery, they're less likely to reveal anything about the sender or to know the identity the recipient, unlike Magic.
So yeah, some people will always slip some shady stuff through every now and then. But I don't think Magic is the best solution to any of those illicit problems. No illegal arms dealer is sitting around thinking, "If only I had someone to deliver all these gun orders, I'd be rich!"
"We'll order what you need from the appropriate service (e.g. DoorDash, Instacart, Postmates, etc.), and deal with them"
All of these services handle the delivery when you order directly through them, so I don't think Magic is accepting a hand-off from them and then adding an extra leg to a trip. It sounds like Magic is just acting as a middle-man in these cases. I don't see anything on their site which suggests that they ever actually handle your stuff.
Here's hoping you can scale up fast enough to outpace demand and give everyone a good first impression.
There must be other services that let you text internationally, or pretend to have a US number.
"I think it is a great idea that has potential but I personally wouldn't use them because I can't find anything about them on the website. Looks like a scam."
"They need to re-design their website so it doesn't look like it was slapped together in 10 minutes and add an about page so we know who they are."
"Not even a business at this point."
"This stuff kind of annoys me actually. I get the minimal product concept to test the market but when stuff like this is pushed out there it makes consumers very wary."
"These guys will take this to some bay area VC's and probably get funded because it blew up on Reddit and HN with a bunch of other techies. Meh!"
"It is going to take some serious $$ to get a service like this going. The support alone for handling inbound texts and having reps look for and book deals is a very big undertaking."
"Yay! Another useless service that creates more low wage service jobs that cater to the wealthy."
This just doesn't compute. In what mindframe does this ever make sense as a complaint? If you're creating new jobs, even if they're low wage, you're just giving people more choice - they can now work at one more place than before, no one's forced into that, it literally can't do harm. And direct transfer of wealth from the wealthy to the poor is a positive, right?
I'm so confused.
Systems that classify human potential at birth though are rather unfair and amount to nepotism. The opposite of objective quality. No matter how many jobs a King or Queen creates, the upper class is always above the lower class.
Also, absolute transfer of wealth doesn't mean relative transfer. Slavery nowadays is actually more expensive then just hiring illegals because of housing and food costs. Wealth here is transferred in an absolute sense.
That said, many Uber drivers are very happy with the steeping stone it lends them. Flexible hours, and rather decent pay.
As for the "low wage jobs" comments, I'd pick this over being an Amazon warehouse automaton!
That would be great!
It's interesting the contrast of first impressions. HN is often fortunate to receive a behind the scenes look into projects. Here we have a first-hand discussion with the creators commenting and answering questions, such as their previous businesses  and general updates , which helps us gauge the business more than perhaps a general user encountering the site. From the top-rated posts it also appears many here are so used to typical design choices that there's an appreciation for the more straight-forward approach.
The "general user encountering the site" will most likely be the users using this service so imo they are just as important as the HN crowd.
That sort of comment annoys me actually. Is it not great that "wealthy" people pay for all of those service jobs? Out of all things, I literally can't see any problems with this. Unless the wages are below living wage of course,but it looks like the commenter has a problem with service jobs in general?
Welcome to modern-day capitalism. This is exactly what it is, with or without Magic. Don't like it? Neither do I, but then we need a new socio-financial mechanism to redistribute wealth, which goes well beyond the scope of services like Magic.
Says who? Where's the cutoff between just and unjust?
This is something I have a lot of interest in at the moment, so if anyone would like to chime in, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
(the minimum was from the sushi place, not Magic)
It falls apart at a certain global scale, but I'm sure the business has pivoted twice by that point.
The first couple responses were pretty slow, sounds like they were getting absolutely hammered with requests. I could have done it a lot faster myself for sure, seems promising though!
In addition to the high demand they're going through, right now, I'd say it's understandable.
Not sure about surprise additions, but isn't it bit overpriced for one person quick lunch?
Maybe the Magic people should promote a tool, since word-of-mouth promotion can be hard without.
So either the Magic surcharge was $2 and they tipped $0, or they tipped $2 and were doing some free introductory thing. ($2 off coupons for eat24 are also plentiful, so I guess Magic could have also made $4.)
Maybe I'm projecting onto "the general public" when I make this generalization, but performing operations on a smartphone (aside from call/text) are oft accompanied by the very real risk of squandering your time away. Especially when a browser is involved.
There is something elegant about the interface of a dumb phone, especially a flip phone: You pull it out of your pocket, whip it open, type your text, send it. And then crucially, you flip it closed and stop thinking about it. This is the key. You're using it when you're using it, and you're not when you're not.
Even grander generalization and possibly controversial opinion: I hope that consumer technology begins to cater more to those of us who wish to use technology in this way - as a tool that you pull out of your pocket and promptly put away upon achieving your ends.
A text based or "messaging" UI is often simpler and more effective than fumbling with some complicated direct manipulation UI.
"Chetan Sharma counted the total active SMS user base is now up to 5.9 Billion humans or 91% of all mobile phone owners, in May of 2012. So SMS is nearly 6 times larger by reach than Facebook. SMS is 3 times bigger than TV and has 2.5 times more reach than email. As less people place voice calls from their mobile phones than send SMS text messages, this is the most used telecommunication method - and most used digital media - on the planet. Yes, humble little SMS."
Open Standard -> broker -> Walled Gardens?
My perception of the cost of text messaging for something which requires a dialogue on a portable device is unnecessarily high, compared to a less than 1 minute phone call. This isn't just due to the slowness of typing vs voice.
All of the examples of this service are conversational. Conversational idea description through text messages is generally slower and more ambiguous than through voice.
When trying to get our thoughts communicated into somebody else's thoughts, we need feedback to let us estimate how close the other person's thoughts match ours, before pulling the trigger on a transaction. In text, the packetization of messages delays all opportunities for feedback, and has a more limited bandwidth of expression compared to vocal inflection and body language.
For sending simple status notifications to others, text works great. For unambiguous, unidirectional communication, text works great. When time spent communicating doesn't matter, bidirectional texting is fine. For dialogues where you describe something you want done, text sucks.
When I discuss these issues with my peers (I live in the SF Bay Area), I find that many of them share my concerns, to varying degrees. Does anybody know if such a service exists?
It seems to me that it shouldn't matter where your income comes from, the social safety net should be there regardless. The ACA was a step in that direction by requiring people self insure if the did not get that benefit from their employer. I think we need to go even further and separate safety net benefits from employers. Then people would be able to choose whether they want the job security of a W-2 position or if they prefer the flexibility of a 1099 position without having to sacrifice the safety net.
(Side note: I'm a 1099 contractor who self insures. I have a lot of difficulty imagining going back to a W-2 job.)
If you want all that, you should move to a country where all that is required by law, or lobby towards these laws being implemented in your country. However, you must realise that all that has very real costs; and businesses that are only marginally profitable with current setups will not exist, causing the people working there to lose their (low, but positive) income.
If you just want to help, it might be better to use whatever service exists, and spend a bigger amount on charity.
In other words, it's the classic 'race to the bottom' problem, which is exactly what the OP is talking about. It's not helpful at a societal level to out-compete each other into the ground.
I don't agree that companies should become safety nets, but there absolutely should be a liveable minimum wage, that companies are expected to adhere to.
I'm sure you'd agree that citizens rights should trump those of consumers who want cheap stuff.
Are you also against open source? It allows companies to rely on unpaid labor (with no benefits) and directly competes with software that does pay benefits and could potentially put them out of business.
Don't worry - we have a plan to handle it. For now we are closing down free registrations so that we can focus on delivering the product to the awesome people who have signed up so far and who are using the service.
I've replaced the phone number on the page you see here with an email opt-in waiting list where you can sign up to be notified when Magic is available to you.
In the meantime, I have added a Stripe button for $20 after the email opt-in where you can gain access now if you want to get in right now.
How could you create a solution like this in less than 2 days? Training operators (who where how many, paying a call center?), how are you managing customer data together with those operators etc. Sounds like a logistic nightmare to me, unless you and 10 friends are sitting day and night in your apartment..
Apple has 800m credit cards on file (1)
In one fell swoop Apple could own the local delivery market, shocking how perfect of a concept / execution this is.
Even if 10% of their users started using their service to require "magic", there is no way in hell even a company like Apple could scale an operation like this that's bottlenecked by humans.
If Apple did this at their scale, they would probably end up very quickly having an (hopefully public) API for every business around, rather than having their agents call the same restaurant 10 times a day. That would really be a revolutionary way to consume.
I saw a profile (probably on HN) about how the Siri technology was developed. This service sounds nearly ideal for Siri. In the short term I'd bet 50% of requests could be handled with total automation. Seeing how they add functionality to the system I'd bet they can get that up into the 70+% range over time. Many things still require a human touch, but you can throttle demand with pricing.
I'd expect it to come from Amazon first though. Seems more up their alley.
Do you actually use Siri yourself? Siri might have seen some improvements lately, but there's no way it could handle stuff like this.
+1 for the zak game
Just text a number and get what I want. It solves my problems by giving a path of least resistance to getting what I want. A company doing a similar thing was handing out fliers over the summer and they had an app to install. I thought the idea was cool but never got around to installing it.
I just added this phone number to my contact list for when I'm reading to use it.
As a non-coder, I love reading the responses of programers here. "Automate this!" "There is no way to scale." "This needs AI."
As an outsider looking in, my idea to scale is similar to Uber. Have workers that can sign on to work whenever they have the time. The workers handle the orders and receive a cut of the fee you charge. It would be great if you could have some kind of rating system where the consumer could choose who they work with, but I'm not sure how to make that happen with SMS.
I'm not saying this is better or more cost efficient than automation. I just see it as a solution to their current problem.
Uber is looking to automate, but check out their current valuation. They can afford to do so all by scaling with humans.
I'll now wait to get hammered by HN. :)
HN seems a little out of touch.
Magic will create many call-center like jobs...
The problem is how do you pay such workers? If that's per order cut, they will want to make as many orders as possible inevitably degrading the service quality. And it usually takes a single bad experience to put people off of such service.. Actually, I don't see how this can scale well, imho, they should market more like "personal assistant on demand" and include monthly fees or pay per assistant's time, what also could solve a questions-that-do-not-result-in-order problem.
What I do find.. "decadent"... is people like you, judging masses of other people on the basis of what they find interesting or useful. Especially when you can't see past the low hanging fruit and aren't able to grasp any potential a service might have.
Piece of advice: If a majority of people are interested and finding use in a service, re-examine your own evaluation skills before telling everyone else to re-examine their lives.
The majority people on this site may find this service to be useful, but I gurantee, outside of the SV bubble, this service would get laughed at by the actual majority of Americans.
The market here is exclusively the faux rich. If your time was actually this valueable you would have a real assistant. The service as useful as a upper middle class doggy spa. It's viable, but it fails to solve any _real_ problems.
For better or for worse, modern Western life is built on a thousand now-invisible time-saving innovations. I think we're at a transitional time in our culture. All this leisure time has historically mostly served to allow us to fill up our lives with increased complexity, but I think we've hit the point where that no longer scales, because it's simply too much to track. What Magic gets right, in my mind, is that it's part of a trend of abstracting away that new complexity. It gives you a single entry point through which to leverage a bunch of innovations that you don't even have to know about.
Where I think services like this can really win is if they can use economy of scale to improve upon the individual's own ability to optimize value for cost. This is possible, if say, they maintain a knowledge base of the best deals.
If you perceive your time to be so valuable that you can't bear the five minutes it takes to order a pizza online or by phone, you probably should re-examine that valuation.
Especially when five minutes ordering exactly what you want directly from your preferred supplier is replaced by a fifteen minute exchange with a stranger who has to interprets vague inputs, has misaligned incentives, doesn't know any of your preferences beyond those you expressly state, etc. all of which you then pay a premium for...
But I could be wrong. Maybe there's a sweet spot in the price-utility ratio where this makes sense for people who are not technically rich and busy maintaining the wealth. It's interesting.
I wonder why you're replying to me; you're specifically bringing up points which my post explains are unimportant.
"order me pepperoni pizza"
>ok all I need now is ur credit card # pls
4024 0071 5223 8456
>Name on the card
Jorg H. Jorgensen
>ok thanks jorg ur sausage pizza is on the way!
I'm aware that this may all seem a bit dramatic when we're talking about pizzas, but the mindset of the elites is important in this case. Services like this encourage not knowing where your food, water, clothing etc. is coming from.
> Services like this encourage not knowing where your food, water, clothing etc. is coming from
You don't know where those products are coming from. The ingredients in the food you're ordering have been gathered industrially, processed industrially, probably moved between four different countries, ended up at your city's warehouse, were ordered in bulk by a grocery store in your city, were once again ordered in bulk by your local restaurant, were prepared by a chef you'll never meet, packed by some cashier you probably haven't seen and only then does it reach the delivery boy.
And you're telling me adding one more layer on top of that is decadent because you don't know where your food is coming from? Please. The general point is excellent and worth talking about, but it simply doesn't apply here.
You say this system is wasteful, but I disagree - probably much less human effort was wasted achieving the basic need of feeding that person than what was needed before - which is well shown by the fact that it cost much less (even with the Magic fee) than it did back then.
I don't agree that merely having more layers makes it necessarily more wasteful - if they're the result of specialization, it isn't.
You have a point about the disconnection and unmindfulness that comes from having these layers, but it reverting to the previous processes is akin to burning your eyes so that you can better understand and empathize with the blind. That would be waste, and I think better ways of maintaining that connection are possible.
Anything that is more convenient than things were previously can be seen as decadent. I suspect so much that everyone takes for granted today would have seemed decadent to people 50 or 100 years ago.
Maybe there's a number of people that such a service would really help out? I don't know, but single parents are one group that comes to mind. For helping them get items that they can't easily go out and get themselves because of having to stay at home with the kids. It's hard to predict how new services may end up being used and being useful.
Maybe the current cost is too prohibitive for many people at the moment (i don't know what they charge and don't live in the US so wouldn't know how to judge the figures anyway), but if such a service proves useful and popular maybe the prices will come down. Anyway, I don't see anything inherently wrong with a service that not everyone can afford.
While businesses have to be focused on the markets that have money, I feel like this has gone to far; how can this be used to solve the problems of people who are busy but do not have money?
That said, I do hope this team has some amazing trick under their sleeves that has eluded everyone else, because I do want this service to exist.
Lots of manual work for little fees. They could hire/ outsource, but the quality will drop and prices will hike.
They might be able to find a niche of people willing to pay a lot for simple things they could probably do easily themselves (like ordering food, or booking a flight), and use that extra money to outsource, but something tells me that market is pretty small.
It's interesting, I'm curious to see if this can turn into a company.
(And just in general stuff that is actually easy to automate will mean a ton of middle men already exist to make it easy, or more likely, the person could just do it themselves quickly)
The founders can either outsource to someone for as cheap as they can manage and target clients who don't care about likely significant middleman fees (and who are most likely on the lazy side), or they can spend all of their attention each day doing these little tasks for people.
Since it was a whimsical side project, as they described it, I imagine this will go on for a little while longer, but then they will wind it down and/or maybe try to sell it like the glitter envelope guy who didn't want to do all the work, and then have something quite nice for their resumes, plus some PR to go towards their next project.
I'm sure they've thought about it since it isn't their first business, so i'm really curious.
I don't agree, but a scary indictment if it were true.
Clever business name though.
Judging by the examples on your site, you've succeeded in bringing concierge service to (sorry) the masses, by pricing it much lower than competing offerings.
Congratulations! You have a highly viable MVP. Good luck scaling it out!
This service is based on SMS though, and I'd presume they hold all the pertinent info (address, credit card etc) so that I wouldn't have to keep repeating it. I'd still have to trust that I get what I want, but the crucial speaking to an operator component is reduced to a fire and forget SMS. I'd use this if I was in the States.
> My Credit/Debit card offers concierge service but I've never used it. I'd have to find the number (or put it in my phone..), then <text> an operator, and then trust that they could deliver on what I expect.
> This service is based on <calls> though, and I'd presume they hold all the pertinent info (address, credit card etc) so that I wouldn't have to keep repeating it. I'd still have to trust that I get what I want, but the crucial <texting> an operator component is reduced to a fire and forget <call>. I'd use this if I was in the States.
The landing page for Magic shows me exactly what I could expect, and it's based on SMS.
What's not to follow?
- having to find the number (or put in in your phone), and
- trust that they could deliver on what I expect
- I'd presume they hold all the pertinent info
Yet those three things are identical whether you use magic or your CC concierge service!
So you might as well have just written
> My Credit/Debit card offers concierge service but I've never used it. I don't like talking on the phone, but I don't mind SMS.
For example since my company pays for my phone I tend to use them for things like getting a taxi wherever I am. "I want a taxi in X city". And they can do this via SMS or phone call, they can send the reply via phone or via sms if you want, included in the service charge.
Essentially they can do what magic claims, with operators standing by 24/7, for a service fee that comes from your phone operator.
We've had this in Sweden for many, many years now. I don't even remember how long but I know that some time 6-7 years ago they started advertising that you could call them (or text them) about any stupid question you might have and they would try to answer it.
If this magic really is new to the states then I predict it will explode just like our swedish alternatives have here.
The only type of payment involved is the service fee when you call the number. Other than that they look up information for you, or answer questions for you. Like a google phone operator.
I'll bet they don't invent antigravity devices though! :-)
I need Magic in my life. I hate ordering, filling out forms, etc. Pease scale this thing hard and fast. This is Uber-level fantastic. Better than that, even.
And then I was reminded of Uber. Isn't Uber in the same sort of service model that requires a human driver for every request, but is doing super successful? (let's not talk about regulation.)
The more I think about it, the more it appears a good business model. It definitely helps users save time and worry, and as demand is growing, it can simply hire more trained service men, and creates huge job opportunities.
This is a platform that enables/accelerates service to people by people. I'm optimistic of its future.
Unlike Uber, this service doesn't require any physical presence in a city, just knowledge of services available in that city. So in theory they could launch in Mongolia next week. But, so could a competitor. Unlike Uber's (contracted) fleet of physical cars which provide a material barrier to competition, all you need here is knowledge and a Twilio account and you're in business.
There is a risk here that whatever they (and other startups) do in this space, the gorillas just come along and clone them - e.g. Amex, Visa/MC, etc - but offer the service for free. They can run their concierge services at a loss since they are attached to a profitable card services business. This is similar to robo advisory financial services where Wealthfront etc now face margin squeezing, maybe even life threatening competition from Vanguard and Fidelity.
I've used services like this for years and this exact business model (sms concierge) pops up every few months. I've worked out the per unit economics and it's a tough business. At some point due to automation of background services it will become possible. Maybe these guys will raise a huge round and take that gamble. Maybe the timing is right and they will succeed (along with many competitors rushing into a new industry), or maybe it's still too early by a decade and they will fail. But some day with AI and automation I think this model will work.
I could see this happening in many business models. Obviously Magic may fail entirely (it appears to be pretty much just an idea currently) but I could see AI replacing the human components.
I'm not sure how I feel about all of this.
Requester: "I want two pepperoni pizzas, one with extra cheese."
AI Response: "I can have 3 pizzas, two pepperoni, and one cheese (with extra cheese), delivered from Dominos for $24.15"
Requester: "No, I wanted two pepperoni pizzas, with extra cheese on one of them"
Human steps in after the "no" is detected: "Sorry, I misunderstood your request, I can get two pepperoni pizzas with extra cheese on one of them for $16.50 from Dominos"
Requester: "Yes, thanks."
It'll just be a matter of time as the automation spreads to less and less mundane topics.
The user confirmation makes sure the automation didn't screw something up, and if the user doesn't responds positively to a certain threshold then humans take over. The threshold can be dynamic depending on accuracy of text recognition.
Can we find out how much it costs, or do we just have to trust that the quoted price for the task isn't too much above actual cost? Or does it not have any service fees? The site is really vague about pricing.
Or a combination of any of above.
As for pricing, perhaps a flat rate per request ($1?) that comes with up to 5 minutes of operator time for free. Then any time past 5 minutes could be billed in 5-minute blocks, perhaps $2 each (base price) and tiered up by order price (I dunno, maybe $3 for $500+, $5 for $2500+, $8 for $15000+). Also, you could charge predefined flat rates for any aspects of the order that can be automated.
Again, the important thing is that you're clear about what you're charging and why.
EDIT: changed suggested prices (redid math)
You have to confirm the price. It sounds like you can decline if you think it's unfair.
"I want X."
"That'll be 22.50 with delivery."
If the price is fair to you, buy it. View this as another store which happens to have everything. Under the hood they run out and subcontract.
I like the one cost quote. Perfect. Things are worth what people will pay for them.
They quote, you either find it's worth it, or not, no worries.
Seems to me, there will be people who value their time low, who will not want to pay so much, and others who will value their time highly and will pay.
Scaling off the latter crowd might be easier to do and capitalize on.
I'm just thinking about requests that ask for a recommendation for a product or a service that won't be purchased right away (like finding a certain kind of restaurant with certain parameters, but not getting food delivered from it, or finding a certain kind of professional service without immediately contracting for it).
Or for that matter factual questions like "Who won the 2014 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature?".
Would this somehow look like "I found 3, and I'll tell you about them for $5, OK?"? Will people be more resistant to paying the fee if the fee is the only item they're paying, rather than bundled with the price of some other transaction?
This needs to be really awesome to be good, really awesome. So awesome people get dependant.
Call Comcast for me and have them configure my Cisco
DPC3939B for bridge mode
Go stand in line at the post office and retrieve
my package with tracking #xxxxxxxx
My iPhone's screen is cracked. Take it to the mall
and get somebody to fix or replace it, whichever's
Bring me some Mongolian BBQ with the following
I would pay _a lot of money_ for that.
Especially for stuff like "Dispatch someone credible-sounding to stand in line and negotiate as my agent with large shitty ossified organization X," where X might be a post office, utility company, embassy, real estate, etc, where their user experience disrepects my time.
The dev who sits next to me has been trying to buy a house for a month, and he spends ~50% of his time on the phone with home inspectors, contractors, the title office and similar, basically telling them trivial facts or participating in silly naggy negotiations where they're basically gambling that he won't push back on the twentieth little crappy line item this week.
This is a super-real pain point.
Is there a reason, besides money, that he isn't using one? I say "besides money", because you said you would pay "a lot of money" for it, so you can clearly afford an agent.
A good buyer's agent can help to some extent, but the mortgage process is the real time sink. If you're a 1099 kind of person and you're not paying cash, your life will pretty much suck for a couple of months.
If he's talking with contractors, he's probably also trying to figure out how to fix it up or modify it. I didn't need to talk with any contractors at all, so I don't know whether or not an agent would have helped.
eg. Zuckerberg's college buddy who fronted the money for early FB servers was sure that "his" attorneys had his back, right up until they stabbed him, because they were paid by Zuckerberg.
Obviously the concept of concierge service isn't new. But getmagicnow.com is based on a brilliant insight: "people don't want to sign up for TaskRabbit or any other website, they just want to text a number". All the details of scaling the service and how it will work out can left for later. Right now they should be patting themselves on the back until their arms get tired.
Normally I tip for pizza delivery, Instacart, etc. Do you make sure that's included for me?
"Shit is just business, String. Buy for a dollar, sell for two. That’s all it need be."
I like fixing things.
But I don't know how to work on cars. So there's that...
Sometimes I don't know enough to diagnose a problem, though, and I take it to my buddy. He usually does the fix and I watch and help a little, but I don't know enough about the whole engine and how it all works together, at this point.
I want to buy a car to take apart and reassemble, but I don't currently have a space I can do that in. Though it just occurred to me I could get a storage unit, probably.
Cust: I want 100 bananas
Magic, to Instacart: how much does 100 bananas cost?
Magic, to customer: Sure! Does $109.19 sound okay to you?
I have no idea how viable this is, but if you could find an effective way to extend this to "we will deal with your suppliers who only work by phone, and charge you for the privilege of not having to make the stupid call yourself" I would be very interested ... but probably useless as a customer, since I'm in the UK. It's just I already pay for fulfillment work and wish I could easily pay for utility company wrangling, and if somebody can validate the model hopefully somebody will do it over here eventually :)
That said, I like the passcode idea. I know that caller ID is easily spoofed, and so I would imagine that the source ID for text messages can be spoofed as well. Requiring the passcode would prevent this sort of attack.
It's not hard to imagine this leading to trouble as soon as you get into the crosshairs of some internet troll who managed to get your mobile number.
I wish the Magic team the best!
It could be valuable to just record all the transactions and how the agents filled them. What the customer asked, what kind of questions the agent asked, did agent Google for the service, what steps did they take on web sites to perform the order etc. If you have this kind of data for thousands of transactions that might have some value for Google, Apple or other companies working to build digital assistants.
For more complex/expensive purchases one added value thing for customer could be that the agent knows how to find a good deal. There's for example a service (or maybe just a forum) where people can post their travel plans and airline ticketing experts compete to provide the best ticket options.
One obvious income source that comes to my mind is affiliate fees and companies paying for you to introduce them for new customers. This is of course also difficult one since customers would like you to recommended the best provider and not the one that pays best affiliate fees.
> We will send you a 128-bit encrypted HTTPS link via SMS that you can click to enter your credit card number. We do not store your credit card number. All payment processing is handled by Stripe.
Also, for something people are wary is a scam, saying "be careful what you wish for" in your first reply is a little bit ominous!
Why not turn this into an excess capacity market where you enable anyone to easily offer this service themselves...especially if they have local insights.
This seems like a good way for anyone to Make a few bucks in their free time.
"Miss Cormet reflected to herself that the prosperity of General Services and her own very substantial income was based largely on the stupidity, lack of resourcefulness, and laziness of persons like this silly parasite"
There is now a profusion of heritage (like http://www.1240.it, http://www.892424.it, etc).
"Want somebody murdered? Then DON'T call General Services. But for anything else, call.... It Pays!"
Q: How do you guarantee that my credit card number is safe and secure?
We will send you a 128-bit encrypted HTTPS link via SMS that you can click to enter your credit card number. We do not store your credit card number. All payment processing is handled by Stripe.
This bit of the FAQ accounted for ~20% of all characters on the page.
> Q: How do you guarantee that my credit card number is safe and secure?
> We will send you a 128-bit encrypted HTTPS link via SMS that you can click to enter your credit card number. We do not store your credit card number. All payment processing is handled by Stripe.
EDIT: I guess this seems redundant now, others have posted the same thing in the time it took me to respond, hah.
They don't handle credit cards at all --- Stripe does. They just get a token.
(Disclaimer: co-founder of Perssist, a tech-enhanced virtual assistant service)
(Disclaimer: I work at Spreedly where we see a lot of these cross merchant/PCI compliant services launching.
I'm curious to see what you'll do to handle exceptional cases. I live in the boonies and am asking for a philly cheesesteak right now.
2. They may just be able to say it's not available and still maintain a positive experience for 99.9% of customers.
3. It doesn't seem like they're charging such a large fee that I expect them to do something crazy for me... I expect value in some proportion to my payment. Amex concierge might get the cheesesteak for a customer who spends 6-figures with them but not 4-figures, for example.
But will it scale?
To me, the obvious value of your business is in being able to train Operators up to the Magic corporate standard. If you can do this while growing the service, you've got a real winner - especially if you put up a web front end to make it possible to become a Magic operator anywhere in the world. I'd be quite happy to do this kind of service work from home - as long as I had the tools to support me, and I think ultimately thats where your real value is going to be - certainly growing the customer base is valuable, too. But being able to train/service Operators who can do the job properly is going to be the key to it all ..
Obviously, I realize they can't, I just wonder how often their answer to the query is "Sorry, we can't do this".
Overall, I think it's a great idea but the fact that it's bottlenecked by humans will make it very, very hard to scale (and you can already see this as the web site has a big banner saying the service is currently restricted due to high demand).
Still, it's clear from the testimonials so far that these guys have their heart in the right place and they really want to achieve maximum user satisfaction. Kudos!
Because they're just using other services to get you what you want.. i.e. flowers, groceries, pizza, etc. - they just call a florist/supermarket/pizza joint/etc. local to the requester.
What examples of requests can you think of that can't be served anywhere in the US?
s/pizza place/supermarkets that deliver/florists that are either currently open for calls or have a website/etc
"...but there is one in the town 80 miles away, so your pizza will be $95".
"Would you like to go ahead with that order?"
Not to mention that while the service might be Magic, pizza bags aren't, and a pizza that takes over an hour to get to you isn't going to be hot. I don't think "here's a ridiculously expensive, late, cold pizza" answers the spirit of "I'd like a pizza".
It does for someone in a town that doesn't have pizza.
And if you think that's good enough (consumers won't), then just change the request to "I'd like a hot pizza in the next hour, because I'm hungry now and have an appointment".
Magic will do the best they can for whatever price they can. If the consumer doesn't like it, they won't order the thing. No big deal. If it turns out that the vast majority of people are not satisfied with what Magic offers, then Magic won't be a success - just like the other ten million business out there trying to get a foot hold. In all honesty we know the very vast majority of people live in places where (for a fee) Magic will be able to do some neat stuff. Who cares about the people that live in towns with no pizza.
> And if you think that's good enough (consumers won't)
A consumer in a town that doesn't have pizza is going to be disappointed they asked a service to deliver pizza and that service said "We can do that" ?
> "I'd like a hot pizza in the next hour, because I'm hungry now and have an appointment".
And Magic will say, "Sorry, no can do".
Consumers can't get everything they want now for the price they want. Stores turn people away all the time for requests that are impossible. Magic won't be doing anything new with regard to that.
Don't talk down to me when you eventually end up answering your own question the same way I did.
This is an ancient business model for customer service, so I guess I'm confused where you're going with this...
Isn't that the fundamental question all business must face? When the first McDonald's opens in a town do they worry and say "How on earth will we meet the demand of the WHOLE town?"
Problems like that are good to have.
For someone who gets really overwhelmed by too many texts, this seems like a lot of back and forth compared to just googling to find the number of the restaurant and ordering.
Just a thought for when this begins to scale: vetting of the people ordering the stuff. They will have names, email, delivery address and an idea of the income level/lifestyle of the person ordering. I'm assuming credit card details are on a payment system and not available to the people handing the requests.
PS: any customers complained about what they got yet?
Also, they're using a Stripe account managed by this company: https://bettir.com
One little nitpick: the blue chat bubbles on the site gave me the impression you'd be using iMessage for supported phones instead of SMS. (This matters to me just a bit because I have a limited number of SMSes per month.) I totally get why you would just stick to SMS.
Still happy to use your service, but it did create just the tiniest bit of initial dissapointment.
A blog post after all of it cools down would be a fun read. :)
I assume bitcoin is going through Stripe as well, though if not, that money could come to Magic more quickly. The problem then is that the vendors likely don't accept bitcoin...
Maybe the very cheap design discredit the whole project.
Why does this one attract so much attention?
Good work guys, and I agree with everything that everyone else said about the simplicity of your landing page, and the controversial design decision to actually communicate information.
Congrats on being so successful so far, but my advice would be to sell out before the investors loose interest!
- people using the service just to figure out the price of something (and then declining)?
- people not being happy with what they got delivered (perhaps rightfully so), and wanting their money back?
Still, looks like a very nice idea, might try it if I ever need something :)
How would they respond to this? Their own meta-service?
Where do you draw the line on "anything"?
Also, this whole thing is April Fool's joke, right?
If you are lokking for some jack of all trade to help you , or looking for some one in france.
I'am in ...
Btw good luck.
Bussiere AT gmail.com
And plastic cash isn't as prelevant in India as it is in the western world. You wouldn't really miss out on anything because of 2FA imposed by RBI.
Good job on seeing it.
"Q: Where is Magic available?
Anywhere in the US."
now you can safely order food to be delivered when driving home. or laundry pickup, or whatever.
"siri, text magic, i want a large pepperoni pizza delivered to my home in 1 hour."
The FCC has been cracking down on the use of long codes in marketing. Not sure about an app like your's though... But you probably should move to a short code anyway.
There are also very strong requirements for how opting in, opting out, etc works.
When you guys get slammed with fraud, give me a shout.
Boom! there goes every single bit of something resembling "privacy" you had. Magic.