Marcela and Jess are Harvard students who came up with an admirable and amazingly unique idea. That idea is literally a billion dollar one! Don’t miss this story!
How did the two of you meet? One thing about each other that you admire the most?
Marcela: We sat one seat apart in business school. I feel bad for the guy who sat in between us because we were talking all the time.
Jess: Marcela is brilliant and passionate about building things in the best way. She can get people to follow her anywhere.
Marcela: Jess is my favorite person in the world. She was Captain of the rugby team for a reason – she’s cool under pressure, drives the team to success, and gets things to the finish line no matter the challenges.
What do you miss about Boston?
Marcela: I lived in Boston for 10 years – so it feels like home. I miss how walkable the city is, my favorite restaurants, and the people. There’s an amazing intellectual curiosity in Boston with so many universities and schools around.
Jess: I agree with that. I think that’s why there’s such an amazing entrepreneurial spirit in Boston. That’s something I miss. Everyone I knew was starting their own business or had an exciting idea.
A piece of advice, motto, passion or anything that drives you everyday?
We’d both agree with this: to create a great service experience, you need to treat your employees as your primary customer.
How have you seen Alfred grow and change since you first came up with the idea?
We started Alfred for ourselves because we were exasperated – we were working long hours, and coming home to chaos. Alfred started on one sheet of paper- it was a stick figure going in and out of buildings to coordinate our to-do list. That drawing became a business plan, an experiment, beta customers, excels sheets, and now it is a sophisticated tech platform with multiple apps. Our idea took off because we are changing how people live their everyday life, giving them sanity, and a feeling that someone is out there looking out for them after a hard day. It’s become so much more than just doing errands. We’re helping people live healthier lives, happy stronger relationships, see their kids more or friends. It’s been amazing to watch it develop to so much more than the sum of its parts. A big part of which is down to the amazing Alfreds we have been hiring.
You two won TechCrunch Disrupt’s Startup Battlefield competition in 2014. What was that like for you? Did you see it coming?
Indescribable. Walking on stage knowing that the next 12 minutes could change our lives was terrifying. Then hearing our names called out as the winners… I don’t think either of us saw it coming. It turned our world upside down overnight – all kinds of people reached out to us, and we got the idea of Alfred on the world stage. After celebrating a little that night we got a good night sleep and went back to work the very next morning.
What are your goals for Alfred moving forward?
We want to bring the service to more cities. We’re planning SF in a couple months then DC, LA and Chicago. We also really want to continue to add more services and expertise so we can truly be the ultimate, one-stop-trusted place for all your requests.
What do you two like to do outside of creating and implementing awesome ideas?
We do a lot of Yoga and try to spend time with family and friends. We work a lot but if you’re not able to exercise and relax you’re never going to be operating at your maximum. When you are at work – be all in. Then take a break and be present; don’t think about work. We encourage our whole team to do the same.
Are you working on any other projects that we should know about?
I think we have enough on our plate with Alfred, but you’ll be the first to know!
If you hadn’t launched Alfred, what would you be doing today?
I think we both would have still gone down the start up route and joined a company we were really passionate about. It’s just too much fun to avoid, also so many smart people are working at startups. It so important to put yourself in a position where you’re challenged and learning from those around, and nothing does that like a startup.
People say it’s complicated to work with a friend. Do you agree? What would you say is an important element of a healthy working relationship?
Marcela: Haha I don’t think so, or at least not for us. I think we’re unique in that our friendship was born out a very deep mutual respect of each others strengths and weaknesses. We trust each other entirely which is the most important factor.
Jess: We compliment each other well and I think that is part of a healthy working relationship. Finding people who make you better at your job, and I also believe that truly caring about the people you work out is important too. At Alfred we’re very much a family and not just a company.