It starts with an Idea
I first met Johann Odou and John Persico in June 2011 when they approached me for coffee at Deloitte. They told me they had recently quit their jobs and had a vision that global Professional Services could be more valuable if crowdsourced. They saw opportunities to make professional services more accessible, transparent and affordable to Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs. They saw a major gap in the market between predominantly price-driven online marketplaces such as Freelancer and Odesk and the big professional services firms such as Deloitte.
I was impressed with the vision of these two aspiring entrepreneurs and distinctively remember them making the comment – “Deloitte Digital was the only place who would “get” what we are trying to achieve in online Professional Services”. To me it’s a great compliment when the outside Community recognised the vision and culture we have created here at Deloitte Digital.
Helping Ideas Develop
I invited the boys to the Deloitte/Deakin Open Innovation Workshop a few weeks later. Among others, it was a really valuable way to connect and learn from leaders in the Melbourne start-up, crowdsourcing and “online marketplaces” communities – including Leni Mayo (99designs, Flippa, Sitepoint, Learnable), Nicholas Gruen (Chairman, Kaggle) and Anthony Goldbloom (CEO, Kaggle). They told me the biggest takeout for both Johann and John was the power of open collaboration and the importance of designing “porous” networks and products (e.g. World-of-Warcraft). I think they also were startled by the power and reach of Deloitte Digital social media network – and how a single tweet can reach during the Workshop reached 80,000 people within seconds!
Soon after the Vumero boys spent a fortnight on an invitation trip to Silicon Valley in September 2011. They told me it was “eyeopening” experience – particularly to witness the dedication, passion and expertise within the start-up ecosystem. Relationships were also incredibly important. The trip also helped with preparations for Modeloff – the 2012 Financial Modeling World Championships (which Deloitte and Vumero will be putting on tougher with a number of other world class partners).
A Supportive Community
Upon return, Johann and John became one of the initial tenants within the York Butter Factory – Melbourne’s newest online digital co-working space. Having met with the guys recently, it is quickly apparent the positive impact an environment like this has in helping develop the qualities and thinking necessary to run an successful online start-up.
I was keynote speaker at the Creative Innovation Conference in November 2011 and again bumped into Vumero whom were scholarship winners and presenting.
Vumero launched in Beta in mid-December 2011. Here is a description of Vumero from the website: “Vumero is the easiest way to instantly connect and hire quality Finance, Business and Analytical experts worldwide. You can also crowdsource your spreadsheets and financial models. Vumero is professional services made simple”. Everything from financial modeling, business plans, industry research and VBA programming can be done on the Vumero marketplace.
Melbourne – Australia’s home of crowdsourcing and online marketplaces
Within the past decade, I’ve seen the Melbourne online ecosystem seed and support many of the most outstanding online companies in Australia. It is interesting to note that ASX-listed online billion-dollar marketplaces – like Seek.com, Carsales.com, Realestate.com – are headquartered here while leading crowdsourcing marketplaces – like 99designs (crowdsourced design) and Kaggle (crowdsourced data problems) – were founded in Melbourne. I think the vision and support behind Vumero is another example of the online ecosystem in Melbourne maturing.
Compared to Sydney, I have a theory that Melbourne’s love of crowdsourcing and online marketplaces is deeply linked to our much simpler geographic and social network. Whilst we don’t have the breathtaking views of Sydney, Melbourne can be traversed easily as a grid and people are naturally more resourceful. From a social perspective, Melbournites are warm and a well-connected community – everyone seems to have someone or something in common. How does that link to crowdsourcing? Crowdsourcing is a physical representation of aggregating minds and collective efforts. Taking a tram down Collins Street to get the opinion of 5 friends on your latest company logo design – how different is that to crowdsourcing (albeit online)?
I’m a big believer that success breeds more success. Vumero can and will continue to learn from seasoned local online businesses in Melbourne. And yes – a crowdsourcing marketplace does make sense in Professional Services. They will face challenges because the industry they are targeting is highly conservative and power is concentrated in “brands” – but they afford a convenient, transparent and affordable solution to clients in an inherently complex and relationship-driven industry. Perhaps this is exactly the kind of exciting disruptive innovation the professional services industry needs?
Originally published by Deloitte Deiginal (posted by Peter Williams @rexter)