Denver startup, TULA, supplies on-demand assistants, chefs

As a single mother of two working in Denver’s oil and gas industry for 20 years, Megan Trask just needed a hand.

She had been searching for a service where she could hire a personal assistant a few times a month to help her keep up with her daily tasks, but never found a solution.

“I was working almost 60 hours a week in a super busy, fast-paced, high-pressure job, and although I liked my work, it was just difficult to find the balance between that and being a mom on my own of two,” Trask said. “So, I felt like I was failing in both roles frequently.”

So last year, Trask and her longtime friend Cody Galloway, who is also a mother of two, launched TULA, an online monthly subscription service that offers on-demand personal assistant and chef services.

TULA clients can select a monthly subscription, ranging from four hours of help at $175 a month or $43.75 per hour, to eight hours for $300 a month or $37.50 an hour. TULA maintains a 30 percent margin on hourly rates, Trask said. Then, clients add their to-do list to their account on the company’s website and can select or be matched with their own assistant.

Tasks range from errands like trip planning, organizing a personal budget, picking up dry cleaning, grocery shopping, or even waiting in line at the DMV. They can also be larger projects that knock out the hours in one week.

Some assistants even specialize in graphic design or interior design. Babysitting is not an option, though, Trask said.

“Through my research, the only other options I saw were you could pay a retainer for an assistant and had to try to fill 20 to 40 hours a month, which isn’t what I needed, or something like TaskRabbit, which is so impersonal and just a marketplace concept that doesn’t allow you to communicate with the assistant very directly to customize your experience,” Trask said.

In December, the duo launched TULA, which means balance in Sanskrit, in Denver, and in February, they expanded the services to Boulder. The company has 10 assistants and four personal chefs, which can offer private dinners, cooking classes or weekly meal prep, in the Colorado area.

TULA launched in July in Austin, Texas, where they have six assistants and two personal chefs.

A background check and driving record are reviewed for each potential assistant. If clients want more than eight hours, they can interview the assistants themselves and set up a customized pay system with TULA.

TULA’s assistants range from college students to new mothers trying to get back into the workforce, or even retirees who want to stay busy, Trask and Galloway said.

Clients are within the 30 to 50 age range, and include moms or decision makers within the home, as well as business professionals, they added.

“We’ve found a way to help moms from both the client and assistant perspective. We want to support moms to maintain a balanced lifestyle, but we also see a lot of moms that love the idea of working for TULA because it’s something they can fit in between drop off and pick up for school. They’re some of our most efficient assistants because they’re used to juggling the lists at their own homes, and they understand the importance of the requests coming from other moms as well.”

Since launching, TULA has serviced close to 500 client requests, and assists around 50 clients each month, “with more being added each week,” Trask said.

In September, the co-founders plan to introduce a mobile app for TULA. They also plan to launch their services in Bozeman, Montana and Scottsdale, Arizona as it gets closer to the winter. Eventually, they want to partner with property managers within their existing markets to help service Airbnb guests’ requests.

“We like the idea of smaller cities that are growing. We want to avoid states like California and New York that are used to services like this because we want to be the first entrant into this space,” Trask said.

Trask and Galloway said they have invested $104,000 of their own savings to develop the website and app as well as to build the brand. They hope to open an investor round in the winter.

The duo met 20 years ago while working together in the oil and gas industry, where Trask also introduced Galloway to her now-husband.

Trask left Denver-based PDC Energy, where she was the director of business development, last May to start TULA. And Galloway, who owns her own event company called Collaborative Events, decided to join her when the pandemic hit and gatherings ended.

Eventually, the co-founders said, they want to grow TULA into more than 20 markets and have 50 assistants and chefs and up to 1,000 clients in each one, so they can offer full-time employment opportunities.

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