One was an attorney, the other an engineer. With high-pressure careers, young children and busy households to manage, both were tired of running full speed on the Silicon Valley treadmill.
"We were leading hectic, corporate lives," said Carmela Guizar-Sanchez, the engineer.
"I had a second job just managing the housekeeper, gardener, the girl who came in to do chores a few times a week," said Selena Ontiveros, the attorney. Two years ago, the friends began fantasizing about a household helper who would oversee these seemingly simple yet time-consuming tasks of everyday living. "We decided if we needed help like this, there must be others just like us."
In early 2008, they launched Simplify Home Solutions, a personal assistant/concierge/contractor/therapist service rolled into one. Both left their corporate jobs to concentrate on the new business, which they run out of their homes; Ontiveros recently returned to practicing law and leaves the daily operation of Simplify to her partner.
The lifestyle and home concierge, as they like to describe their business, was started with an investment of less than $10,000, one client and a roster of service providers the women had selected after road-testing them in their own homes and doing background checks.
"We looked at the market, did a little research and knew there wasn't anything like this out there," said Guizar-Sanchez.
Their target clients would be overworked, time-crunched, multi-tasking women like the ones they saw in the mirror each morning. They would do it all: grocery shopping, picking up dry cleaning, cooking, laundry, yardwork, chauffering kids, paying bills, organizing paperwork, waiting for repairmen or the cable guy.
Logo from Simplify Home Solutions