GoButler is launching its text-based personal assistant out of beta today, and is announcing an $8 million series A.
GoButler is “like an Amazon for the on-demand world,” said CEO Navid Hadzaad. The free service utilizes existing on-demand apps and ecommerce sites like Uber, Seamless, and Expedia so you can get you whatever you want just by sending a text to one of GoButler’s personal assistants (called “heroes”).
Heroes can help clients book a flight or hotel, get concert tickets, order food for delivery, make dinner reservations, and shop. Users can also ask their personal assistant for information about traffic and weather, or for a good joke.
The service is SMS-based, meaning you can simply text a number rather than having to download another app.
In general, GoButler is designed to require very little of its customers. The service essentially acts as a middleman, placing an order on your behalf. Users only have to add address and payment information at the first point of purchase. So if you never ask GoButler to buy something for you, you’ll never have to enter your credit card information. And if you do make purchases through GoButler, you’ll only have to input your credit card information once.
That information gets attached to your profile card, which also lists your past orders as well as your preferences. The idea is that your GoButler personal assistant will get to know you, even though you’ll likely be dealing with a different hero every time you text.
To give customers that personalized experience, GoButler has made big investments in its staff. The company supports a team of 120 heroes. Though GoButler relies on data to determine how heroes deliver on requests, it needs people with a background in hospitality who can make a connection with customers.
“We can improve AI as much as we want, at the end of the day we’ll never be able to eliminate the human touch,” said Hadzaad. Humanity is an important characteristic for a personal assistant, he said, especially when a request requires a more conversational response.
If you’re thinking you’ve heard this before — the promise of having anything delivered to you with a simple text — you have. Earlier this year, a service called Magic reportedly raised $12 million for the exact same service. The difference, mainly, is that Magic charged users a fee and GoButler doesn’t. Rather than making users pay up, GoButler collects a commission on sales from the services it hooks into.
GoButler launched earlier this year in Europe and has accrued 100,000 beta users. Already the service is available in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. This round of funding will help it expand to more users in the areas where it already exists, predominantly through a marketing campaign.
The company also has plans to eventually build an app. An app would let users hook up their own personal accounts to GoButler, so they can garner rewards with services that have loyalty programs. For instance, users who book a lot of flights could use GoButler and still accrue frequent flyer miles. For now there’s no timeline on when GoButler may roll out an app.
General Catalyst Partners led this most recent round. Lakestar, Global Founders Capital, Slow Ventures, BoxGroup, Sound Ventures, and Cherry Ventures also contributed.