Running a business and just don’t have time to do smaller administrative tasks? There’s a startup for that.
Launched in January, Nigerian startup Independent Personal Assistant (iPA) is a virtual assistant agency that provides administrative and creative support to busy entrepreneurs, professionals and executives.
Clients make requests through the site, detailing the tasks they need performing. iPA then takes on these tasks for an agreed rate. Founder Ibukun Akinnawo has experience of this space and spotted a gap in the market.
“I know a lot of people who work 9-5 and run their personal businesses on the side in Nigeria,” she told Disrupt Africa.
“Because of their crazy schedules they don’t really have the time to give their own businesses the attention they need to grow. I worked as someone’s virtual assistant for most of 2015 and saw that there was a huge market and demand for admin support staff.”
Launched initially on the side of a full-time job by Akinnawo, iPA is self-funded thus far, with all the revenue made so far being put back into optimising its services.
She says profits so far have been encouraging, with the startup so far having had five clients with a variety of requests.
“We have one rolling month client at the moment and a few others we’re speaking with. The feedback has been encouraging. Every day is a busy one and there’s no sign of slowing down anytime soon,” she said.
All of this has been achieved through word-of-mouth and referrals so far. Growth is the name of the game.
“We’re definitely looking to expand. Our long term goal is to build an army of efficient assistants and buy a convenient location,” Akinnawo said, with the Yaba area of Lagos the preference.
Popular client requests are varied, and include email management, calendar management, content writing, preparing presentations, and managing social media accounts.
With all that in mind, Akinnawo says it is a challenge finding capable individuals to execute these tasks, though the size of the team is gradually growing.
“In our first month of operations, I hired an assistant because they looked good on paper but they ended up costing me a client,” she said.
“People tend to think being an assistant is basic work and they can get away with being sloppy. But it’s quite the opposite. Being an assistant is lot of work and requires attention to detail. Now that we’re recruiting, that’s one thing we’re definitely looking out for in applicants. We also have a Virtual Assistant Training Course in the works all new teammates have to go through.”
iPA is on the lookout for investors, but Akinnawo says for the time being she is more focused on ensuring the startup has the basics right and is providing exactly what clients need.
“A solid foundation is something we want to build and focus on right now before pitching to investors for funding.”