Outsized ambition: connecting financial services clients with right experts for faster growth

19th Aug 2017
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This Mumbai-based boutique consulting firm helps companies in emerging markets improve their performance by scoping out their projects and finding the best experts for them 

As emerging economies like India chase growth and development, the role of businesses and experts becomes more important than ever. Businesses need expert advice all along the way, but quite often don’t readily know where and whom to turn to or have the money to throw at the big consultancies.

This reality coupled with their passion for emerging markets jelled into an opportunity for Niclas Thelander and Anurag Bhalla who envisioned Outsized as a marketplace that addresses critical needs of business clients and consultants alike.

Launched in December 2015 in Africa and India, Outsized seeks to help companies in developing countries improve their performance and grow faster by closing gaps in skills and knowledge. It does this by scoping the requirements of clients and matching them with the right experts or consultants.

Outsized Co-founders Anurag Bhalla (left) and Niclas Thelander.

The startup understands the requirements of clients and helps them in improving the structure of their project as well.

In case a client hasn’t scoped out its project, the Outsized team defines the deliverables. It then uses a machine learning technology to narrow down potential firms or individuals that meet the requirements.

Though the firm relies on technology, it also does additional manual checking through bespoke offline outreach and referencing to make sure that they find the right fit for the clients’ needs.

“Once the searching is done and we narrow down 5-10 firms and give them to the clients who tell us which are the ones that they liked and then we facilitate a direct interaction between the client and the consultant. They need to have a conversation with them to make sure that the consultant is right for them,” says Niclas Thealander, Founder and MD, Outsized.

Currently, Outsized has close to 800 firms on its platform, which were onboarded after thorough vetting of their quality and track record. It has offices in Mumbai and Ghana, West Africa.

The early challenges

Niclas earlier led the value creation team at Leapfrog Investments, a global investment firm that invests in financial and healthcare companies in emerging markets. While working at Leapfrog, he identified the untapped potential of consulting services., Anurag spent more than ten years in the financial services sector across insurance, savings and investments, platforms and lending, delivering social impact, growth and innovation.

Self-funded for the first six months, the company worked out of coffee shops in London for six months. That posed a challenge as the company’s focus was emerging markets, especially India. They faced difficulties in stablising their presence in the Indian market until Anurag relocated to India in November 2016.

“India is a tough place to do business but if you can survive here, then you can start getting rewards. As a startup you have to survive and be persistent,” says Niclas.

Sourcing the right talent to meet client demands

Aiming to get the best talent on board, a team at Outsized undertakes thorough research to identify the different requirements trending in the financial services market. Once deciphered, the team actively starts searching for the best boutiques, individuals in those fields and gets them on-board. Most often, the consulting firm also looks for expertise based on demand-led requirements.

“When we get a project, we identify the trend in terms of demand and we ensure our supply side reflects that demand. Besides being proactive to find firms, we also have firms coming to us,” says Simon Martin, Director, UK, Outsized.

Revenue model and future plans

The startup has raised an undisclosed funding amount from four undisclosed angel investors based in the UK, India and Africa.

Going forward, the consulting marketplace aims to delve deep into the Indian markets and then replicate. Apart from delivering more quality projects in India and Africa, Outsized Group is also looking to expand its presence in the Southeast Asian market.

As for revenue, the brand charges an upfront fee ranging between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1,00,000 followed by a success fee for matching and providing the right fit consultant.. They also follow a commission-based model, charging 10-20 percent on a project basis.

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