Expert360 raises AU$13m in Series B round led by AirTree VC

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james-cameron-bridget-loudon-emily-yue-daniel-petre.jpg

L to R: James Cameron, Bridget Loudon, Emily Yue, and Daniel Petre.

Image: Supplied

Expert360, a marketplace connecting businesses with independent consultants, has announced raising AU$13 million in a Series B round led by AirTree Ventures.

The latest round brings the total amount raised by the Sydney-based startup to AU$21 million.

The funding will be used to support ongoing international expansion, as well as the development of new features and functionality that grant businesses more control, and the ability to recommend or refer consultants for a job via the Expert360 platform.

Additionally, Expert360 wants to provide the ability for businesses and consultants to communicate “more freely” before a job is scoped out, as well as provide additional tooling for consultants to manage their pipeline.

Founded in January 2012 by former Bain & Company management consultants Bridget Loudon and Emily Yue, Expert360 allows businesses to access independent consultants for project-based work, starting at a cost of $1,000, with the largest project valued at $700,000.

The online marketplace features a curated selection of more than 15,000 consultants across 90 countries, with Australia, Singapore, and the US being Expert360’s top markets.

Loudon previously told ZDNet that moving into a freelance or contractor-type employment arrangement is occurring rapidly in the consulting world.

“Talent is not in the traditional pools — it’s not in places people used to look for them and recruiters can’t find them. It’s difficult to know from LinkedIn, and it’s all happening at a far greater scale and at a far greater speed than anyone can manage through their own network — which is how people used to do it,” Loudon said.

She added that while the co-founders set out to connect consultants with businesses, they stumbled on a rare dataset containing information on individuals about the projects they’ve worked on, as almost a side effect of what their platform was doing.

“Better than LinkedIn, better than Google — taking the collective knowledge about what people know about, how people performed, and bringing that together in one place,” Loudon explained.

“We started building the service and what we realised was that we had this incredibly rich and unique pool of data that really was a driving force behind us helping make matches for people.

“We never set out to create a data company, but that’s what we are.”

The startup counts Australia Post, BHP, Coca-Cola, Commonwealth Bank, CSIRO’s Data61, Qantas, Virgin, and Woolworths as customers, along with 450 others.

AirTree’s co-founder Daniel Petre, who previously served as managing director for Microsoft Australia, will be joining Expert360’s board of directors.

Expert360’s other investors include Frontier Ventures, Rampersand, and former Macquarie chief Allan Moss.

AirTree, which raised AU$250 million making it Australia’s largest VC fund, has also invested in companies such as Canva, Prospa, 90Seconds, and Paxata.

Last quarter, a near-record amount of money, $230 million, was invested in Australian startups across 36 deals, according to professional services firm KPMG. This was up from $90 million in Q1 and $181 million in the previous corresponding quarter in 2016.

VC funds in Australia raised more than AU$1 billion for the first time in the 2016-17 financial year, up from the AU$568 million raised in 2015-16, according to data from the Australian Private Equity & Venture Capital Association.

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