How I Started A $4.2M/Year Latino Virtual Assistant Platform [Over 2,000 VA's]
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello, my name is Jaime Nacach, I was born in Mexico and currently live in the beautiful city of San Diego, California. I’m a marketing strategist with a huge passion for technology. Four years ago, I decided to create a new company named Virtual Latinos. I wanted it to be a company that offered services that were beneficial to everyone involved. We call it a Win-Win-Win situation.
Our company offers entrepreneurs, business owners, and marketers the chance to connect with top, pre-vetted talent from Latin America to help grow their companies. At the same time, we help many of our fellow Latinos living in Latin America to find jobs as virtual assistants or virtual professionals for North American companies and earn an average salary two to four times as high as the ones they earn in their home country.
As of March 2022, over 50,000 applicants have signed up to work with us, we have processed and vetted over 13,500 complete applications, and have accepted close to 2,500 of them to be part of our growing community. We’re proud that we’ve recently completed over 1,000 hiring agreements, and have over 400 active clients from around the world working with us.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
As a person who was born in Mexico, I’ve always felt connected with my country of birth, and where I grew up for many years. Now that I’ve been in the US for a long time, I wanted to find a way to give back, while also being able to run a business.
I’ve always been interested in helping the community and volunteered for over 12 years in my local San Diego Mexican-Jewish community. Yet, once I started my first business - a marketing agency called Bloominari, I got busier and had less time to devote to volunteering activities that could help our society.
Before thinking about Virtual Latinos, I was looking to hire an assistant for my agency, as a small business owner, and with a lot of competition around, I was trying to find a cost-effective way to hire great talent.
I tried with different freelancer websites like Upwork and Fivver, and also tried with Virtual Assistant companies that offered Filipino VAs. And none of them worked for me. Either because of the time difference, high pricing and fees, or simply some of the VAs just ghosted me. And then, I had “THE IDEA” of looking closer - Latin America.
So I created Virtual Latinos and hired my first assistant from Guatemala. (She is still with us and she is the Recruitment Director now!). It was with Virtual Latinos where I found the opportunity that I was looking for to help many people and make a positive social impact while running a successful business.
Take us through the process of designing your services.
Virtual Latinos started due to our own need to hire talented people for our marketing agency Bloominari. Thus, every part of the process that I applied while designing the company, its services, the VA’s selection process, recruitment process, and every process that was, and is still currently part of our company’s process had my own “personal” needs to be baked into them.
Always be open to feedback, and do things differently than you originally planned
I’m a very detail-oriented person, who usually likes to invest a lot of time in perfecting everything I do as much as possible. I’m NOT an easy customer, and thus I designed my virtual assistants (VAs) vetting process with my high demand for getting the best professionals I could find from Latin America.
The company started as just a “test” to see if we’d be able to attract both VAs and clients to form a business to find, vet, and hire VAs from Latin America for customers in North America. The first step was to build a simple one-page landing page to first attract the talent - the VAs from Latin America. So I built the landing page myself, combining my HTML/web, and graphic design skills to make it happen. It was simple, to the point, but effective to get our test and minimum viable product out the door. Once the landing page was completed, I drove traffic to it with digital paid ads in Latin America.
I knew that if we couldn’t find the right talent, then there would be nothing to offer our future clients. The first step was finding professional bilingual people who would be able and willing to work remotely for our company and be listed in our company’s never-been-used Directory of Latin American talent.
After successfully attracting hundreds of people through our landing page in 4-5 months using paid ads, I decided it was time to start looking for real potential clients who could hire the VAs whom I had promised there would be virtual assistants jobs.
I now had the pressure to help all of these Latin American people who had believed in my idea, which they followed from a social media ad, all the way into a long, and detailed application process where I asked them to invest at least 3-4 hours of their time to get accepted into our community.
Thus, I knew that those that did make it through my vetting process would certainly be up for the challenge of working with clients who’ll expect professional work from them.
Once the landing pages for attracting both VAs and clients were working successfully, the next step was to design a proper website portal for VAs to build their online profile in our online directory, as well as a place for the clients to sign-up, login, and review our VA candidates before interviewing and hiring them.
Below is a screenshot of the first landing page to attract VAs, initially focused on virtual marketers:
Describe the process of launching the business.
The company’s domain, VirtualLatinos.com, was purchased in January 2018, which we count as the company’s anniversary. The first landing page to attract VA was launched on Feb 24, 2018, and the client’s landing page soon after April 27. The first 50-100 VA applicants completed their application within a few weeks, and by May 3, 2018, we had hired the first VAs from Virtual Latinos! Things looked promising!
Be organized, and write down everything. Having all your procedures on how you do everything written down, or at least on emails, or Google Keep notes is important.
First, we launched our Directory service, so our clients could access our pre-vetted directory of VAs from Latin America and hire them on their own. Once we got at least 100 candidates in our community of pre-vetted applicants, we started to promote our company’s directory to potential clients through networking events, an event our founder spoke at called 1 Million Cups, as well as through our marketing agency’s list of clients and leads.
Initially, we offered free access to our directory, in exchange for our clients/users' feedback, thoughts, and tips on improving our website and service. The main goal at that point was to offer real job opportunities to the VAs who we had promised that there was a job they could get through our company - we didn’t want to keep them waiting for too long.
After 3-4 months of clients using our Directory service for free, and hiring several VAs, we decided to switch to our paid model and Virtual Latinos had then turned from an idea into a new business opportunity. A few months into launching the Directory, we then decided to launch our “Agency hiring” service, which would provide a complete recruitment service to our clients, and provide them with the best 3-5 candidates from our pre-vetted community, so they could spend the least amount of time looking for the perfect VA, and more time focusing on their business.
The agency soon started gaining traction, as we noticed that our clients were too busy to hire someone to begin with, which is why they were coming to us for help in hiring additional people to their team. Thus, once we were able to provide the best VAs possible, plus the best way to pre-interview them, re-vet them, and customize each recruitment process based on our clients’ specific needs it became a great success for everyone.
Clients were happier with VAs that better matched their needs, VAs were happier getting jobs faster and with our team’s help, and our team was happier growing and expanding our business and community of both clients and VAs.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Our main marketing and customer attraction strategy have been inbound marketing since day one. As a digital marketer, our CEO Jaime Nacach focused on using all of his years of digital marketing experience in work, to help Virtual Latinos succeed online through natural organic rankings on Google. This is the same strategy our company Bloominari used when building its marketing for the marketing service we offered.
As those in the SEO industry will know, ranking on Google is hard, takes lots of time, and lots more patience. Thus, we knew that ranking on Google to generate traffic to our site was going to take time to build up. Thus, while we worked on our content marketing to generate valuable tips on hiring virtual assistants (VAs) from Latin America - especially to those looking for VAs in the Philippines. Our goal was to just write valuable blog entries on our website, and naturally have them rank on Google.
We mostly created content similar to what we saw on competitors from the Philippines, but with our own twice and advantages of LATAM.
Initially, we didn't do much keyword research, as we did research enough the fact that many competitors in the VAs space were from LATAM (only one existed at the time), so we knew that it would NOT be too hard to rank organically on Google if we created the content.
We also began to run some small advertising campaigns on Facebook and Google.
Ads are not cheap, and any small budget is usually spent pretty quickly if you’re not careful with your campaign’s target audience. Thus, we took very methodical steps in ensuring we only bid on very specific keywords that would bring the most specific clients we were looking for. Yet, when you’re too specific, then sometimes no one arrives - as no one types the specific keywords you’re (our team) was thinking of.
Once our content marketing plan was in place, and our ads were running, our founder focused on attending in-person networking events in San Diego, California. This included startup events, founders events, tech-related events, and attending various other related networking events. Those events turned out to be “just ok” and we didn’t think they were successful.
Yet, after attending “San Diego Startup Week”, and being featured as one of the speakers for a session on “Virtual Assistants”, we finally were able to land one of our best and friendliest clients. A local San Diego technology and biotech startup was looking to grow its business with Latin American talent.
Like many startup companies, we started by doing the hard work of talking to people in real life, chatting, getting to know people’s company’s challenges, and listening to lots and lots of feedback as we spoke about our new service of VAs from Latin America.
To this day, our company continues to focus a big portion of our efforts and marketing budget on creating original, valuable content to attract leads through high rankings on Google for various keywords related to our specific industry and services.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We’re happy to say that Virtual Latinos is our company’s most successful venture yet. Today we’re profitable, have grown an internal team of 35+ members, and currently hire 540+ VAs from 18 different countries in Latin America, serving 375+ companies in the US, Canada, Europe, and other countries around the world.
Although legally we’re still operating under our original company Bloominari, the marketing agency, Virtual Latinos have now become the main focus of our organization, and what we specialize in today as a company. We’re very happy to say that just about everyone we work with is happy with our services, our VAs, our staff, and how we operate as a company for the success of our entire community - both in the interest of the VAs, our clients, and our internal team.
We’ve grown 50% in the last 12 months, and expect to continue to grow at the same pace, or ideally better into 2025 or further. Our team is currently preparing for our growth by building internal SOPs of how our company operates, detailing everything we do, and ensuring that we’re ready to hire more team members, incorporate additional technology tools to become more efficient, and much more.
Our team is fully remote, and most of our team members are in Latin America - spread over 5 time zones, and in multiple locations and countries. Our administrative and main leadership team is in California, which is just three of us. We don’t currently have a physical office but plan to set one up in the near future so we can work together in person as well as from home.
Additionally, we’re looking to plan and host in-person seminars, summits, and social events for our internal team, our clients, as well as the entire community of 2000+ VAs who are part of Virtual Latinos. Therefore, we’d like to have an office in San Diego, California where we can host at least small to medium in-person events.
In terms of our goals, we hope to hire 2,500 VAs by the end of 2023, so we have a lot to work on to make it happen.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I’d love to share my top 3 tips for anyone who’s starting a business:
1)Always be open to feedback, and do things differently than you originally planned:
- This seems to be the best advice I’d give myself, as well as to others.
- Things you plan don’t always turn out as great (or as bad) as you might think, so it’s super important that you’re open to getting ideas, tips, and suggestions from people outside of your organization and team to give you their thoughts on how to improve what you’re doing.
2) Always test new ideas, plans, and services:
- Virtual Latinos was a “business test”, so being flexible to change the service, the pricing, the terms, the customers we serve, and the VAs we attracted at a moment’s notice was KEY to growing, pivoting, and eventually succeeding in what we’re doing.
- Initially, we were charging a one-time $49 fee to use our services, with no limits on who our clients could contact within our database. Then we switched to $98 one-time, with limits on how many VAs a client could contact, Then switched to $49/mo, then $67/month, and eventually ended up charging $150/mo, pre-paid every 3 months. So yes, we did lots of tests and checked what worked and what didn’t. In the end, we removed our Directory service and only kept our Agency hiring services as the only way for our clients to hire our VAs.
3) Be organized, and write down everything:
- I tend to be a very organized person, and that helped me grow my team and operations faster than I thought.
- Having all your procedures on how you do everything written down, or at least on emails, or Google Keep notes is important.
- To grow a company, you usually need to hire more people, and people don’t come trained. Thus, to spend the least amount of time training someone, having documents, videos, and notes on how you do your work was key to teaching others what to do.
- Then, you need to teach those new people how to teach other people what to do, so you don’t have to train someone else on the same tasks.
- Keep your ideas, plans, budgets, receipts, outlines, content, and everything you do for your business as tightly organized into local computer folders, Dropbox, or Google Drive folders as possible.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
As I mentioned before, I love technology and I’m always looking for tools or software to automate tasks that are repetitive or time-consuming, anything that can save me time.
One of my favorite tools is Zapier. I became a Zapier expert a few years ago when I found out this incredible way to automate and link almost ANY software. CRM’s with Google Docs, Email Marketing tools with forms, and project management tools. Almost my entire business has been built with Zapier and Jotform. Jotform is another great tool I use for all the forms we need. To gather candidates' applications, to get leads information, for internal team requests, etc.
We recently changed our CRM too, we’re currently using Zoho One, which has multiple apps you can use, like Zoho CRM, Zoho Recruit, and others. The change was challenging but worth it.
And I have to say, I LOVE Appsumo. Appsumo is a platform where you can search and find “one-time deals” for any type of software. I’ve purchased many tools for my marketing team. I encourage any entrepreneur to check their website!
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
As I knew nothing about hiring VAs from abroad, the main book I read to learn almost everything about hiring virtual assistants was Virtual Freedom. This book is very well written, it’s easy to read, and provided me with amazing insights into the possibilities of growing my original business - the marketing agency - through the help of Filipino virtual assistants. I did initially hire VAs from the Philippines, yet for various reasons, I chose to instead focus on hiring VAs from closer to home in the US, and my place of birth which is Mexico.
When it comes to business books, I always quote the myth, which in a nutshell explains the importance of building your business as a franchise - including creating all the standard operating procedures (manuals), to make it easy for anyone to operate your business with or without you.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’re constantly looking for new positions as we're growing rapidly. We are looking for Sales experts, SEO Manager, specialists, and Social Media manager for our internal team. Anyone who wants to join our internal team has to follow the same steps as all our virtual professionals within the community.
They need to apply here and follow all the steps they’ll receive through email.
We hire people within our community of virtual professionals from Latin America.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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