HourlyNerd Starts its Move to Engage Large Enterprises


Spend Matters recently spoke with Rob Biederman and Patrick Petitti, 2 of the co-founders and the co-CEOs of work intermediation platform (WIP) HourlyNerd. In that conversation, we got an update on developments at the company, including extensions of the original marketplace platform to support more significant engagement of large enterprises. This post presents an overview of HourlyNerd and provides a high-level perspective on the new enterprise-oriented solutions. We plan to do a deep dive into these solutions when they are made generally available within a few months.

What Is HourlyNerd?

HourlyNerd is a WIP that specializes in connecting businesses with elite, independent freelance labor, especially graduates and students of top MBA programs (“nerds”), to cost-effectively perform business consulting projects. The company see its services as both a complement to and a substitute for the higher priced services of big management consulting firms.

The company launched in 2013, while the principals were still working on their Harvard MBAs.  Since that time, the company has raised $12.6 million of funding in 3 rounds. The recent $7.8 million series B round, in February 2015, had the backing of major private equity players, including Highland Capital Partners (Lead), GE Ventures and Greylock Partners.

HourlyNerd originally came to market as an online freelancer marketplace, which attracted mainly small and medium-sized business (SMBs) buyers, as well as individuals in larger enterprises who could leverage the platform to find and engage nerds and pay for their services with a credit card. Roll the clock forward to 2015, and the company reports a business buyer population of thousands of SMBs, along with individuals in about 100 Fortune 1000 companies.  It also reports a network of about 13,500 nerds in and outside the US. One of the HourlyNerd principals on our call noted this number was larger than the number of Bain and BCG consultants combined.

Spend Matters is interested in HourlyNerd for at least 2 reasons. First, it is one of those specialized WIPs we recently wrote about. Second, and perhaps more importantly, HourlyNerd is one of those WIPs that, like freelance management system (FMS) players, is focused on building solutions and offerings that will enable more comprehensive engagement of larger enterprises, not just one-off transactions with individuals in those enterprises.  

Moving Toward Larger Enterprise Engagement

In the past year, HourlyNerd has begun extending its original freelancer marketplace platform to penetrate and engage with large enterprises. In our call, the company pointed out that the context of these platforms are 2 growing problems that enterprises face:

  1. Gaps in internal expertise and experience to accomplish specialized business projects. (Note: A colleague of mine recently told me of a company that brought in a large consulting firm to help negotiate a deal for a sale with a prospect that was outside of the core market.)
  2. The buying process for engaging consulting providers is not a well-managed one, leading to inefficiencies in use and higher-than-necessary costs.

To engage with larger enterprises, HourlyNerd has set about solving these problems and more through 2 solution offerings:

  • The first solution, which HourlyNerd implements for specific enterprises, enables employees to engage nerds in a sanctioned process, not as individual users directly buying from the open HourlyNerd marketplace. The solution obviously supports spend aggregation and visibility, as well as a single enterprise invoice. In addition, the solution is tailored to the companies and departments to align to their specific needs for certain types of consultants. The solution provides what HourlyNerd calls “controlled searchability,” which means employees will have access to only certain nerds with certain characteristics, including higher levels of vetting. Over time, algorithms that enable matchings will also learn in order to achieve even better matching.
  • The second solution, also implemented for specific enterprises, allows enterprises to manage all of their consulting spend – not just spend on HourlyNerd – in one place, similar to a VMS, which consolidates all of the consulting firms the enterprise uses and provides visibility into engagements and spend. Enterprise employees can engage consulting firms and individual consultants, in a controlled way, through the consulting firm options presented by the solution. This solution can also be used in conjunction with the first one above, effectively making HourlyNerd another potential supplier of consulting services along with the other consulting firms. This gives enterprises the ability to automatically compare and contrast various options for fulfilling a given need. Lastly, an available add-on module for this solution gathers and stores all consulting project deliverables and organizes them in an enterprise-wide knowledge management system for potential use, and best-practice sharing, by others in the enterprise.

These 2 solutions represent decisive moves, on the part of HourlyNerd, to step up and expand engagement with larger enterprises. The second solution could even be considered a bold move. However, these moves are directionally consistent with those of other WIPs that are also moving toward more comprehensive enterprise engagement.


HourlyNerd stands out as one of the very few online freelancer marketplaces making a serious attempt to further engage enterprises with additional solutions that should help to ease enterprise adoption. It remains to be seen to what extent. Gaining enterprise traction has been slow going for WIPs, but in fairness, most efforts have started only in past 2 years. How these platforms fit into contingent workforce management programs and how they will interact with their vendor management system  or managed service provider is something that is far from clear.

That said, what HourlyNerd has accomplished in just 3 years is impressive, and its developing movement toward large enterprise engagement is notable. Spend Matters intends to cover and analyze these developments, including a deep dive into HourlyNerd’s enterprise-oriented solutions, when they are released for general availability.

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