Our on demand expert advice platform provides access to the right people at the right time.
When I lived in New York City I felt connected. I'd just graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and was working on Shea Stadium redevelopment at one of the top architecture firms in town. Amazing design ideas would flow through my young body and I would get weekly intros to the right people and projects. It really seemed like experts were at an arm's reach if you had a good idea and needed help.
It didn't take long for me to realize that I was dead wrong.
Sure, I was smack in the middle of the Big Apple with lots of business cards in my wallet, but actually getting the right people to answer my calls, let alone do any work, was another thing. I could hear my grandfather's voice quoting Sinatra, "You haven't made it yet, kid." He was right. There were many more people with good ideas than experts that could help them, and I hadn't proven anything yet. I just didn't have the right access.
My entrepreneurial spirit wasn't stifled. After all, I was a long distance runner and was no stranger to the motto "keep on keepin' on." My team and I had just won a design award for our work on the American Airlines Arena, and I had some savings in the bank, so I tried an approach a friend of mine recommended: hire consulting firms. It wasn't long before the hefty quotes came back and I was bootstrapping again. I just didn't have access to that kind of money.
It took me 5 years and everything I had to finally scale my first startup, and only 4 more years to grow 3 more before packing up and moving to the Bay Area. I broke through the access problem by building an amazing network of people around the world with my first startup and leveraging my connections on the rest. I had figured out how to get the right experts, with the right resources, at the right times, without having to hire them full-time or sign big contracts with their associated firms. We were scrappy. We kept the quality up and cost down, which made us highly competitive and able to win big projects with Coca-cola, Delta Airlines and beyond. Everything was just-in-time and we had access to expert guidance. The experts were happy too, they could get involved in a new and exciting project while monetizing their most valuable resource, their know-how.
It took a long time to build my network the old fashioned way, as my grandfather did before me, and when I began working on a new startup that targeted a different industry, I was basically back to ground zero. Only this time in Silicon Valley.
It was 2014, and I noticed on demand, online service startups were really taking off - and it wasn't just millennials using them. People were trusting these platforms to get what they needed. Their powerful matching, facilitating and trust-building mechanisms were adding value. In a single day, someone could easily hitch a ride on Uber, stay at an AirBnb listed property and hire someone to do photoshop gigs on UpWork. Yet no one had been able to provide a good solution for leveraging expert advice.
The "On Demand Talent Economy" had failed the elite end of the professional services market.
Some existing startups partially solved the equation by providing match-making services, but they were still not much more than directories that provided one-off calls. They give you a telephone consult and then you are on your own. They don't provide the structure needed for guidance and collaboration. They are failing to provide real access.
Thus TABLE was born. We decided to integrate the expert advice marketplace, or "Knowledge Network," into a messenger collaboration platform that would connect users with experts and others within our community. About 36% of smartphone owners use third-party messaging apps to access the people they know. Surely if users could easily find, book, and collaborate with the right expert on a messenger app, the access problem would be solved. Experts would be at their fingertips and on-going relationships would be guaranteed, managed and facilitated by the platform. We only had to add voice, video, screen-sharing and file-sharing functionality to enable the right interaction at the right time. It turns out we were onto something.
Clayton Christensen, the esteemed Harvard Business School professor who coined the idea of “disruptive innovation,” says innovations succeed if there is relentless focus on satisfying under-appreciated consumer needs. In professional services, this problem exists for both the experts and clients: Clients often can’t find, access or afford services at firms, and experts are looking for a better way to offer, bill for and deliver their expertise. They want independence, flexibility and the freedom to do work that is aligned to their interests.
It's no secret that accelerators are popping up everywhere. There's a huge global push for the Silicon Valley brand of startup innovation. Governments, organizations, universities and businesses are investing in programs to empower the startups that make their economies competitive and sustainable over time. But they still must create real access for their entrepreneurs. We can help.
At TABLE, we are passionate about taking a service that has been inaccessible, expensive and complicated for many people, and making it an experience that enables and encourages success. We have developed a solution that provides the entire startup ecosystem with access to each other and the expert resources they need simply and securely. We believe it should be easy to bring the right expert to the table no matter where you are, without wasting your time and money.
What's next? Experts will soon be able to block out available time on their calendars for consulting and offer free office hours. This will give especially-busy experts the ability to offer services on our platform, and will give startups increased access. Experts will also be able to quote startups multi-session deals for ongoing guidance and relationship growth-building. A schedule of high-level webinars led by our experts will bring startups everywhere closer to the Silicon Valley Experience, and our mobile apps will make it all even easier to access.