Which is the most crucial element of a startup? The big idea, of course! But where does that big idea originate from? Well, when you are trying to find a solution to a problem. This exactly is how Shivadhar Soma came up with the idea for PlanMyDay. After spending more than a decade in the corporate world, he realised that what people lacked was Time. They needed someone to manage things for them, plan their meetings and even give them a gentle reminder to pay their bills. Yes, there were apps and organizers, but one had to organise things on his own, thus snatching away that precious time they were trying to save in the first place. So, Soma’s big idea was a remote secretary who would fix up their schedule, in well, no time at all! Shivadhar Soma joined hands with his friends Easwaran Suryanarayanan and Shiva Prasad and launched PlanMyDay, a bootstrapped venture with an initial investment of 30 lakh rupees, in February 2012.
Translating the idea to reality
Most corporate secretaries demanded high salaries and perks. But small to medium businesses could hardly afford them. PlanMyDay offered a cost effective solution, a remote secretary who would take care of their schedule virtually and also handle their emails, phones, travel arrangements and so on. The best part? She did not need office space, monthly salary, perks and other office utilities. In fact, PlanMyDay even allocated a special number to all their customers so that they could redirect their calls to that number.
Besides this, they also came up with a Field Service Programme wherein runner boys would take care of their customer’s physical tasks like collecting cheques, paying bills or submitting documents, thus saving more time.
Convincing people to hire a virtual secretary was the biggest problem PlanMyDay faced. Along with this, they needed a strong team and a good quality telecom and IT platform, seeing as most of their work was done online or over the phone.
Next came the question of security. PlanMyDay undertook strong data security measures to ensure that none of their remote assistants misused the information. They also made their staff sign a Code of conduct and Non Disclosure Agreement. Along with this, they installed CCTV cameras and gave their employees access cards to ensure that all the data was stored in the central system and not locally. They also created work flow applications and an in-house CRM to ensure that the data could be retrieved quickly whenever the need arose.
How it works?
PlanMyDay has hired 10 full time experienced secretaries who work out of their office in Hyderabad. In order to make things simple, PlanMyDay offers two plans; the Premium plan, the executive plan, which mentions all the functions that the virtual secretary will take along with the number of hours she will put in. There are also add-on packages, namely SMS campaign and News Letter campaign assistance that are provided at a little extra cost. However, if a customer has special requirements, he can always opt for an exclusive ‘plus club’ where he can customise a plan according to his needs.
Currently PMD is profitable operationally and is expected to break even soon on its investment capital. It is also on the lookout for angel investors so that they can open up offices in Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai and Chennai by the end of 2013.
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