Ever wanted to know what it’s like to have your own personal assistant? A startup in the Philippines has built an SMS-based app that makes it possible
In the Philippines, personal assistants are both common and a luxury to have in the country — common in the corporate workplace functioning as secretaries, messengers and couriers, yet a middle- to upper-class privilege when functioning as overall household help.
e27 had the opportunity to test out what it’s like to have an all-in-one personal assistant, thanks to a Philippine-based startup called HeyKuya. While testing, we found out several things that make HeyKuya an efficient and interesting startup to watch for.
A brother like no other
As Kuya is the Tagalog word for “elder brother,” HeyKuya promises that its brothers-for-hire will help fix folks’ minor inconveniences, ranging from food deliveries to travel bookings. All they need to do to is text a person named Kuya their request, and Kuya carries it out for them. There are currently no membership fees to join and the startup only charges for items individuals may ask Kuya to order for them.
HeyKuya has also fashioned its brothers-for-hire to not only deliver food and get you your morning coffee but also trained them to answer relationship queries and be an encyclopedia for shopping malls and restaurants in nearby vicinities.
Handled with a human touch, Kuya also has a naturally funny and family-oriented personality, cracking a joke once in a while with its customers and opting to watch Game of Thrones and spending time with his family when HeyKuya’s services are closed. This personality allows users to experience a personal Filipino touch when dealing with Kuya. Hopefully, as someone who can be trusted.
Addressing the offline market
The motivation behind building the startup was to simply make lives simpler for Filipinos who are offline, not online.
“As much as we’d like to have this notion that all Filipinos have access to proper Internet, the truth is that a lot of these folks are still offline, and still rely on SMS and newspapers for information.” Shahab Shabibi, CEO of HeyKuya explains. “We want to reduce the time spent on menial tasks, so people can focus on what actually counts in their day-to-day life. The greater goal is to save time for all Filipinos, not just the super rich who can afford paid help.”
HeyKuya is a venture built by Machine Ventures and is backed by some of the region’s most prominent entrepreneurs including Farouk Meralli of mClinica, David Margendorff of PawnHero and Subir Lohani of Carmudi.
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