COMATCH, an online marketplace for management consultants and industry experts, has completed a second financing round. The digital platform, founded in 2014 in Germany, has received €4 million from Acton Capital Partners, Atlantic Labs and b-to-v Partners.
With the new funds, COMATCH co-founder Christoph Hardt, who founded the platform together with fellow McKinsey & Company alumnus Jan Schächtele at the end of 2014, says the firm will push deeper into the management consulting markets of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (the ‘DACH countries’). Since the operational launch in March 2015, COMATCH has completed more than 120 consultancy projects and grown its database of management consultants to over 850. The online marketplace has since also set foot on foreign soil, entering both the Netherlands (November last year) and the Nordics (February this year), and further out, most recently started its operations in the Middle East.
The second round of funding, estimated to be worth €4 million, was led by Munich-based Acton Capital Partners, and further included existing investors Atlantic Labs, a specialist in seed funding, and b-to-v Partners, a venture capital firm with hubs in St. Gallen and Berlin. Sebastian Wossagk, Managing Partner at Acton, says that daily practice reveals that finding the right management consultant, with the right qualifications and experience, is a difficult and tedious process. “COMATCH has proven to be able to solve this problem efficiently for its clients. As a result COMATCH has also established itself as an attractive channel for independent consultants for acquiring new clients and projects. We are looking forward to further supporting the team on the course pursued so far.”
“Thanks to the new funding we will be able to continue on our ambitious growth trajectory in the next two to three years.” says Hardt. COMATCH is according to its own estimates the largest pure-play online matchmaker in the German consulting market – an industry valued at €27 billion.
Competition is however heating up. Last year NEWCOVENTURE, another German online platform for contracting management consultants, also completed a seed funding round, while consultingsearcher, a Switzerland-based rival, has been around for longer, and can build on the long standing heritage of parent company Cardea, which is a familiar name in the Swiss consultancy landscape. And although not an online player, Eden McCallum, which too focuses on the top tier segment for freelance consultants, entered the Swiss market in the summer of 2015. At the same time, dozens of large consulting firms, such as the Big Four, are anxiously developing models and platforms in a bid to flexibilise their workforce and tap into the rise of the ‘gig economy’.
The developments in the DACH market are in line with the broader developments across Europe. A range of online ventures and marketplaces are playing a role in the UK (e.g. Blur, Freshminds), the Netherlands (e.g. VirtualCC), France (e.g. 2PS, originally from Canada) or the Nordics (e.g. COMATCH), yet, as it stands, there is no overall dominant player. Outside Europe, maturity in online consulting matching is assessed to be higher by analysts, with for instance expert360 sitting on a database of 4,500+ independent consultants in Australia, while MBA & Company – which received more than $6 million in funding spread over 4 rounds – boasts a network of more than 25,000 freelance consultants globally.
Looking ahead, Hardt says that he is well aware that the market, just as is the case with other online platforms that build on critical-mass and adoption, will ultimately unfold into a ‘winners takes it all’ game. The stakes, however, are high – the online matching industry could, according to McKinsey & Company estimates, increase global GDP by $2.7 trillion by 2025. Against this backdrop, COMATCH aims at moving fast, through leveraging its “first mover position in Germany” and the funding to expand its network and optimise its internal operations. Branding efforts too will be ramped up: “We want COMATCH to be first in mind with companies seeking management consulting services and with every consultant who leaves a renowned consulting firm.”
He concludes: “More long-term, we aim at becoming the biggest European platform for independent management consultants.”
COMATCH is run from Berlin – a top 10 city for startups according to Compass – where the firm currently has 15 employees. The platform focuses on both medium-sized companies as well as major corporations.