3 Q's: Reinventing the Consulting Industry with HourlyNerd

Here's the deal: Consultants can be expensive, especially if you're looking at premier firms like McKinsey, Bain, or Boston Consulting Group. But, now you can get top talent by the hour, and on the cheap, thanks to HourlyNerd.


The idea is simple: To connect small and medium sized businesses with students from the top MBA programs in the world. In their words, "MBAs need money, have significant business acumen from previous jobs and school, want real-world experience, and have plenty of spare time. Meanwhile, small businesses could benefit from short-term, highly skilled labor from MBAs." Makes sense to us.


Co-Founder, Rob Biederman, started the company while a first year student at Harvard Business School, and it was his prior experience at Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital that helped form the genesis of the idea.


As a disruptor in the consulting world, we were excited to talk with Rob and learn a bit more about his startup journey so far.


Rob Biederman, Co-Founder of HourlyNerd


CogniTea: What's the HourlyNerd story? How did you come up with the idea? 


Rob Biederman: While at business school, I was in a class called Field 3 where we were split up into teams of 6, provided $5,000 and told to start a company. We put up a godaddy page for $10 and went around to local businesses, knocking on doors to see if they had basic business problems that a, somewhat new, network of MBAs could help with. 
Funny story: In the class, there was a stock market set up where peers could trade shares of each company idea. Out of the 150 teams we ranked 150th. We were shocked.


We believed in the idea and busted our tail so that when the next trading session came around, at the end of term, we were the number 1 traded stock. Our stock jumped from $32 to $757 in a month! 


What are the top three lessons learned from building your company?


We went without a tech team for the first nine months of the company’s existence. No one knew how to code and we had to outsource the whole process. Still, we had enough built to begin selling and testing the idea, so just start with what you have at your disposal.


Also, we are constantly thinking of innovative new ways to use our team; people are capable of more than you think and I've found just how powerful a sense of autonomy can be. In most cases, people are capable of getting to a defined end point or goal without much guidance. We think employees find it empowering to be constantly stretched with new responsibilities and placed outside of their comfort zones.


Lastly, take meetings with anyone you can because something positive almost always comes out of it. There is nothing to lose.


What advice do you have for others who are pursuing their own goals?


If you want to start a company, look around for customer needs that are not currently being met by existing options or industries that are providing more expensive or comprehensive offerings with very high minimum buy in, in excess of what customers think is the value. 


And if you think you have a good idea, find a low cost way to test it out with actual consumers. This lets you get immediate feedback on your idea rapidly and cheaply. Venture capitalists and angel investors don’t just fund ideas, they fund ideas with demonstrated traction and hard work behind them. 


Lao Tzu said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and we find that to be very true in running a startup. 


What’s next for you? What can people help you with?


We are transitioning from serving several thousand businesses to, hopefully, several hundred thousand businesses. We are constantly on the hunt for people who can fill in the gaps in our experiences, and who can contribute in meaningful ways. 


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