According to data tracker Tracxn, India has around 21 companies offering services in the area of virtual assistants such as Nikki.ai, Haptik and SuperText.
Two years ago, Mallika Sagar had to quit her high flying job with Air India cabin crew after she delivered her first child. Married to a cinematographer who had to travel extensively for work, Sagar had little choice. She decided to take a break.
However, when after a year, she decided to get some freelancing work, the only thing that came her way was content writing. It took her almost a year till she found about Wishup, a remote employee providing startup that she could give back wings to her career, even while sitting remotely.
Inflection Point Ventures-backed Wishup connects professionals as virtual employees to businesses and entrepreneurs. These assistants work on various assignments such as database building, digital marketing, lead management, customer support, secondary research, among others, for their clients.
Sagar, for instance, currently does inbox and schedule management for clients based out of the US.
Inflection Point Ventures invested an undisclosed amount in the company in a Pre-Series A round earlier this month. In March 2016, it had raised a seed round from 500 Startups, former Rocket Internet managing director Mato Peric and TracxnLabs.
"Currently we train people for 70 different tasks including marketing, sales, lead generation, digital ads, social media, and SEOs. We train the executives through a combination of tests which is followed by video conferences. The training goes on for about 3-4 weeks, depending on the prior skill level of the person," said Neelesh Rangawani, co-founder of Wishup.
He claims that just about 3-5 percent of the people get selected after passing these tests which take into account 27 different parameters.
With the rise in the number of startups, the need for virtual employees is also on a rise. A majority of Wishup's clientele include CXOs and founders of startups in the e-commerce, fin-tech and grocery space. The executives hire these remote employees to take care of their repetitive and time-consuming tasks as they could focus on the core areas of their businesses.
Virtual employees also turn out to be a much more cost efficient against an executive hired by a startup. Wishup offers full-time virtual employees for Rs 55,000 per month. However, clients can also opt for hourly packages. For instance, a remote employee for 30 hours can be hired for Rs 11,000.
All the virtual employees remain on the payroll of Wishup which gives them 60 percent of the fee. Rest of the 40 percent goes into commission, marketing and operational expenses.
Wishup is currently working with about 150 clients.
"Currently majority of our clients are B2C. We also plan to venture into the B2B segment. For instance, we plan to onboard all the admin task of a particular company for which they will require maybe 15-20 resources. We would be providing them with everything. If somebody leaves then we will be ready with his replacement also. This means that the founders need to do nothing when it comes to managing admin employees but just focus on his core business," said Vikash Kumar, AVP, partnership at Wishup.
One of the key things that Wishup takes into account is the stability of the person. "The idea is to understand the reason behind the person choosing to work remotely. He really needs to have a genuine reason behind this," said Rangawani.
For instance, Ravi Kumar, another remote employee working with Wishup had to quit his job at bus aggregator Shuttl in order to take care of his ailing mother.
Some of the other startups in this space include names like Avenue Growth and Indiez. Avenue Growth last raised Rs 3 crore in a Pre-Series A round of funding which was led by Avtar Monga, chief operating office at IDFC Bank, and Aditya Malik, chief executive of ed-tech firm Taleneedge in July. Indiez also raised USD 500,000 from Haresh Chawla, partner at True North.
However unlike Wishup, Avenue Growth, focuses on providing sales professionals. Indiez on the other hand, runs a community platform offering software talent. It accepts projects for its members and takes care of end to end management.
Virtual assistant as a category is vast. Besides providing remote employees, there are many startups are also offering services with the help of artificial intelligence. A lot of them also work in the form of providing chatbots that helps enterprises automate their critical business processes.According to data tracker Tracxn, India has around 21 companies offering services in the area of virtual assistants such as Nikki.ai, Haptik and SuperText.