Microsoft has agreed to partner with HourlyNerd, a start-up connecting MBA students as hourly consultants to small business owners, HourlyNerd announced on Tuesday.
HourlyNerd, which grew from a Harvard Business School class project last year, is backed by private investors including Mark Cuban. Business owners use the site to request consultants for specific projects, and MBA students or graduates from top universities can bid with hourly rates. Consultants often charge $10 to $100 an hour, but can set their own prices. Hourly Nerds takes a percentage cut of transactions, and keeps consultant payments until after the project is completed. Projects often include Web site redesigns, salary and expense calculations, or strategy and marketing campaigns.
The partnership is intended to allow Microsoft’s small and medium business partners — who often resell Microsoft’s software and IT services — to access Hourly Nerd through Microsoft’s Web site. More details are to be announced in January.
“Our partners’ businesses come in many different shapes and sizes. Many of them are [small and medium businesses] themselves without the resources to invest in full time marketing and business development staff,” Cindy Bates, Microsoft’s vice president of U.S. small and medium businesses, said in a press release. “We’re excited to be able to help our partners accelerate their growth by providing them access to innovative services like those offered by HourlyNerd.”
HourlyNerds clients taken about $10 million in revenue a year on average, HourlyNerd co-founder Pat Petitti said in an interview, but range from pre-revenue start-ups to companies with more than a hundred million dollars in revenue.
“We like to think of ourselves as a replacement to potentially hiring a consulting firm. For most businesses, it’s simply not an option,” said co-founder Peter Maglathlin.
Since its founding last year, HourlyNerd has connected about 1,000 companies with 2,000 students and graduates.