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Exclusive Interview: Co-Founders of Virtalent

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Sam and Ellie

Sam Wilson founded Virtalent in 2014 and is responsible for marketing the company. He is a qualified digital marketer and a passionate entrepreneur. Amongst other roles, Sam has previously organised the UK’s largest conference for student entrepreneurs, worked in Marketing for a group of private British schools across Europe and consulted (CHAPS2 methodology) for Aston Business School’s Transformation for Growth SME outreach project.

Ellie Bekalo is Co-Founder of Virtalent and looks after Operations and Recruitment. She is an award-winning public speaker and has been featured in national publications such as The Times and The Mail for her role in promoting entrepreneurship as a career path for university graduates. Ellie has previously worked in HR in Madrid, is fluent in Spanish and has successfully grown a company selling university branded merchandise until exit.


Virtalent is the UK’s fastest growing Virtual Assistant service. Our VAs help entrepreneurs stay on top of their long to-do lists.

What was the driver for creating Virtalent– what gap did it fill?

When we had founded other businesses, it had been very difficult to find a way to outsource some of our workload. We weren’t ready to face the commitment, expense (and headache!) of taking on a member of staff, though we would have liked that kind of one-to-one relationship. We hated the amount of time and effort we spent trawling through task marketplaces such as Fiverr, dealing with language barriers and cultural differences, only to be left disappointed with the end result, though we liked the flexibility.

We founded Virtalent to address this gap in the market and combine the best of both worlds. A reliable, long-term way to secure some extra support whilst growing a business, without the legal (and financial) commitments that come with taking on staff.


Who does Virtalent primarily serve?

We have a varied client base, though almost all of our clients operate in a professional service industry of some kind, whether that is B2B or B2C. All are highly entrepreneurial and forward thinking individuals. From large companies such as the Marco Pierre White chain, to independent IFAs and consultants, we work closely with the leader of that organisation to help them better leverage their time.

What difference does Virtalent want to make?

We want to take the strain off of British entrepreneurs. Growing a business, whether it is 1 day or 10 years old, is mentally, physically and emotionally draining, so we try to help our customers to “work smarter, not harder”. We try to add as much value as possible and help our clients not only enjoy a better work-life balance, but also to help grow their business efficiently.

What are the barriers to making that difference?

Though this is changing rapidly, it can be difficult to convince some new clients of the benefits of working with a Virtual Assistant as opposed to an employee. Many are used to someone physically walking into their office each morning, asking how they can help. They worry that, as they can’t physically see the person sat at a desk in front of them that, for some reason, they won’t work efficiently or do as they are asked. A remote solution means that their working relationship is simply conducted over Skype, phone and email, as opposed to in-person. Technology today means that taking on staff (and restricting yourself to the talent found in your local town!) is simply not necessary.

Clients also don’t have to pay for laptops, office spaces, staff training events, NI contributions… or endless supplies of paperclips and tea bags, let alone worry about covering for holidays or days off sick. Working with a Virtual Assistant offers a very flexible, convenient way to access some support, without an employee knocking on your door asking for you to cover their next holiday in Malta or chipping in about the latest office gossip. There is a smarter way of working out there.

Who’s helping you overcome those barriers?

Business leaders are certainly beginning to wake up to the benefits of remote working and our clients do a great job about shouting about this to their peers. Organisations such as the Society of Virtual Assistants and the UK Association of Virtual Assistants, both of which we are members of, are working to raise the profile of the VA industry in the UK, yet there is still much more to do.

What needs to happen in this industry to accelerate the growth of Virtalent?

The Virtual Assistant industry is highly fragmented in the UK (as well as USA). Other than Virtalent and a couple of competitors, the rest of the industry is composed of individual freelancers. Most, though certainly not all, seem to run their businesses simply as a way to earn some extra income around their other commitments – children, other lifestyle businesses and hobbies, for example. This is great for their lifestyle, but we think it damages the perception that many business owners have of the industry as a whole. I think the industry needs to realise what a fantastic opportunity we can offer to small businesses, shout a little louder and work to become as professional as possible. A rising tide lifts all boats.

How can people – individuals and organisations – find out more about Virtalent?

More information about the Virtual Assistant service Virtalent offers can be found online at virtalent.com.

 

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Green Weddings Trend: Why 70% of Newlyweds Are Going Green

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A couple of months ago, my best friend got married to her new husband. They are both very eco-conscious people, so they decided to have a unique twist on their wedding. They asked for the following:

  • They arranged a carpool with their friends.
  • They didn’t have any balloons. Instead they used umbrellas.
  • They used plant materials instead of plastic confetti.
  • My friend insisted her husband not purchase a diamond. In addition to being ecologically conscious, she didn’t like the idea of having a stone that was used in conflict zones.

My friends aren’t the only ones making these changes. In fact, nearly a quarter of all newlyweds are organizing green weddings.


Green Weddings Are Becoming the Norm

People are more concerned about green living than ever before. They are trying to incorporate environmental protectionist ideas into every facet of their lives, even the most intimate, such as marriage. A growing number of people are trying to have green weddings, which can make a big difference in reducing their carbon footprint.

How much of a difference can this make? Here are some statistics to bear in mind:

There are a number ofreasons that green weddings are becoming more important. Here are a few.

People Are More Worried About Environmental Preservation than Ever Before


Green living in general is becoming a greater concern for most people. Even younger conservatives are breaking from their older counterparts by insisting on fighting climate change. According to a poll from Pew Research earlier this year, 75% of Americans say that they are very concerned about protecting the environment. Having green weddings is a good way to act on this concern.

One of the biggest changes people are making is using recycled products for their green weddings. This is explained by the research from Pew:

“Overall, 32% of U.S. adults say they are bothered a lot by people throwing away things that could be recycled. Roughly six-in-ten Americans (61%) who say they always try to live in ways that protect the environment say it bothers them “a lot” when others throw away things that could be recycled. Among those who are less focused on environmental protection, only a quarter say it bothers them a lot when others don’t recycle. People who are environmentally conscious are also twice as likely as others to say that seeing someone incorrectly putting trash in recycling bins bothers them a lot (42% vs. 21%).”

Indifferent Politicians Are Driving them to Take More Initiative

Many politicians in power have been very hesitant to take action on climate change. Many of them have openly stated that it is a hoax. These politicians are forcing people to do what they can in their own lives to make a difference. Making small changes, such as hosting green weddings, is a great way to improve the environment without waiting for political momentum.

Cost and Simplicity

A couple of the biggest reasons that people want to host green weddings have nothing to do with their concern for the environment. Running green weddings is simply cheaper and simpler than having a massive, traditional one. One of the biggest changes is that they are buying green engagement rings from the best brands.

Green Weddings Are the Future

Green weddings have become very popular over the past few years. They will probably account for close to 90% of all marriages by 2025. People that are planning to get married should look into the benefits and plan accordingly.

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Green Tech Start-Ups: Are they the Future?

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Endless innovations are occurring in green companies, reinventing the industries they belong to. Gradually, they are beginning to amass more success and popularity. Consequently, these factors serve as a good indicator for green technology businesses, and their development must begin somewhere.

Green tech start-ups boast a wide array of opportunities for the economy and environment, while boosting recruitment openings with valuable services. While the technology industry is littered with high revenues and competition, the green tech start-ups are the clear sign of a cleaner future.


Fulfilling a Genuine Need

Many tech companies will market themselves as the ultimate tech giants to shift stock and make profit. As they all vie for attention through warped corporate rhetoric, there is only one ethical winner; the start-up green tech company.

Some argue that mainstream tech businesses have grown far too big, branching out into other industries and standing between the consumer and practically everything they do. However, green tech start-ups go beyond the shallow ambitions of a company, answering a call to sincerely help the customer and climate in any way they can. Of course, this is an attractive business model, putting customers at ease as they contribute to a humanitarian cause that is genuine through and through.

After all, empathy is a striking trait to have in business, and green tech start-ups maintain this composure by their very nature and purpose.

Creating Opportunities

Despite the pursuits for clean energy still needing more awareness, green tech is an area that is ripe for contribution and expansion. There’s no need to copy another company or be a business of cheap knockoffs; green tech start-ups can add a new voice to the economy by being fresh, fearless and entrepreneurial.


Technology is at its most useful when it breaks new ground, an awe that eco-friendly innovations have by default in their operations. Of course, green tech start-ups have the chance to build on this foundation and create harmony instead of climate crisis. Ultimately, the tech advancements are what revolutionise clean energy as more than an activist niche, putting theory into practice.

Despite the US gradually becoming more disengaged with green technology, others such as China and Canada recognise the potential in green technology for creating jobs and growth in their respective economies. The slack of others spurs them on, which creates a constant influx of prospects for the green tech sector. Put simply, their services are always required, able to thrive from country to country.

A Fundamental Foresight

Mainstream technology can seem repetitive and dull, tinkering with what has come before rather than turning tech on its head. Since 2011, technology has been accused of stagnation, something which the internet and petty app services seem to disguise in short reaching ideas of creativity.

However, green tech start-ups aren’t just winging it, and operate with a roadmap of climate change in the years ahead to strategize accordingly. In other words, they aren’t simply looking to make a quick profit by sticking to a trend, but have the long-term future in mind. Consequently, the green tech start-up will be there from the very start, building up from the foundational level to only grow as more and more people inevitably go green.

They can additionally forecast their finances too, with the ability to access online platforms despite the differing levels of experience, keeping them in the loop. Consequently, with an eye for the future, green tech startups are the ones who will eventually usher in the new era.

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