Meet Ted Roden, The Unlikely Founder Of Fancy Hands: His Army Of Assistants Take Care Of Your Grunt Work

ted roden, fancy hands, august 2012, bi, dngTed Roden, founder and CEO of New York startup, Fancy Hands.

Photo: Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

Ted Roden did everything startup founders are told not to do. He didn’t have a cofounder and he didn’t start a company in his 20’s.He started one alone, in his 30’s, as a father.

When Roden first started working on personal assistant startup Fancy Hands, he was still collecting pay checks from The New York Times where he worked in R&D and helped develop News.me.  He was writing a book, and his wife just had a baby.

He was so pressed for time that he struggled to get everything done — so he turned to people on Craigslist to help him accomplish simple tasks. The Craigslist assistants helped him schedule meetings and make dinner reservations, but more importantly, they gave him some sanity at a crazy point in his life.

Roden figured other people would enjoy a similar sanity-saving solution. He opened up Fancy Hands to the public in April 2010 and paying customers grew organically.

Roden finally left News.me when it was acquired by Betaworks. Fancy Hands had enough paying subscribers to keep Roden financially afloat.

Since then he’s grown his business to seven employees and he’s hiring more people. Fancy Hands has thousands of customers paying at least $25 per month to have menial tasks completed. Roden’s assistants have done everything from deliver flowers to wait on hold. They’ve even written love poems and tweaked resumes.

Users pay for tasks in bundles; Fancy Hands doesn’t charge by the hour. Five tasks cost $25 per month, fifteen cost $45, and unlimited task plans are $95. Tasks don’t roll-over if they aren’t used.

Roden recently raised $1 million. A slew of investors, from Polaris Ventures to SV Angel, were all to happy to finance his rapidly growing company.

We stopped by last week to meet Roden and see what the new Fancy Hands office is like.

Fancy Hands occupies a pleasant, well-lit office in SoHo, just off Canal Street.

The company is all about making your life easier so you can relax.

The team is small and works out of one big room. There are only seven people on staff. All assistants work remotely.

Jon Banafato is a developer at Fancy Hands. He is currently working on the company's mobile presence and on ways to integrate services, like Basecamp.

Music plays throughout the office via a Sonos system. When we entered Neutral Milk Hotel was playing.

The wall is plastered with sticky notes that outline different tasks Fancy Hands needs to complete internally.

Cindy Laning sits across from Banafato. She heads up the company's business development and marketing efforts. Laning develops company relationships that will enable users to interact with the service more easily.

Nearby, in the middle of the team, CEO Ted Roden is busy at work.

Fancy Hands kept a lot of the things from the previous tenants, including the books.

They have a few different sets of lights. Each adds character and contributes to the office's funky feel.

These vintage lights are old school.

The chandelier was here before Fancy Hands, but Roden's team made the executive decision to paint it orange.

Kyle Bragger is a Product Engineer. He started Forrst in 2009 and the site was acquired by ColourLovers earlier this year. After that, he joined Fancy Hands.

Sometimes, when he's not at his desk, Bragger relaxes on this green chair.

Art lines the walls. Cindy Laning and Fancy Hands' designer Dave Trawin picked out each piece and decorated the office.

Smaller wall photos are scattered throughout the office too. This was the first. It's a picture of Fancy Hands' founder and CEO, Ted Roden.

Watch out, this is Hulk Hogan's area.

Just for fun, a lot of little toy soldiers are laying around.

Here is Trawin, Fancy Hands' web designer. He wants the Fancy Hands experience to be minimal and clean.

There are a few hand-themed pieces throughout the office (clever).

And plenty of logos.

No startup office would be complete without something ping pong related...though we didn't see a ping pong table in the office.

Everyone needs coffee.

And a mini-fridge.

Fully stocked of course.

Another view of the office.

They don't want anyone messing with this Gas button.

A vintage reminder of the neighbourhood where many tailors and textile factories were located.

A diagram explaining why you need FancyHands.

Kurt Guenther is the company's VP Engineering and has been working here for six months.

We got a final shot of Roden on our way out the door.

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