Agent Anything launched just over 3 months ago. Harry Schiff and his partner Oliver Green run the company with just a couple of interns. Oliver is CTO/Lead Developer and Harry is CEO/Marketing/Accounting/Financing.
Mike: Before we talk about your domain name, your service is quite unique. It’s basically a way to offer any assignment, errand or task you want done or pick up any assignment available. I know I’m not doing it justice, how would you explain it?
Harry: Well, it’s a pretty simple concept, and you’ve got half of it down pat, but you are missing a very important part. The old model for businesses was: Company to Client, but the future is all about Person to Person, or Peer to Peer, with the Company playing a minor background role.
Our take on this new model is Client to Agent. Clients are the people who need things done, but don’t have enough free time (who does?). Agents are university students – they’ve got all kinds of free time, but what student couldn’t use a couple of extra bucks? The needs are there, and the resources to meet those needs are all there! We’re just a platform; we just help these people come together and exchange what they have for what they need on an open, entirely free market.
Mike: Could this include things in the virtual space, like web design or graphic design?
Harry: Absolutely. We’ve had people get perfect translations of documents from international students, we’ve had computer-science majors work on websites, and we’ve helped small businesses with their accounting and other spreadsheet work on Excel. Research has also been pretty big, from personal research like “Find me a cheap parking garage on the Upper West Side” and “Find me a vacation condo with this many bedrooms on these dates at this price” to business research like “Make me a list of companies who … in New York.”
Mike: agentanything.com is an accurate, brandable domain for this service. How did you come up with the concept and how did you come up with the domain to fit it?
Harry: Well, like I said, the concept really isn’t that complicated. Who hasn’t thought to themselves at one point or another, “I would pay someone $10 to … for me,” or (on a different day) “I would do that for $10,”? Let me put it this way: it took a whole lot more time coming up with the name.
The trouble with names is that there’s so many ways to go wrong. A lot of people were telling us to come up with a two word name – one to describe what we did, and then some kind of animal or something for the logo. You know, ErrandHound or something like that. There’s a couple of problems with that though: 1) It was really hard for us to find one word that summed-up what we did. “Errand” doesn’t even scratch the surface of the range of services we offer (plus, it’s not a very cool word). 2) We thought the animal thing was pretty lame.
Then, we had a great idea. People who provide services are called Agents – travel agents book your trips, real estate agents sell your house, customer service agents answer your questions, etc. That, and being an Agent is awesome (who wants to be an errand hound?). From there, it just made sense, our Agents can do anything – Agent Anything.
Mike: Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?
Harry: We’ve only been around three months, so obviously the numbers are constantly changing.
Mike: Do you have any online marketing strategies that you follow (google ads, seo, banners on other sites, etc.?) Have you thought about assigning out your marketing on your own site?
Harry: We do a little bit, Adwords is one and there are a couple of others, but we’re not just a new company, we’re a whole new industry, so we’re not expecting to see a lot of results from keyword searches. Until recently, people haven’t even thought about outsourcing their extra work, but it’s not because people don’t need help (how many people do you know who have “plenty of free time;” it’s just that there’s been no one to go to. That’s not entirely true, there were some companies, like concierge and personal assistant services, but those are really expensive. We focus a lot more energy on getting in front of people when they’re not necessarily looking for us.
As for ads on our own site, we’ve got no plans for that right now. Design has been really important to us from the beginning; we want the site to be as simple and intuitive as possible, so we don’t have anything on there that isn’t absolutely necessary and useful to our Clients and Agents.
Mike: Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?
Harry: This is a really big decision; not only could choosing the right name be one of your most crucial marketing moves, but it could also be your cheapest! Don’t waste that opportunity. Yes, lots of companies have succeeded despite their names, but a good name can do more for you than any individual ad campaign. Plus, rebranding later can be really expensive and time-consuming; take the time and get it right the first time.
Mike: Any other information you’d like to share?
Harry: Yes. If you check out the site and you see something you don’t like, or don’t see something that you would like, TELL US! We love negative feedback. We don’t want to be right, we want to be useful.