Building An ‘Uber For Consultants’ Takes Much More Than Building An Uber

There has been a lot of buzz around a few start-ups across the globe building an ‘Uber for Consultants’. The idea originates from the fact that organisations now are moving towards a core-flex model where the core business is taken care by in-house resources and anything beyond core is executed via external resources. The concept of using external resources, or ‘on-demand talent’ as we call it has moved much beyond the lower end of the skill-spectrum to high end and even top end so much so that organisations now involve external consultants even for CXO roles. This interest of organisations to deploy external consultants for short-term projects and interim roles has prompted some entrepreneurial minds to come up with ‘Uber Model’ of hiring consultant services.

No one can deny the fact that Uber and its clones like Didi in China, Grab in SEA region, Ola in India and others have been extremely successful. The model, in last few years, has evolved to perfection. Various tweaks of the model has been applied to other industries including food ordering and home services. And, it has worked well for many startups.

Now coming back to building an Uber for consultants. Can it be built? Yes it can be. But how different is the model from Uber? A lot. There is nothing wrong with the Uber model of engaging with service providers. But, the model needs to be a lot different. So different that it would be even difficult to call it the ‘Uber Model’.

The reason is that Uber model is very successful when looking for generic services such as drivers, plumbers, electricians etc where the client engages the service provider for s very short term on an assignment, which has very little impact. The model starts failing the stress test as we move up the skill level. The higher the skill level required to execute a transaction (read assignment) the more checks and conditions the client would have in place before engaging with the consultant/service provider. The reason is obvious- consultants with high-end skills are required to execute projects and assignments which have a deep impact.

Even with common skill-sets like graphic design, website design and development etc, the customer first would want to talk to the consultant, judge his/her skills and then offer the assignment to him/her. When we move to even higher skill-sets like marketing strategy, legal, industrial product design etc. the time taken by clients to chose the consultants becomes even longer. It takes us a few seconds to hail an on-demand driver and a few days to finalise a logo designer but may take a couple of weeks to even a few months when we are looking for on-demand CFO or CMO services.

My experience shows that the Uber Model is successful till the point of matchmaking. Beyond the match-making (especially in a country like India) there has to be some hand-holding on both sides for the engagement to consummate. From the time we started, we have been keenly studying the behavior of clients and consultants and are slowly incorporating these elements into our technology model.

It is not that engaging with high-end consultants cannot be taken care with technology. It, for sure, can be. But, to build the model will take much more than just replicating the Uber Model. We at Feelance Co. are trying our best to build such a tech-enabled and fully automated model, but it will have to incorporate a lot of inputs from the real-life elements of engagement between clients and consultants. Hope to create the perfect model that suits the requirements of both sides soon.