Expert360 is an s-commerce site that aims to connect professional service contractors from consulting and finance to project-based work on a flexible basis. The Australian start-up was recently awarded AU$4.1 million in venture capital through which it aims to accelerate its local expansion, as well as growing its footprint internationally.
Online platforms that provide s-commerce services are on the rise as a channel of matching professionals with clients. According to a recent study from McKinsey & Company, digital talent platforms are set to revolutionise business, holding the potential to add $2.7 trillion to GDP by 2025. The professional services industry, including accounting, engineering and management consulting, is one of the largest beneficiaries of the forecasted value added. Not surprisingly, across the globe platforms are being established to tap into the market potential, including the likes of blur in the UK, and Newcoventure and Comatch in Germany.
Another promising matchmaking platform for management consultants, the Australian Expert360, has recently made the headlines for a new round of venture it has lure. The platform, founded in 2013, provides businesses of all sizes access to top consulting and finance expertise for project-work. The platform aims to leverage technology to reduce the overheads and inefficiencies of seeking professional services for projects – acting as a digital s-commerce provider through its online website. The rationale behind Expert360 is according to its founders to provide a marketplace that connects expert management consultants and financial advisors seeking flexibility in choosing their projects, with firms of all sizes seeking project-based advice.
Similar to Newcoventure (founded by Frank Braun, a former employee of EY and goetzpartners) and Comatch (founded by former McKinsey consultants Christoph Hardt and Jan Schächtele), the idea behind Expert360 originates from within the consulting industry. Founders Bridget Loudon and Emily Yue both spent three and four years respectively with Bain & Company in amongst others Sydney before they decided to embark on their entrepreneurial challenge. With Expert360.com, they seek to boost the efficiency of the matching process and bypasses the bias large consultancies have, where top consultants normally reside, in their preference for large clients requiring sizeable teams of experts chosen through a stiff hierarchy.
The 2013 start-up was recently given access to AU$4.1 million in capital (roughly $3.1 million), sourced from Russian investment fund Frontier Ventures, Australian technology fund Rampersand and local high-wealth individuals*. The sites major draw card, its use by a wide range of experts that charge a minimum of $100 an hour with a typical hourly charge between $500 and $5,000, positions them far apart from other s-commerce markets that focus on ‘low-end’ services, such as Freelancer.com where the average hourly rate can get as low as $8. As it stands, Expert360 has facilitated more than $10 million in projects, includes 4,500 consultants in its database for missions and over 1,000 business users posting assignments. The company itself pockets 15% of the hourly rate, for which it provides among other things, contracts and payments.
The digital marketplace is already providing expertise to a range of high-profile clients in Australia, including Australia Post, Virgin and Woolworths. Loudon and Yue are however seeking to bring clients and consultants from further afield together, with part of the seed money aimed at international expansion.
“I think the guys who have been part of the old world in investment banking and management consulting for so long get it – they know that professional services is ripe for disruption,” co-founder and chief executive Loudon says. “We have seen Freelancer.com do it with coding and design, Uber do it with transport and logistics, but professional services and consulting in particular has not been disrupted in the same way.”
“As well as clients wanting flexibility, consultants want flexibility,” co-founder and chief operating officer, Yue says. “We are seeing some of the best consultants join the site because, throughout their career, there are a number of times where they want more flexibility. With a traditional firm, you’re either not working at all or doing 70 hours a week, and for a lot of people they are at a point in their life where that doesn’t really work for them.”
* Newcoventure and Comatch have recently also completed a round fo funding, with Newcoventure receiving capital from former Brainnet founder and KPMG partner Thorsten Schiefer, while Comatch lured venture from among others BrainsToVentures and atlantic labs.