Malaysia-based startup Supahands aims to help busy individuals with a virtual assistant that can help with everyday tasks
If you’re a busy working adult, chances are that there will always be errands to run, service providers to call up, and any variety of mundane tasks to do. Often, these tasks will pile up and threaten to overwhelm you, particularly when you’re busy with work or family and have little time to spare.
It’s possible now to offload some tasks to an online virtual assistant, which will help you complete jobs for a small fee. While such crowdsourced services already exist overseas, for example Mobileworks, Supahands represents one of the first such efforts in Southeast Asia that specializes in individual, personal needs as opposed to corporate and business jobs.
Currently in beta, the idea of Supahands was born nearly four years ago, where Co-founder Mark Koh was a busy financial executive who found that he didn’t enough time for his personal projects and tasks. “I’ve always been a busy individual who was always travelling but had lots to do at home,” he says, adding, “I always complained about not having enough time to research for a holiday, find the cheapest flight, book in a meeting or even find a new restaurant to eat at.”
However, Koh believed that 2010 wasn’t the time to launch in Malaysia, and hence opted to wait until about a year ago. “At that stage we realised that Malaysia was not quite ready for such a service, with e-commerce too new in the market, weak consumer confidence, and a lack of programmers available,” he elaborated.
Fittingly, Supahands’ first prototype was built by a team of freelancers, hired due to the fact that both Koh and his co-founder Susian Yeap weren’t techies and had minimal coding experience. Subsequently, Koh and Yeap roped in techies Andrew Tan and Izwan Ismail together with marketing guy Warren Tan, creating a, as Koh puts it, “reliable and trustworthy tech and digital marketing team.”
Since then, Supahands has been tested with close friends and families of the team, with good response and feedback. The team was also able to study and understand typical requests users will likely send through, and the quality of results expected for what price level. All this gave Supahands the validation needed to launch in Malaysia.
How Supahands works is simple. A user, probably a busy professional, would have a choice of three plans to buy from, ranging from RM8 for a single request to RM60 for 12 requests over a month. The user will enter his or her requests on their dashboard, which will then be forwarded to Supahands’ team of “SupaAgents” — freelancers who will complete these requests for a fee. SupaAgents get paid a fair amount per request, and their pay can increase as they gain experience by successfully completing and getting good feedback on requests.
If a request is too large to handle and needs to be broken down into smaller requests, Supahands will charge each small request separately. Currently, the most popular requests are those related to research, for instance searching for affordable, good ethnic restaurants or tour packages. Other requests range from translation to wedding planning.
Koh has plans for Supahands to expand regionally. “Our plan is use Malaysia as a test base to iron out any kinks in the system before rolling it out in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong,” he says. “We aim to educate users to see the benefit and importance of delegating and outsourcing tasks so they can focus on improving and growing the other priceless moments in their lives – spending time with family, going on holidays to experience life, growing their business and pursuing their dreams”.