Meet the Butler Service for the 99 Percent

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A startup offers customers shared butler services. You can hire them, or they could hire you if you're looking for extra cash.

Need Batman’s butler, Alfred, to be at your beck and call, but haven’t got Bruce Wayne’s bucks?

A startup service is taking advantage of the gig economy to make butler services more affordable. And if you still can’t afford it, maybe you want to earn extra money working for it.

The service, Hello Alfred, was named after Batman’s butler by Marcela Sapone and Jessica Beck. They founded the company in 2014 after deciding housekeeping and running errands cut into their study time too much when they were Harvard Business School students.

Alfred can give people that “25th hour in your day,” Sapone told CNN.

For basic service — $32 a week — an Alfred will visit once a week, tidy up your place, arrange grocery delivery, and coordinate laundry and dry cleaning drop off and return.

For $59 a week, an Alfred visits twice a week, arranges laundry and dry cleaning to be returned the same week, and has your staples and toiletries stocked before you run out of them.

That doesn’t mean your Alfred runs to the supermarket for you. Think of Alfred as your concierge, arranging for services from other startups like Instacart (grocery deliveries), MyClean (home cleaning), Shyp (shipping) and TaskRabbit (household jobs), CNN says. You pay standard rates for the services but don’t have to coordinate them.

Hello Alfred raised $12.5 million from venture capitalists and plans to spread from its Boston and New York roots to San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Unlike many contracted gig workers, Alfreds are on the company payroll, earning $18 to $30 an hour, Sapone wrote in a Feb. 1 U.S. Labor Department blog. Full-time workers get health benefits, she said.

“We calculated the 20-30 percent cost increase to do this would be offset by the ability to acquire great employees, keep them happy and deliver a consistent service,” she wrote.

It also means her company can be choosy about who works for it.

“Only 3 percent of applicants are invited to become Alfreds,” says the company’s jobs page. Employees go through “extensive” training and background checks, it says.

Most of the résumés come from college graduates in their 20s or 30s who want to supplement their income, because being an actor, artist, designer or chef doesn’t pay the bills, Beck told Bloomberg Business. She added that “stay-at-home moms who need to get out of the house” also apply often.

Would you use the service or work for it? Let us know in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Stacy Johnson

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