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.