Marcela Sapone and Jessica Beck: How Batman’s Butler Inspired a Startup

July 14 - On The Dot
It’s a great day to be a woman! Melinda Garvey here as your voice, with the mission to give women everywhere a place to be heard and tell their stories. We’d love to hear from you!

FIRST THOUGHT: Buying More Time For Happiness

If you could ditch one part of your daily or weekly routine, what would it be? If you could add one thing that makes you happy to your daily or weekly routine, what would that be?

When I was a kid, I thought being a grown-up had a lot of perks: Grown-ups could eat what they wanted and go where they wanted when they wanted. I didn’t see the chore-filled side of adulthood, like doing the dishes or taking out the trash or even figuring out what’s for dinner.

We can’t give up every chore that makes us groan, but maybe we can figure out a way to make them annoy us a little bit less so we can buy more time for happiness.

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 24, 23, 22 …

Some women probably aren’t finding happiness because they aren’t getting the most out of their careers. According to Fortune Magazine, female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are dropping one by one. In 2014, there were 24. In 2015, there were 23. And now, there are only 22 women running Fortune 500 companies.

That’s a real downer, but there’s hope in the emergence of female-led startups. Today’s Women to Watch will give you renewed hope that women are indeed taking on leadership roles in business. They’re just starting it all from the ground up.

WOMEN TO WATCH: Marcela Sapone and Jessica Beck, Co-founders of Hello Alfred

I don’t know how many times I’ve pushed my way through a crowded grocery store or let my pile of dirty clothes grow a little too tall, and thought what I’d give to have someone do this for me. It turns out, there is someone who’ll polish off all your chores.

During arduous coursework at Harvard Business School, Marcela Sapone and Jessica Beck didn’t have time to keep their apartments clean. Been there, ladies. So, they hired someone from Craigslist to come to their apartments weekly and handle those essential yet time-consuming chores and errands, like doing laundry and grocery shopping.

They knew they weren’t the only ones who needed this extra help, so Sapone and Beck slipped postcards under the doors in their Boston neighborhood advertising this service. Ten people signed up, and these clever women saw a big business opportunity. But in the meantime, they either hired employees through Craigslist or did the chores themselves for clients of their burgeoning company.

In 2013, Sapone and Beck officially launched their business, Hello Alfred, inspired by the name and duties of Batman’s butler. Hello Alfred was an instant hit with time-crunched customers. Before long, Forbes named Sapone one of its 30 Under 30 for Consumer Tech. In September 2014, Sapone and Beck became the first all-female team to win TechCrunch Disrupt’s Startup Battlefield competition. That gave Hello Alfred the push to get 10,000 signups and gain $2 million in seed funding. Sapone and Beck decided to launch Hello Alfred in the Big Apple and moved the company there.

Sapone and Beck are picky about the “Alfreds” they employ, vetting them at length, bringing them on as employees, not contract workers, and training them extensively before they provide their services within customers’ homes. Still, only about 6 percent of applicants make the cut.

Next up, services will be available in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Hello Alfred continues to gain popularity with customers who value the luxury of a little extra help with chores and errands—without a luxe price tag. Indeed, Hello Alfred’s 30,000-customer waitlist proves the service is in high demand. After all, extra help equals extra time, and extra time equals freedom. Who doesn’t want that?


And speaking of extra time, I’ll leave you with this quote by Benjamin Franklin. He said:

“Lost time is never found again.”

That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.

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