“Hey, could you take my suits down to the dry-cleaner’s? I won’t be able to get out of the office during business hours.” Álvaro Ybáñez, 33, read this message a year ago on his family’s WhatsApp group. It was from his brother Bosco.
Ybáñez, who had been working in marketing for nearly a decade, says that something clicked in his head as soon as he read the request. He dropped everything he was doing and set up Ambrosio, a personal-assistant app that offers busy Madrid residents the option of having their errands run for them.
Their target audience: people with a packed work schedule and those who are too lazy and would rather spend Saturday morning doing something else.
It’s like having your mother around all the time
In other words, it’s about buying yourself free time for under €100 a month.
Grocery shopping, clothing alterations, pharmacy prescriptions, house cleaning, which costs an additional €11 an hour... anything goes.
“Once I had to legalize a boat captain certificate,” recalls one of the uniformed valets, who sports beige pants and a white shirt as he checks that the house he has just cleaned is spotless.
It is 12.30pm on a Thursday, and this “Jeeves” has just spotted a small wine stain on one of the windows inside the home of one of his most exclusive clients, who is absent at the moment.
In such cases, “we call the company immediately to see how it can be removed. The client needs to be offered solutions for the unexpected.”
Ybáñez, who glimpsed a business opportunity in his brother’s Whatsapp message, secured an initial investment of €150,000 to launch the project, which is now expanding further: very soon, clients will be able to ask Ambrosio to walk their dog or take their vehicle to the car wash.
My standards are high. What I want for my clients is what I would want for myself
Alvaro Ybáñez, founder
“This has made my life a lot easier; being a working, self-employed woman with a child, it’s very hard to find time for everything,” reads one client testimony on the website.
Ybáñez admits that the comforts he enjoyed at home as a child were very special.
“I had the good fortune to experience a service that 90% of people know nothing about,” he explains. “My standards are very high. What I want for my clients is what I would want for myself.”
Around 120 people have signed up in the last six months, several of them in some of the most exclusive districts in Madrid. The service covers most of the city, although Ybáñez insists there are no off-limits areas for Ambrosio.
If you had a different person every day to run your errands, it would no longer be a personalized service
Ybáñez and his three partners (his two younger brothers and a friend) are now considering offering clients a “butler-on-demand,” a service that would work on a pay-per-errand basis.
This model would be similar to Glovo, which is already a regular presence on the streets of Madrid. But Ambrosio has a special extra that makes it stand out from other industry players: the valet assigned to you by the app is always the same, “in order to create a relationship of trust.”
In some cases, assistants are given house keys. “If you had a different person every day to run your errands, it would no longer be a personalized service,” notes Ybáñez, who likes to point out that the staff – all Spanish nationals – have contracts.
The Ambrosios keep clients abreast of every development: “I’m on my way.” “I’ve left the dishwasher on because it was a long cycle.”
“It’s like having your mother around all the time,” says one of these assistants as he leaves a note on the kitchen counter. “We’ve detected ants in the ham box. It may be damaged. Have a nice afternoon!”
English version by Susana Urra.