I founded Outsized with what some might call a fairly ambitious goal – to transform the $250bn market for consulting services. How are we doing so far? Not bad, still early days and thanks for asking ;) but please allow me to take a step back and explain the reasons why I am so passionate about this and why we think Outsized can help not only our clients and consultants, but also to improve the life hundreds of millions of people.
Global management consulting market ($ billion)
Source: Statista 2016
My background before Outsized was in financial services, consulting and private equity. I have been on both sides of the consulting market – as a Consultant and a Client. I spent five years with a Big 4 consulting firm pretending quickly learning to be an expert in sectors as diverse as domestic heating, mobile middleware technology, women’s fashion and German fun parks (yes, they do exist). In my most recent position, leading the value creation team for a private equity fund, I hired consultants for projects in Asia and Africa, across strategy, distribution, technology and more.
A market that wasn’t working
Over time, I found that the market for consulting services was not working properly and in many ways, there wasn’t actually a market at all. The choice for me as a client to find consultants for a project was to either hire a big brand, big fee firm with nice proposal decks but often generic advice (and frankly speaking varying team quality staffed by juniors that happened to be free) or to go through a risky and time-consuming word-of-mouth search for alternatives.
The big brand firms benefitted from the fact that me as a client used consultants relatively infrequently in any part of the value chain and as such I did not build up expertise on which firms or freelancers were actually the best match for particular project requirements. Like many others, I sometimes defaulted to the big brand firms as they were perceived a ‘safer’ choice, even when the fit with project requirements was less than optimal.
The result? Project outcomes were not always great, either because a big firm was not the right choice, or because a consultant hired based on a word-of-mouth recommendation didn’t turn out to be so hot after all…
A marketplace bringing benefits to all stakeholders
Enter Outsized. We have set out to create a transparent market for consulting services, benefitting both clients and high quality consulting firms. There are a few things that make this possible, fundamentally changing how things have worked until now.
A market with scale and network effects:
By partnering with a large number of clients Outsized gets a constant and growing flow of projects. The more clients and projects, the more experience we get about consultants in different niches and geographies.
Global pool of consultants:
We partner with consultants from around the world to ensure that we have the best options available. For some projects, our clients want the very best international firms in a particular niche. In other cases, deep local expertise is needed or there are budget constraints. Outsized gives access to all options through one solution.
Matching based on requirements and verified quality – nothing else:
We understand consulting and if needed help clients scope out and structure projects to ensure requirements are clear. We then match the requirements with existing and new consultants. Quality assurance and vetting of consultants is rigorous and multi-stepped to ensure outcome quality. A consulting firm’s business development budget is irrelevant – verifiable quality of the project team is not.
We take great care vetting and reference checking our consultants during the onboarding and project matching process. As an additional quality safeguard, clients rate consultants after each assignment to ensure standards are maintained.
Impacting millions of lives
Our ultimate goal is to twofold: To fix something that is broken and to positively impact economic development, in particular in emerging and developing markets. But how can changing the consulting market have a positive social impact on affect economic development?
If each client can find the best local or international options for their requirements and budgets in an easy and quick way - project outcomes are maximised. The results are that organisations can grow faster, become more efficient and profitable, employ and train more people. Do this for one client and you have a positive effect – do it at scale the impact can be profound.
It could be a bank in South Asia who gets access to the very best specialist firms for their alternative distribution strategy to reach lower income customers. It could be a microfinance organisation in Africa who needs a boutique firm or freelancer to start a micro-SME lending offering. Or it could be an insurer in South East Asia who needs to be able to better segment and market to mass market segment to offer relevant and affordable protection products.
We are focused on ensuring that our clients can always access the very best consultants from around the world to help develop and implement their key projects. We have a long way to go before our vision is fully implemented but we will not give up until we get there.