HourlyNerd, the Boston-based online consulting service company, is not shy about its aspirations. After announcing today that it has received $7.8 million in new funding, co-founder Rob Biederman was quite bullish on the company’s prospects.
“What we are trying to do with our technology product is far from trivial,” Biederman explained. “For 90 years, McKinsey [well-known consulting firm McKinsey & Company] has done what we are doing with extremely talented, intelligent people with 30 or 4o years of experience. And we are trying to do that with a piece of technology.”
How to break into the consultancy industry
What HourlyNerd is actually doing is creating an elite freelance marketplace for businesses that are too small to afford a premier consulting firm, such as McKinsey. The company offers freelance work to MBA students attending schools such as Harvard Business School, the Wharton School at UPenn, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Columbia Business School, Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, among others. It connects its more than 10,000 consultants with businesses of all sizes that need financial advice, or help for any other business functions. Among its more than 4,500 customer companies are some big names including GE and Microsoft.
Most recently, HourlyNerd launched a new offering called “Ask a Pro,” a question and answer forum that allows companies to ask specific business questions that can be answered by the company’s freelance “Nerds.”
Biederman said that HourlyNerd hopes to use new investment money to “support and further increase the technology and product management function in our company.”
“Our website has been geared toward small- and medium-sized businesses, but what we’ve found over the past year or so is that the value proposition is really there for enterprises as well,” said co-founder Pat Petitti. “So one of the big efforts on the product side over the coming six to 12 months is creating an online experience that has the same quality level as HourlyNerd.com, but is focused toward enterprises.”
Not your average Boston funding round
The company’s new funding comes from a very intriguing group of investors. Highland Capital Partners led the Series B round, and was joined by GE Ventures, Greylock Partners, Intuit founder Scott Cook, the Kraft Group, and others.
Highland‘s backing of the Harvard Business School-founded HourlyNerd may well be one of its last investments as a Boston-centric venture capital firm, as it is rumored to be severely limiting its Boston area operations (and shifting all its focus to Silicon Valley) after being founded in Cambridge in 1988.
Greylock‘s involvement is a rarity for a Boston company these days. Greylock, a VC firm that includes LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman as a partner, was also founded in Boston (actually, it was the one of the first venture firms to back a software company when it invested in Cullinane Corporation in 1977). Since, Greylock has shifted much of its focus to Silicon Valley, and has been quiet in terms of Boston-area investments, with Ray Ozzie’s Talko, Constant Contact, and Providence-based Swipely being the few exceptions.
Additionally, the Kraft Group, which is actually pretty active in funding startups, rarely, if ever, publicly attaches its name to its investments. Which says a lot about how highly Jonathan and Daniel Kraft think of HourlyNerd.
Some of the other participants in the round are angel investor Semil Shah, former Etsy chief executive Maria Thomas, Rent the Runway founder Jennifer Hyman, and Suffolk Equity Partners.
Originally receiving seed funding from Dallas Maverick’s owner and Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban, HourlyNerd has reportedly raised $12.6 million to date.