A Sydney-based startup is looking to disrupt the consulting sector and its “old boys’ networks” by making it easier for businesses to find the right consultant online.
FindaConsultant is a website that allows businesses to search for consultants in speciality areas. Founder and managing director Sharon Melamed told StartupSmart she decided to launch the business because there did not seem to be an online directory in Australia specifically for consultants.
“Consulting is a world that is traditionally associated with grey hair and navy suits and old boys’ networks,” she says. “It’s a bit of a contrast to have a female entrepreneur come in and really shake up the image of this very traditional sector.”
FindaConsultant is Melamed’s second online startup. Two years ago she launched Matchboard, a website aimed at matching buyers and suppliers so that organisations can enhance their customer relations.
“We just replicated the model we had for that and re-skinned the website for the consulting sector,” she says. “It was extremely low capital to establish because all the matching software had been developed for my other business.”
Melamed hopes FindaConsultant will not only be useful for businesses looking for advisory services, but also consultants wanting to broaden their reputation and client-base.
“Consultants that are either sole practitioners or in a small consultancy firm are so busy delivering their services they don’t have time to do marketing,” she says. “This is a godsend for them. The only other option is to go to recruitment contractors.”
When shopping around for a business consultant, users can select from a wide range of speciality areas as well as a consultant’s location, the duration of the work and a price range.
“One of the problems with directories is they go out of date so fast and they’re literally a list of companies – they don’t tell you anything about whether they’re a right fit for you,” Melamed says. “We think search engines do a terrible job in these situations because you type in ‘IT consultants’ and you’ll get 300,000 search results on Google. Our mission in life is to save business people time and also to minimise risk.”
One hurdle the startup will have to overcome is to ensure its user base and community of consultants continues to grow. Melamed says while it is early days, the business is leveraging LinkedIn and has also established referral partnerships.
“One of the key opportunities to grow this business is to take this template and pop it into other overseas markets,” she says. “There’s probably a lot more beyond the small population of Australia in terms of business potential.”