Coronavirus Diaries From the C-Suite

This Company Found a More Humane Way to Treat Essential Workers

How Marcela Sapone, founder of Hello Alfred, pivoted her business in response to the coronavirus

Gloria Oh
Published in
8 min readApr 28, 2020

--

An “Alfred” grocery shopping for a member. Since “Alfreds” are W-2 employees with benefits, Sapone has now found herself in the middle of the debate surrounding the exploitation of gig workers as essential workers. Courtesy of Hello Alfred

Coronavirus Diaries From the C-Suite is a new Marker series where leaders share how the pandemic is affecting their businesses.

On March 2, just as Covid-19 was settling in, Marcela Sapone made the tough choice to pivot her entire company. Hello Alfred, a five-year-old on-demand home concierge service, had built its business performing outsourced domestic chores, like picking up dry cleaning, walking dogs, and cleaning homes, that were suddenly impossible. At her management team meeting that day, they decided to shift the 400-person venture-backed startup — which operates in 20 cities and has more than 90,000 homes on its platform — to a business that actually made sense during a shelter-in-place pandemic: only delivering essentials.

Since “Alfreds” are W-2 employees with benefits, Sapone has now found herself in the middle of the debate surrounding the exploitation of gig workers as essential workers. Marker spoke to Sapone about the startup’s sudden surge of octogenarian customers, shifting her company to a four-day workweek to prevent

--

--

Gloria Oh
Marker

Senior Editor, Medium. Founding Editor of Index. Previously, The Atlantic.