LINCOLN PARK — A Lincoln Park-based startup is asking the question: How much is your time worth?
The founder behind ShopRock.it figures for many people, it's worth more than the hassle of running to grab some diapers, a set of spare batteries or a last-minute gift.
ShopRock.it is a form of outsourced shopping, and will fill any order the same day, as long as its placed before 4 p.m.
Listen to Paul Biasco talk about ShopRock.it on DNAinfo Radio:
The idea to start the company came to Anjoo Rai-Marchant about two years ago as she and her husband were both working long hours and had two young children.
Rai-Marchant wanted to spend time with her kids when she got home.
"If you've got children and are trying to run from store to store with two children in tow in the middle of Chicago, it's a nightmare," she said.
Add to that, Chicago's long and brutal winter, and Rai-Marchant says people are willing to pay the average cost of $12 to $15 to have their to-do list completed for them.
"We had this finite amount of time to spend with our children," she said. "I thought we need a bottle brush cleaner or I need Orajel because my son started teething. These silly things that show up the same day."
The Web-based service launched in early 2014 in a test market along lakeshore high rises near downtown and has since expanded to cover the "core" area encompassing Downtown, Lincoln Park, River North, Old Town the West Loop and South Loop.
On Super Bowl Sunday, ShopRock.it received an order just after noon with a specific request: a youth jersey of Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks starting quarterback.
The jersey was delivered to the customer's front door before the start of the game.
In another case, a woman wanted a hair-straightening iron before heading out of town.
A ShopRock.it employee contacted her from the store with two options and their prices, and had the item delivered.
The price model is based on a base fee plus distance traveled and the number of stops required.
In the company's short history, three groups of customers have emerged: small businesses, professional men and women, and students without mobility.
Rai-Marchant said that's because a small startup with four programmers and without an office manager, for example, often doesn't want to send one of its employees out for an hour to pick up some basic office supplies.
Rai-Marchant, 43, spent over 10 years at Ernst & Young, previously worked in Silicon Valley and was most recently the CIO at Reyes Holdings.
She said she hopes ShopRock.it can remove the mental burden of errands that must be done after work.
"The thought of taking two children, bundling them up, going to the store, unbundling them, buying what I need, rebundling them, getting in the car and coming back home and unbundling them, that's a lot of mental work," she said.
The company attempts to purchase locally from stores like Armitage Hardware and Fleet Feet sports when possible and is currently in negotiations to be a same-day delivery service for a number of local shops.
"The stuff we are talking about is not exciting shopping," Rai-Marchant said. "This is life errands, and how exciting is running errands?"