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Ask HN: Micro-consulting - is there a market?
15 points by helen842000 1475 days ago | hide | past | web | 15 comments | favorite
TL;DR - Is there are market for sharing skills e.g on a 1 day or half day basis. Shorter than an ODesk or Elance project, somewhere between a paid tutor, mentor or pair programming platform? Like a mini startup weekend for your own idea?


This follows on from this post..


which is discussing keeping seeds of ideas in a spark file, to be revisited at a later date.

I've been keeping an ideas list of my own for a while now. Every time I revisit it, I re-order it, starting from the ideas I'm most excited about.

Having looked at it today, I've not completed any of my top 5 ideas. The 5 ideas I have executed on were further down the list but were only started because I had the skills needed to see them through to completion.

For example, for some projects I'd need to work with an iOS developer and UI/UX designers initially to share wireframes, learn limitations and get feedback & improve in an area outside of my current skills.

Ideally it would be a collaborative effort with a target or deliverable produced at the end of each paired-building day.

I've used Elance and ODesk quite a bit and they seem to fall short. They work well when you can deliver very specific instructions and have relevant area knowledge, but what about creative discussion? Improving upon an idea needs to come before the execution! It seems counter intuitive to direct a project in an area you have little knowledge of. I know from both sides how frustrating it can be.

As developers or designers, would you offer your services (on a daily rate) to work with people that wanted more than just a freelancer to do it for them? So advice and execution combined?

I have a feeling that if this kind of platform was available - a lot of projects would get built!

I think if you could build a platform where specialist and short term capacity could dovetail into the process you may have a great idea. If somehow companies that used your service where required to use some standards like say gitflow, and an automated dev environment set up then you may be onto something. My though is if one could rapidly get someone up and running with a code base you could provide a system where specific defects can be dealt with by specialist, the problem is the labor involved in just getting said person up and running to look at the defect/feature. Having them pair is of less value because you are hiring another resource and loosing the capacity of a trained resource. But if that micro-contracted resource can rapidly bear tangible fruit, then you have a product that can provide personnel capacity on demand. I can think of three cases where this would be of value:

1) Company looks at it's backlog of lower priority tickets and says wow we need someone to just come in and clear tickets.

2) Company has a small feature that needs to be developed not really worth anyone's effort of going through a bidding process.

3) Company has a specific specialization needed and no one on the dev team posses said expertise. Such as we need a dev with a security background to implement authentication.

Again the trick to this would be to require a standard for participating companies. In the end it may have to be several standards for the different platforms, but the setting up of the code base and the workflow of tasks would have to be pretty standardized for the participating developers to be able to rapidly on-board for the economics to be there.

Yes! Spot on, exactly - "specialist could dovetail into the process"

I was thinking more for individuals working with individuals, mainly because companies have drawn out processes. I think the key would be speed and efficiency.

For your scenarios 1 & 2, that would be farming out lower priority tasks to someone who could hit the ground running. That's an interesting angle, especially considering the volume potential. It's perhaps a little too close to recruitment/emergency staffing for me.

My thoughts were more aligned with number 3, where you don't have specific skills, you have the benefit of working with an area expert for x number of days to complete a specific phase of an idea.

As I see it though, they are all the same problem, fix one and you fix all three. Granted with #3 a company or individual may be more willing to invest some time, but many times specialist jobs can be small and therefore the purchasing party may, in the end, decide that it is not worth the effort. Reducing that entrance barrier not only lessens the decision making for #3, but the others as well.

I like this idea and came at it from a different approach. I've hired odeskers before with mixes successes.

We were hiring some day laborers locally to help us load and unload a truck, went to a place, hired two guys for a daily rate, and at the end of the day that was it.

As a dev, I'd love to hire someone to consult with me for a day to walk through my app with me and help improve it.

I wonder if ramp up time takes too much, or if it needs to be limited to consulting only, rather than actual writing the code / designing psds work.

Is it possible for me to take a look at your app?

We've never finished getting the multi-user one production-ready. We've been using a really simple version to hire out our consulting services to clients for a year or so. It's just a simple checkout with different day rates for different services (consulting, designing, code)

Your idea is not perfectly clear to me.

My first impression was that you want to promote 1-day consultancy transactions focused on specialist advisory and/or mentoring.

My second impression was that it would be a idea grooming platform where people get together.

Which are you leaning towards? #1 may sound boring (actually, I find it cool) but I think it has a market, whilst #2 may have a greater appeal but you'd have to build some monetization strategy upon it (and it sounds awfully like co-working spaces for trendy startups)

My original thinking was close to your first impression.

Simplified down to it's easiest terms "1 day consultancy transactions" it does sound boring but I think it would be win-win for both sides. Quite exciting if it means you get started on an idea with the right people!

There's no reason why it couldn't also support people that just wanted to find others to work with (no fee) and share the project.

I wasn't proposing any kind of co-working space, just a platform of hirable experts!

I don't know about the creative side of things, but this would certainly be interesting for the "getting started" part of a project.

Client: Creates a spec for a website.

Consultant: An expert django dev sets up the website + deploy scripts and implements one or two models for you.

Client: Continues the project and can immitate the step and do the "grunt work".

Incidentally, I would also see this working with "employment periods" even shorter than half a day.

That's true! Even just spending a few hours with a particular subject expert could enable you to ask questions, check possibilities or even find there's a much simpler way to implement an idea.

Yet, having an idea doesn't necessarily mean you know what components, technology or skillset is applicable, sometimes it's tough to write the spec!

The way a spec is written can make or break a project - I've actually tested this theory on Elance, 2 specs, same requirements but different words resulted in project bids that range from low hundreds on one to several thousands on the other.

Sometimes just engaging in a short conversation (skype, email etc) can clarify a lot of things and help people to learn too! (That's why I'm interested - I don't want people to do stuff for me, I want to know about what goes into it)

Yes, I think so. It'd be a good startup. Think of it as connecting people by getting them to commit to working together on something briefly. Make it high quality participants with set rates, some tools/rules around pair producing, etc.

Thanks, I appreciate the feedback.

If it simplified exchanging skills & helped freelancers to jump into projects where needed, it could be great!

something like http://anyfu.com/ ?

Yes!! Thank you, I might give that a try!

http://Clarity.fm ...might fill a void as well

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