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“Virtual Assistants Wanted” – Venture Capital Fuels Trend
By Christine Durst & Michael Haaren
Jan. 17, 2013
Virtual assistants, who provide administrative support remotely, have
been around since the 1990s. But now venture capital is boosting the
trend, creating more opportunities for job seekers with administrative
Here’s the story.
Background: Office Support Meets the Cloud
In the early 1990s, co-columnist Chris (who is credited with founding
the virtual assistant industry) began offering administrative support
from her home office to a distant client via the Internet. In 1999, the
two of us founded the International Virtual Assistants Association
industry’s first professional association, at IVAA.org), and
turned it over to its members as planned at its launch.
The “VA” movement soon spread to Canada, the UK, Australia
and beyond, boosted by Skype and other distance-closing tools. Often,
VAs were independent businesspeople, working for their own account.
Now, companies also hire large numbers of VAs and provide their
services to a variety of customers, from CEOs to Realtors to
consultants and other busy professionals.
VAs also handle a broad array of tasks, ranging from basic word
processing to concierge assignments and “personal
Zirtual Ramps Up
In the venture-capital development, VA provider Zirtual.com just
received $2 million in funding from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, the Mayfield
Fund and others. Zirtual has reportedly hired 100-plus VAs and
continues to accept applications from all states except (for the time
For more on Zirtual’s operations and funding, see
http://tinyurl.com/agqz9aq. For Zirtual’s own details on
“Zirtual Assistants,” go to http://team.zirtual.com.
In terms of pay, the VAs at Zirtual reportedly keep 50 per cent of what
they bill, though hourly rates haven’t yet been confirmed. VAs
running their own businesses can earn $25 per hour and more, depending
on their specialty. (One independent VA we know billed over $10,000 in
one month, though the tally of hours was quite high.)
Other companies, too, specialize in concierge and related services.
VIPdesk.com, for example, often hires home-based concierges in the US
and Canada. These positions include paid online training and benefits,
as well. (Check the VIPdesk site for periodic openings, which often
Beyond the VA trend, the larger “virtual help” movement is
expanding, too, as time-starved individuals of all kinds seek
assistance from a growing pool of home-based workers. While companies
like US-based FancyHands.com compete with Zirtual – with similar
companies weighing in from China, India and the Philippines –
sites like TaskRabbit.com and Fiverr.com overlap on their niche.
TaskRabbit.com, which we’ve mentioned here before, lets customers
find remote helpers to do everything from picking up the dry cleaning
or walking the dog to organizing a database virtually. And Fiverr lets
you earn $5 and up for anything from singing a birthday song over the
phone to giving a brief Spanish-language lesson on Skype.
Christine Durst and Michael Haaren are leaders in the work-at-home
movement and advocates of de-rat-raced living. Their latest book
is Work at Home Now,
a guide to finding home-based jobs. They offer additional guidance on
finding home-based work at www.RatRaceRebellion.com. To read features
by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators
Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2013 BY STAFFCENTRIX, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM