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4 AngelList Startups That Make Life Easier for Entrepreneurs

AngelList Startups

It’s hard out there for a captain of industry these days, especially with all the high-pressure demands of an instant gratification world. Wouldn’t it be a relief to have your own personal assistant? Unfortunately, most of us can’t afford to hire someone to keep us from losing our minds in the daily grind.

But all hope is not lost, thanks to some innovative entrepreneurs on AngelList who have come up with a way to bring all the perks of a personal assistant to you via your computer or mobile device.

Here are four of our favorite products designed to make your day a little easier and life a whole lot less hectic.

1. Tie Society

If you can’t afford a personal shopper but still need to look sharp, Tie Society, dubbed “Netflix for ties,” may be the hookup you’ve been looking for. Otis Collins and Zac Gittens were just a couple of 20-something guys with a vision to bring high-end, designer ties to the average Joe in an affordable way when they launched Tie Society in 2011. Their concept is just like Netflix; for a monthly fee (the minimum is $11) a fellow can rent the latest trendy or power tie without having to eat Ramen for the rest of the month. When the customer is ready for a different tie all they have to do is send it back and pick out a new one.

Tie Society rocketed from a local Washington start-up to a national phenomenon in less than a month, resulting in over 400 designer tie packages mailed in four months and a jump in membership of 164%. One of the most impressive things about their growth is that Tie Society hasn’t used any traditional advertising; it’s their satisfied customers who’ve gotten the word out.

Not too shabby for an idea hatched in (and still operates from) Gittens’ living room. The company caught the attention of Silicon Valley venture capital seed fund 500 Startups, which included Tie Society in its April 2012 “The Funding Games,” a batch of companies selected for the fund’s accelerator program that not only provides funding but also a mentor network to help promising startups reach their potential.

2. Front Desk

This Seattle company founded by Jon Zimmerman, formerly of Expedia and T-Mobile, is a virtual service helping small businesses book appointments, schedule meetings, review client profiles and keep track of billing and contract deadlines and other issues to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Front Desk is like a fairy godmother for small businesses that can’t afford to bring a full-time receptionist or office manager on board.

Zimmerman was inspired to create Front Desk after struggling to manage paperwork for a crossfit gym he co-owns in Seattle and, although the app is still in a testing phase, it’s definitely filling a need for small businesses with hundreds of customers paying to test it. In fact, Front Desk has caught the attention of heavyweight investors like Nick Hanauer, who was an early investor in Amazon, and former Expedia and Zillow CEO Rich Barton, who have given the service their votes of confidence to the tune of $1 million. With total funding of over $2 million, it looks like Front Desk may be the office management solution startup companies have been waiting for.

3. Speaktoit Assistant

Thanks to the big brains at Speaktoit, a human-computer interaction developer, you don’t have to be Tony Stark to enjoy the perks of an individualized, talking personal assistant who lives in the virtual world of your smartphone. The Assistant performs tasks, answers questions, reminds you to pick up the dry cleaning and will soon be able to let you know how your stocks are performing throughout the day.

The popularity of this Android and iOS/Windows virtual assistant is its ability to speak in natural, conversational language and its extended hands-free features. Ilya Gelfenbeyn, co-founder and CEO of Speaktoit, is a natural language processing authority and the guy you want to thank for driving the development of a virtual assistant that you can wake up with a simple voice command – even if your phone screen is off.

In its first year, Speaktoit Assistant was downloaded more than 2.5 million times, which may be why Intel jumped on board in May 2012 to invest in the application and allow the creators to expand the Assistant’s capabilities to better serve the needs of businesses in 2013.

4. Service M8

No matter what business you’re in, you won’t last long without an efficient system for keeping track of who should be doing what, when and where – not to mention making sure invoices get paid so you can keep the lights on. Service M8 is a job management app that keeps you connected to your clients and staff no matter where you are. The Cloud-based app helps you manage client information, keeps work diaries and will even give you directions to a work or meeting site. But one of its most popular features is its one-touch invoicing system that helps keep your cash flow flowing.

Service M8, an Internet startup from Down Under, hit the scene in 2009 with a commitment to make the job a small business owner easier. Their real-time management app is specifically designed for service delivery businesses and intended to help electricians, plumbers, real estate agents and the like provide superior customer service from job quote through to payment.

Founder and CEO Kim Ford said, “”In my 40 years of business I have never seen it harder for small business to operate than it is today. ServiceM8 combines technology, tools and process so small business can leverage their strengths in what is a competitive and regulated business environment.”

With your busy schedule and the demands of your business, what type of virtual assistance are you itching to try?

Rebecca Edwards

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