Experfy: WIP of the Week

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Today, we present Experfy as our WIP of the Week. Experfy, launched commercially in 2014 within the Harvard Innovation Lab, is a work intermediation platform that allows businesses and expert data scientists to engage one another, conduct a project and complete the payment cycle. Experfy describes itself as a “Managed Marketplace [that] brings experts on-demand to solve [businesses’] pressing data, analytics and business intelligence problems.” In addition to two types of platform-based exchange or marketplace offerings, Experfy also offers businesses a set of consulting and advisory services.

Most of the readers of this post know that data science/data analytics is a broad, expanding, fast-growing field. Because of its high value contribution to businesses, demand for it is accelerating. At the same time, demand is outstripping the supply of data scientists and data analytics specialists. Experify has launched itself “into the breach” a platform that intermediates businesses’ data analytics needs and the capabilities of scarce, expert talent, more effectively and efficiently than status quo models.

It is possible to source some of this talent on multi-category online freelancer marketplaces, like Upwork, or on crowd-contest platforms like Appirio (TopCoder). But Experify is a specialized, vertically-focused platform model, created by data scientists, to address the data analytic needs of businesses.  This is accomplished through a highly vetted talent pool and a set of consulting and advisory services that help businesses move forward on their data science and analytics journeys.

In this post, we will provide an overview of Experfy’s business, platform and services and offer some thoughts on what a supplier model like Experfy implies for services procurement.

Quick Facts

  • Founded: Incubated in the Harvard Innovation Lab, with commercial launch in 2014
  • HQ location: Boston
  • Co-Founders and Co-CEOs: Sarabjot Kaur, Harpreet Singh
  • Status: Privately held
  • Investment to date: $1.5 million seed round in mid-2015, by Dr. Peter H. Diamandis,  who has founded and co-founded several space-related organizations, including HeroX, X Prize Foundation, Human Longetivity, Singularity University, Planetary Resources, ISU and Space Adventures.
  • Investors from contingent workforce industry: None
  • Annual spend (revenue) on platform: Not disclosed
  • Annual growth rate: Not disclosed
  • Other platform dimensions: The company has not disclosed additional information. A 2015 published statement indicated the company at the time had developed a vetted talent pool of well over 1,000 elite experts in the field. It also indicated it was initially focusing acquiring client from the small and mid-sized business segments.

Business Model

The Experfy platform does the following:

  • Makes it possible for businesses and experts to be matched to conduct projects
  • Provides platform collaboration capabilities and project management tools (dashboards)
  • Provides PO and payment processing and  contractor tax reporting services.

There are two basic platform-based offerings:

  • Hire on-demand: Businesses post projects and experts bid. When the project is completed, the business pays a 20% service fee on top of the amount the expert will be paid.
  • Managed services: Prepackaged programs and custom engagements that are supported by a Experfy project manager. Business do not need to go through a bidding and hiring process, and results are guaranteed. In this offering, Experfy says its acts “more like a consulting company than a marketplace.” Pricing is customized to each engagement. (More info here.)

In addition to the platform-based offerings, Experfy also has what it calls advisory services offerings

  • Big Data Starter Package: Provides a proof of concept and a roadmap after reviewing the business’ current systems, defining its data assets and formulating its analytical problems.
  • Advisory Panels and Validation: Subscription to a panel of industry thought leaders to validate new product ideas and create roadmap. In addition, board-level advisory, review of big data vendor proposals, support in writing job descriptions and interviewing of candidates.

Pricing for these offerings appears to be $10,000 and up.

Spend Matters Comments

Experfy is a platform that supports a new model for intermediating work arrangements and the structure of work. Experfy has stated that it's platform-based model can lead to projects being completed in one fifth the time and savings of up to 80% relative to current approaches. This is the power of work intermediation platforms.

We might ask about how well the platform will scale, but that might be an unfair question. Highly scalable platforms like Uber are founded on commodity transactions. Work intermediation platforms can and do support commodity transactions, such as write a 300 word blog, design a logo, take a photo or  perform a microtask. But they also support non-commodity exchanges, involving more complex talent and work. To some extent, this would be the case for, say, a mobile app developer--and much more so the case for a data scientist, at least at this time. The point is that it would be unreasonable to expect a platform like Experfy to scale like an Uber.

From our standpoint, Experfy is much less an online marketplace than it is a platform-based, managed service provider that combines the benefits of platforms (efficient resource allocation, utilization, etc) and the specialized human knowledge layer needed to deal with complex talent as well business adoption and transformation, thus making it a quality assured supplier of complex, high value services, not simply a supplier of an individual with expertise (aka staffing).

Experfy is an interesting case, first of all, for what it actually is doing — intermediating growing, complex business needs and scarce, complex talent. But it is also instructive in terms understanding how new  platform-based “supplier” models can can differ significantly from one another--unlike cookie-cutter traditional staffing suppliers. Consequently, what lies ahead for “supplier management” is not just one or two more digital supplier types but rather a much larger number of types. Not only will new skills and methods be required to harness this broader range of supplier types, it will also require new ways of evaluating these suppliers across different dimensions and categories.

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