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Monday, 10 January 2011

The Wharf Newspaper (6th Jan., 2011)

Errands firm finds gap in the convenience market

By Kay Lockett on January 10, 2011 10:33 AM |
Ever wished you could be in two places at the same time? Need to pick up the dry-cleaning or get a key cut?
Oga Obianyor started her company two years ago with the aim of capitalising on busy workers who find themselves without the time to do such things themselves.
Based at the Waterfront Studios Business Centre in Victoria Docks, Errands Plus provides services to individuals and businesses.
The firm's most popular errands include picking up the dry-cleaning, waiting at home for workmen, picking up reserved items from shops, submitting passport applications and collecting visas. Very often they are asked to cut spare keys, do grocery shopping and run errands for sick relatives too.
However, there's no specific range of services and the company is happy to tackle any task.
Ms Obianyor said: "A lot of the time we are called upon at the last minute to save the day.

"Our service is perfect for those unplanned events. However a good number of people also know that it's simpler and more rewarding for them to not try to do everything by themselves, and they rely on us.
"We have run all kinds of errands. Over the summer, we stood in the long queue at the Excel centre for an X-Factor hopeful who had to fly in from the USA on the day of the auditions.
"We were there from 5.30am in the pouring rain and cold until she showed up at around 1pm.
"For all those hours, the runner mucked in like one of the contestants and made friends and even rehearsed with others while in the queue. They were shocked to later find that she was not even a contestant."
Ms Obianyor set up Errands Plus Ltd shortly after completing a masters degree in sustainability at University College, London.
She said: "I was fresh out of school, excited and really driven and even though we were in the middle of a recession, I knew it was the perfect time to launch my vision.
"I had been researching the concept of errand running and lifestyle management for a few years by this time, and through market research observed a gap in the London market that only our business model could fill. Other companies provide a wide range of concierge and lifestyle services, but we simply run errands.
"It was frustrating to find that the companies who provided such services usually expected people to sign up to long contracts or pay joining and membership fees.
"It was then I decided to develop a business model for running errands in a smart and uncomplicated way. People can use our service whenever time is short, on a pay-as-you-go basis with no joining, membership or hourly fees.
"My passion for organising things, running errands and helping busy people to save time was developed when I worked as an executive assistant to the MD of an international bank. My role covered PR, events, travel logistics and diary management for the bank's board members and senior management staff.
"It was such a high pressure role that in a typical day I could co-ordinate meetings, liaise with officials from three different countries, plan a birthday party, source rare gift items and make impromptu speeches."
Ms Obianyor says that clients call upon her services when they find they cannot be in two places at once. She said she made sure that delegating errands was easy and convenient through the company's website, which gives instant quotes for errands and allows for secure payments.
She said: "A client called us to buy a car seat and take it to the hospital for taking the new baby home with them. We also got a call to go take trash bags outside for the bin men because the client could not return home on time to do it himself.
"Over Halloween we had a few requests from Massachusetts, USA and Canada for the special edition Cadbury Screme Eggs because they did not have them over there.
"The USA errands are usually very interesting - last Christmas a prestigious US law firm asked that we distribute umbrellas as souvenirs to its UK clients around EC1, but insisted that the distribution must happen on a very rainy day."

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