With a new feature that is attracting more users, Moncton-based Clarity is accelerating the development of its so-called “micro-consultancy” business that helps contract and knowledge workers complete jobs for clients.
Dan Martell, the serial entrepreneur who founded the company almost two years ago, said in an interview Monday that Clarity has exceeded its targets and is now ahead of schedule in developing its micro-consultancy. And its latest feature – a free service called Answers – is drawing more users and extending its market reach, which is only hastening the company’s growth.
“The vision’s always been the same – we’ve always been focused on allowing people to get advice,” said Martell. “What’s changed is how the product works. We’re spending a lot of time distributing the demand so not one expert dominates the discussion.”
Martell, a Moncton native who returned to his home town a few years ago after several years in Silicon Valley, formed Clarity almost as an offshoot of his own personality. He lives and breathes entrepreneurship and is rabid in the advice he dispenses on developing tech businesses. With Clarity, he’s allowing other experts to offer advice to businesses.
Clarity has an international directory of experts in several fields, and entrepreneurs can select an adviser based on their expertise and price level to help find advice for the problems they face. The company has handled more than 30,000 calls across 52 countries.
One problem that has occurred is members (the ones seeking advice) all want to consult the more popular experts. So the company has introduced Answers, which is a free service in which members can post questions and experts can provide fast answers and offer an opportunity to follow up with a paid phone call. Since it was launched a few weeks ago, people have posted 600 questions and only four have not been answered. On average, the questions have been answered within 15 minutes and received 2.6 answers per question. About 6 percent have led to paid phone calls.
Martell said Clarity has seen a spike in its business since it launched Answers, but in the longer term it has also found an interesting aspect of its market. Its members are not just entrepreneurs looking for business development advice. And experts are being asked about far more than broad business questions. Many of the calls involve contract workers, who need one piece of knowledge to complete a contract, or experts knowledgeable in a highly specialized niche. So Martell said the calls might involve such arcane matters as “configuring share point servers” or “customizing WordPress sites.”
Clarity is responding to this by changing the way it approaches this sort of specialty business and will introduce new features and a better experience on the phone calls as this niche business grows.
“We’re not just doing advice,” said Martell. “We’re doing micro-consulting now.”
In December, Clarity landed a $1.6 million round of investment from such noted investors as San Francisco area venture capital funds Baseline Ventures and Freestyle Capital and Mark Cuban, the flamboyant owner of the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA.
Martell said he has no immediate need for more capital, because Clarity has only five employees and is generating strong revenue. But he added he has had informal talks with “two dozen VCs” and will likely raise more money to expand the business when he judges the time is right.
For now, he’s focused on developing the business. Though he’s done 1,100 calls through Clarity, he finds he’s too busy to take many and now charges $1,000 an hour to advise people. “The funny thing is I could probably fund Clarity just by doing Clarity calls.”