Zirtual has opened up to the public, allowing anyone to hire virtual assistants. The startup has also launched a new Zirtual Now feature that offers 24/7/365 access to its labor pool for an extra charge.
Plans range from $99-$749 a month, depending on whether you want a dedicated assistant and how much support you need. Sample tasks include booking travel, conducting research, proofreading, and sending flowers and cards to your contacts.
The company had previously been in invite-only beta for the past three years.
Zirtual assistants are based in the US and work normal business hours. During off-hours, members can pay extra to get immediate assistance from Zirtual Now’s standby team.
CEO Maren Kate Donovan said in an interview that she founded the company partly to fulfill her own need for an assistant. She had tried to source help from Elance and Craigslist, but was unhappy with inconsistent results. Donovan said she also wanted to be proactive about the “mounting employment problem.”
After spending the past few years preparing its infrastructure and staff, Zirtual is finally ready to focus on scale.
“It’s gotten to the point where we’ve grown enough, and we really want to start scaling up this year and become a truly influential company and the leader in the virtual assistant space,” Donovan said. “The first few thousand [clients], taught us a lot about their needs. We’re ready to…offer it to more people, create more jobs.”
Zirtual has hosted over 500,000 tasks on its platform. It boasts “hundreds and hundreds” of independent contractor assistants and “thousands” of clients.
While Donovan set out to help the job market, Zirtual could potentially reduce the overall number of executive assistant jobs, since it’s meant to save clients money by efficiently consolidating roles. According to Donovan, that’s a good thing, as it shifts jobs to demographics like young moms and people trying to support themselves out of school.
Following the launch, Zirtual plans to work on making its integration more seamless. The startup plans to leverage the knowledge and scale of its assistants in order to find better deals. You can also look forward to specialized services from Zirtual that will tap the expert skills of its partners. That way, assistants could offer more complicated tasks like translation and bookkeeping at a premium.
“We don’t do the kind of race to the bottom that a lot of crowdsourcing companies do,” Donovan said. “What we focus on is offering quality and a real relationship not only with the assistant but with the company itself.”
The Zirtual clients that I know speak of the service as life-changing. Those of us that have been curious what the fuss is all about can finally sign up and see for ourselves.
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