TL; DR: GetFriday’s virtual assistants are available to tackle a range of tasks so individuals and organizations can focus on their high-priority missions. The India-based team will complete any assignment that does not necessitate a physical presence, from making household payments to business, bookkeeping, marketing, and web solutions. With a future focus on providing web support to small businesses, GetFriday continuously aims to widen the spectrum of services it offers customers worldwide.
When American Esquire editor A.J. Jacobs caught wind in 2005 of Sunder Prakasham’s startup, YourManIndia (YMII) — then an India-based concierge service helping Indian expatriates handle lingering tasks in their home country — he emailed the company with an unusual proposal to outsource his personal tasks virtually from the U.S. to India.
“It started as an experiment,” Sunder told us. “He tested the limits of our business by challenging us to outsource a birthday party for his wife in New York to our team in India.”
At the time, Sunder’s company only served Indian expats, but his team rose to the occasion nonetheless — finding a venue, organizing invitations, managing RSVPs, and buying gifts, among other party-planning duties. All tasks were accomplished in New York City.
But that wasn’t all. The team also navigated a number of outlandish requests, such as one to read a 2-year-old a Dr. Seuss bedtime story from across the globe. The result was one that many bleary-eyed parents struggle to achieve: The child fell peacefully asleep.
In addition to the Esquire article, several publications and news channels reported on the experiment, including “Good Morning America.” Sunder and his team scrambled to launch a new virtual assistant service, and GetFriday was born.
Today, the virtual assistance company helps individuals and organizations across the globe check a wide range of tasks off their to-do lists, from booking flights to specialized business, bookkeeping, marketing, and web solutions. With a future focus on providing web support for small businesses, GetFriday plans to broaden its portfolio of solutions as much as possible — with the ultimate mission of making its customers’ lives just a little bit easier.
Tackling a Spectrum of Tasks for Individuals and Organizations Worldwide
Sunder said that the initial media coverage GetFriday received spurred growth. But in 2007, the company achieved a significant breakthrough when entrepreneur, author, and podcaster Tim Ferriss approached Sunder, asking for information on how entrepreneurs and small businesses can efficiently outsource their responsibilities.
“We ended up doing another pilot with him, and he devoted an entire chapter to it in his book, ‘The 4-Hour Workweek,’” he said. “That sort of opened the floodgates for us. We had a four-week waiting period at that point in time.”
Virtual assistants aren’t a commodity that you manufacture and put on a shelf — they’re real people who need to be trained on the procedural aspects of the job, as well as cultural sensitivity. Thus, Sunder said the business was difficult to scale at first. But now, the company’s robust customer relationship management platform (CRM) is so information-rich that it has streamlined the entire system.
“Things became much more predictable,” he said. “Now, we serve customers across the U.S., Europe, and the Far East, which includes Australia, Hong Kong, and Japan.”
Each customer is matched with a primary virtual assistant within one day of completing the signup process via an introduction email with the assistant’s details. Customers are welcome, if they desire, to interview the assistant before assigning tasks.
“It doesn’t matter if your assistant is having a sick day or even happens to quit,” Sunder said. “We have backup assistants for each customer and a very well-structured knowledge base that makes it easy to migrate to a new assistant when needed.”
Specialized Bookkeeping, Marketing, Web, and Business Services
To support each virtual personal assistant on complex tasks, GetFriday has professional teams working behind the scenes who specialize in areas like website development, accounting, bookkeeping, market research, content writing, social media management, and digital marketing.
“Your primary personal assistant may not be great at, say, Photoshop, so we have a backend team that will complete that work,” Sunder said. “But as a customer, you will only have to work with one point of contact (your primary assistant), who will assign tasks to these teams and get the finished product back to you.”
In addition to specialized jobs, GetFriday’s assistants also help users offload mundane tasks so they can spend time with their loved ones or focus on high-priority business objectives.
No mission is too big or small: Assistants will help with family errands, such as searching for the best schools, event planning, formatting/editing family pictures, or creating electronic birthday and holiday cards. They can also do things like arrange visits from plumbers and electricians, set up dry cleaning services, and order home appliances.
Going on a trip? Your assistant can be your vacation planner, book flights, prepare the itinerary, reserve a hotel room, and make transportation arrangements from the airport to the hotel, among other duties. The developers behind Siri, Alexa, and the Google Assistant may say these types of actions can be done through voice-activated software, but nothing comes close to the personalized service a human being can deliver.
It should be noted, however, that GetFriday’s virtual personal assistants will not participate in any illegal, unethical, or uncomfortable activities, such as taking online exams, creating fake social media accounts to improve SEO, or impersonating someone else.
Focus on Your Business Missions, Rather than Mundane Tasks
On the business side, GetFriday provides expert support on a number of business-related processes across industries, especially for SMBs and startups, through a sub-brand known as GetFridayAce.
“If you’re working to grow your business, you should have the time to focus on innovation, not dirty jobs like sending invoices and following up on payments,” Sunder said. “So offload what you don’t like to handle, what you aren’t good at, or what you simply don’t have the time to do.”
If the testimonials on the GetFriday website are any indication of the company’s quality of service, its outlook is undeniably bright.
“I have been using GetFriday for almost 6 months now and I’m very happy about the services they provide,” said Yan Knudtskov, Owner of Yan & Co., a Danish web agency in Copenhagen, in a review on the GetFriday website. “They are great at communicating, kind and caring, and put a smile on my face. GetFriday gives me the feeling that they are part of my company, and the quality of service is excellent. They are quick to learn and always take care of assignments with a smile. I can warmly recommend GetFriday to anyone who needs personal assistant services.”
A Focus on Web Support Services for Small Businesses
In addition to personal and business-related solutions, GetFriday’s web support solutions help entrepreneurs and SMBs build and maintain an online presence.
To that end, the company specializes in HTML websites, ecommerce platforms, CRMs, content management systems, software testing, graphic design, and database administration.
“In the future, we plan to devote even more focus to certain website support services for small businesses,” Sunder said. “Typically, small business owners hire a web company to create their site, but when it comes to updates and maintenance, they are no longer around. We want to manage the entire process for customers.”
Internally, GetFriday is working on a platform that will allow the company to hire virtual assistants from around the globe.
“Right now, all of our employees work from a centralized location in Bangalore, India,” Sunder said. “However, we are building a talent-based platform that will give us tight control over our virtual assistant services while allowing us to onboard more employees based to work from anywhere based on the skill sets our customers want.”