Investors regularly ask “scale” questions. They annoy me. Yes, the questions and, often, the investors.
Why? Well, the questions often come with little to no context. It seems to me that many VCs are trained to be automated in much of their questioning of the founders they meet. They’re automated, like metal and wire robots with little to no business experience, context, depth, genuine understanding (no heart?) for both the question and the follow-on answers.
And so when I’m asked about our approach to onboarding the amazing independent software systems and data professionals in our network, I get annoyed.
Note: To be clear, these pros are individual practitioners, often called contractors or freelancers, and a growing number are small to mid-sized agencies/consultancies.
The answer I give to investors and others who ask some flavour of this question “Interviewing doesn’t scale, right?” is a direct: “No, interviewing the way we do it does not scale”, followed by one or more of these 5 reasons why we interview and why we’ll keep doing it:
Interviewing is powerful stuff. To see (sometimes we do video calls) and to listen to a Google Cloud Platform pro or a Marketo implementation expert talk about what motivates her to work independently and to learn about the kinds of work she loves to do, well, that motivates us to build a business that will contribute to her successes. If we can help her to find more clients, create more value and get rewarded well for her work, we win a little along the way, too.
Naturally, it won’t happen between us and each MeasureMatch Expert who signs up to the MeasureMatch service, but we’re getting to know many of them on professional and personal levels that will no doubt last for our lifetimes. These relationships are awesome, they are much valued and these relationships are playing important roles in how we think about and design for [hopefully] amazing customer experiences across the MeasureMatch Marketplace and future products/services.
As much as we’d love to have started MeasureMatch as all-knowing, omniscient tech and data gods, sorry to disappoint you, we’re mere mortals [but with big ideas and ambitions]. The good news is that we are learning a LOT when we interview new MeasureMatch Expert applicants. If we didn’t interview, could we really do what we’re doing in a way that genuinely establishes credibility with MeasureMatch Buyers and Experts alike? No doubt we’re also transferring important insight and value to Experts as well. In fact, I know we are. We’re regularly getting excellent feedback and thank yous from our network.
Verbal communication skills [currently focused on English language proficiency] are what we look for first when we interview MeasureMatch Expert applicants. Good and great communicators are highly valued by our clients (aka Buyers) and, naturally, by us. But, importantly, MeasureMatch Experts also value having a direct dialogue with the MeasureMatch team which we work hard to accommodate beyond email and chat messaging. And why wouldn’t we? It’s easy/ier to work [and talk] from anywhere, right?
It won’t be a surprise to anyone that marketplaces, of all types, centrally operate and succeed off the back of a small-ish % value contributors i.e. products/product categories or, like in our case, service providers and services. Most new and existing service marketplaces aim to onboard 10s of thousands or millions of service providers, perhaps with some alleged machine learning/AI-driven filtering methods in place, only to find 3-5% of network monetization. Because our interview and dialogue-based onboarding process yields only amazing practitioners and agencies/consultancies in our global network, we expect to continue seeing a far higher % of network engagement and revenue distribution. We’ll publish our first public report on our numbers in 2019.
At the end of the day, we’re working really hard to create something valuable for what are effectively two sets of customers for us - Buyers and Experts (aka Clients and Service Providers). To start, and most importantly, we are celebrating and supporting human skills: independent software systems, technology, data and analytics skills in independent professionals who are doing great work as solo service providers or as part of talented agencies and consultancies. The Buyers we serve are incredibly important, too (of course), but if we can get the Expert side of the equation right, the rest will take care of itself.
What do you think? Do you see anything missing? We’d love to hear from you.
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