Leah Busque Solivan has 15 years’ experience building and creating technology products that have reached millions of people around the globe. She started her career at IBM as a software engineer in the Software Group, working on Lotus Notes and Domino. In 2008 Busque founded TaskRabbit, the leading on-demand service marketplace in the world. She served as the CEO for eight years and now is the executive chairwoman of the company.
A vision for revolutionizing the way people work led Busque to pioneer the concept of “service networking.” Her passion for product innovation and devotion to user experience have propelled TaskRabbit into a leading role in the collaborative consumption movement. Busque has expanded the company internationally, raised nearly $50 million in venture funding from venerated investors like Shasta Ventures, Lightspeed Ventures, and Founders Fund, and inspired legions of startups to launch in the collaborative and service networking space. Fast Company named her one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business,” and her achievements have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Wired, and Time. Under her leadership, TaskRabbit has gathered accolades including being named “The Next Big Thing in Tech” by The New York Times.
In 2014 Busque was inaugurated into the Forum of Young Global Leaders, a prestigious group of less than 1000 people around the globe recognized for their bold, brave, action-oriented entrepreneurial ventures. The arts and creating opportunities for women in technology are important to her and she also serves on the Board of the Silicon Valley Ballet and enjoys speaking engagements for organizations such as Girls Who Code and Tina Brown’s Women In the World Summit.
Buque resides in the Bay Area of California with her husband, two children, and highly energetic black labrador retriever. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Sweet Briar College, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Computer Science. She served on the Board of Directors from 2001-2003 and recently rejoined the board in 2015.
The Sharing Economy and The Future of Work
Mom always told us not to talk to strangers, but are there really any strangers today? Five years ago it was unthinkable to flag down a random car and hop in for a ride, but today, with the use of technology, we don’t hesitate in sharing rides with people we don’t know. We are willing to hire a handyman through an app, such as TaskRabbit, and we are renting out rooms in our own houses to people we’ve never met before. How did the sharing economy begin and what will it evolve to next? In this dynamic speech, Busque will share her story of starting TaskRabbit and why 2008 was a pinnacle for the beginning of the sharing economy. Over the last 8 years, this new trend has evolved into mainstream adoption and continues to grow and scale in new ways that are changing the future of work. Busque will explore how businesses, large and small, will need to evolve to support this new fragmented workforce, and how, despite the skeptics, providing more flexibility and entrepreneurship in our work environments will drive innovation, support diversity, and ultimately translate to stronger, longer lasting companies.
Entrepreneurship: From Engineer to Entrepreneur, 5 Lessons Learned
After 8 years as a software engineer at IBM, Busque quit her job to found TaskRabbit. With no prior business experience, no MBA, and by withdrawing $20,000 from her IBM pension account, it was a cold winter night when she had the idea for founding TaskRabbit. After bootstrapping the company for 18 months, maxing out credit cards, and building the business from the ground up, Busque was able to raise over $50 million dollars in venture funding, expand the company internationally, and propel TaskRabbit as a leader of the sharing economy movement. There were many lessons learned along the way, and in this dynamic speech, Busque will share five important lessons that changed the game for her life and her business. From having “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” to discovering ideas, instead of inventing them, Busque will explore how anyone can be entrepreneurial and drive innovation for their team, business, or organization, ultimately achieving greater happiness for themselves and truly loving what they do.
Women in Technology: Invest in Our Girls Early and Bridge the Gap Now
We constantly hear about the “pipeline problem” of women in the technology industry. Companies want to hire more women and drive more diversity, but they say they struggle in finding qualified candidates. Is the pipeline problem real and how can we better prepare our girls and young women for careers in the technology industry? Busque will share her experiences from how her eight year old self learned about what a CEO does, to having strong female mentors and role models throughout pivotal educational years, to quitting her job at IBM to found TaskRabbit – a pioneer of the sharing economy movement. Her experiences as a speaker for Girls Who Code, mentor for Girls in Tech, and board Trustee for Sweet Briar College have shaped her perspective on bridging the gap for women in technology. As we strive to increase diversity in the pipeline, Busque will also share how companies can start finding qualified diverse candidates today, by increasing their focus on culture building, investing in diversity and inclusion programs, and working with untraditional recruiting resources to fill the gap immediately. The audience will be left motivated, inspired, and with new tools at the ready to drive diversity for their organization.
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