More than 1,000 companies already use HourlyNerd’s stable of freelance business consultants, but the Harvard Business School start-up has just struck a deal with one you might not expect: Microsoft.
The tech giant has no shortage of smart staffers guiding its own operations, of course, but many of its roughly 100,000 partners who sell Microsoft products do not. These are often small- and medium-size companies that fix computers or offer IT services — with engineering degrees aplenty but nary an MBA.
So Microsoft has agreed to connect partners to HourlyNerd, which has about 2,000 business students and graduates available for short-term contract, usually at lower prices than big consulting firms. Businesses list their needs and the range of fees they are willing to pay on the HourlyNerd website. Consultants then submit pitches, name their prices, and the companies make their picks.
Microsoft already has an online portal where partners can access webinars and other business improvement tools, and is adding HourlyNerd, which in September closed a $750,000 seed investment round led by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. In exchange, HourlyNerd will provide data on common problems to Microsoft.
“We think this arrangement is very big,” said Pat Petitti, co-chief executive of HourlyNerd. “I think it’s probably only the beginning of our partnership with Microsoft. It’s hard to reach SMBs in general, and this is great way to reach them with a really big name behind us in Microsoft.”