Grad Profiles highlight the personal and professional stories of Founder Institute Graduates from across the globe.
This profile on Zirtual, a Graduate of the Silicon Valley Founder Institute, was written by Emma Tzeng. Founded in 2011 by Maren Kate Donovan, Zirtual hires and enlists the services of virtual assistants.
We’ve all heard enough yammer about the Internet making our world a more globally connected place. What often goes unsaid, however, are the consequences of such interconnectivity: information travels like wildfire, generating the perception that we can never quite learn enough and transforming multitasking into a required skill for survival rather than a rare asset.
But what if multitasking didn’t cut it? What if your to-do list seemed to always stretch on for miles and miles, causing you to lose sleep and at times, question your own sanity?
San Francisco-based startup Zirtual wants to help busy people maximize productivity and create a little more flexibility in their lives by offering the services of college-educated virtual assistants from across the United States.
Conceived in 2011 by Maren Kate Donovan, Zirtual serves both its clients and its employees by enabling clients to get more done with the help of an assistant and providing employment and job flexibility to its assistants. It sets itself apart from possible competitors through its “epic customer service,” as Donovan coins it.
“This is a customer service centric business,” Donovan explains in an interview. “If we can provide absolutely out-of-the-world value to our customers and make them feel good about the experience while we’re at it, we’ll always have a solid base.”
The idea for Zirtual began in Donovan’s college years when she ran her own online business which sold jewelry imported from Thailand. Having a virtual assistant was an integral part of Donovan’s enterprise; and soon after, as she wrote about it on her blog and saw the positive responses it generated, it became apparent that a market existed for virtual help.
To ensure consistency, Zirtual only hires U.S.-based assistants that are either on their way to obtaining a college degree or who already hold one. Zirtual also does quality-control for its assistants by requiring all hires to complete an extensive training program before they are assigned their first task.
Zirtual users pay by the month and have the option to choose from three different plans depending on individual needs. The most basic plan, which is capped at $97 a month, allows users to make 15 requests per month at a 15-minute time limit per task and receive email support and next day turnaround. On the other hand, the most extensive plan, priced at $497 a month, includes unlimited requests, heavy scheduling, a vanity email address for the assistant, priority turnaround, recurring tasks, and a 60-minute time limit for tasks. Zirtual Assistants are available from 9:00 to 6:00 PM each day and trained to complete nearly any personal task online, from scheduling to online research.
In addition to benefiting customers by maximizing their time, Zirtual also helps its assistants achieve a more flexible lifestyle by providing the option to work remotely. By ensuring that both ends of the business receive the attention and care they deserve, Zirtual proves itself as a true benefactor of excellent customer service.
Thanks to Zirtual, our lives can be a little less cluttered and more about tackling the tasks that truly matter.
Learn more about Zirtual: