Product /services: SMEs have been under-served by large consulting firms because the smaller value projects that SMEs can afford are simply not viable to support the business models of consulting firms. Mensch is an online marketplace where the demand for sound, pragmatic and sustainable advice by businesses is matched with the supply of high quality business experts from South Africa’s top business schools and business consultancies.
Businesses post projects onto the site; consultants are matched to the project based on skills, experience and preference. Businesses can then select and negotiate with the best person for the job. On completion, both the business and the consultant are rated. Mensch controls payment, ensuring peace of mind for both parties.
What makes our company unique?We are seeking to provide business advisory services to a historically under-served segment of the market, namely, SMEs. As a result, business owners tend to turn to unqualified advisors – their lawyers, accountants or family – for help. Often this does not result in optimal value for the business. By effectively depriving businesses from accessing top business talent, consulting firms have inadvertently been stifling a potential growth engine of South Africa’s economy, SMEs. Mensch levels the playing field by providing access to South Africa’s top business talent to any business at a price that they can sustainably afford.
Value Proposition: The SME segment is left un-served by the country’s top consulting talent. Consulting firms focus almost exclusively on solving the business problems of large companies. At Mensch, we hate to see businesses struggle when they could have access to highly skilled business experts who could take their businesses to the next level, at a price they can afford. Many business owners are excellent at their trade but lack the skills necessary to elevate their businesses. Furthermore, a significant number of skilled graduates and business experts would love to work on meaningful projects that would benefit South Africa but until now, they have not had the platform. Consulting firms charge their consultants out at rates that are typically ten times their hourly wage. Mensch will provide consultants with completely transparent pricing where the bulk of hourly billing accrues to the actual business expert (the consultant). Consultants within firms are not given the flexibility to choose which projects they want to work on but are rather allocated on an availability basis. Mensch will provide consultants with unprecedented flexibility to choose projects and timing.
Short description: Mensch is an online marketplace where the demand for sound, pragmatic and sustainable business advice is matched to the supply of South Africa’s top business talent in a sustainable and mutually beneficial manner.
Our team: Mensch was founded by two UCT GSB MBA alumni; we identified the need to broaden the opportunities of MBA graduates seeking meaningful careers. Thanks to our multi-year experience in the business consulting industry we understood the value of high quality consulting as an enabler for business growth, yet we could also see that there was something wrong with the industry. How could we achieve the impact that we strived for without addressing the challenges faced by a key employer of South Africans, SMEs? Since October 2015, we have been interviewing SMEs and other businesses as well as our fellow MBA alumni to further refine and develop our business model. We believe that our combined business know-how, talent, networks, experience as well as our combined vision position us very well to execute on our stated purpose.
Team leaders: Chris Kerr-Peterson is Cofounder of Mench. He holds a B.Com. in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (University of Cape Town), a B.A. in Creative Brand Communication (AAA School of Advertising) as well as a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), obtained at the University of Cape Town. Vlad Lakcevic is Co-founder of Mench. Vlad holds a B.Sc. (Eng.) Honours in Mechanical Engineering, a B.Com. Honours in Financial Analysis and Portfolio Management as well as a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), all obtained at the University of Cape Town.
Comments about #Hack.Jozi Challenge and our experience: #Hack.Jozi Challenge has been a transformative experience. While we have a solid base of business know-how, the competition has challenged our own thinking and has also accelerated our progress towards realising our business in a tangible way. The #Hack.Jozi Challenge team has facilitated brilliant workshops and pushed us to interrogate our concept deeply, which has resulted in a much more robust business model for Mensch.
Mensch transformed from an idea into an MVP (minimum viable product) in one week. We anticipate launching our platform within the next few weeks (regardless of the outcome of the #Hack.Jozi Challenge). This is truly remarkable and is largely due to the challenge and its outstanding mentors and coaches. A Mensch is a person of integrity and honour. Our vetting process ensures that we only offer consultants of integrity who strive to maximise the value unlocked for businesses by leveraging their skills, experience and, most importantly, their passion. In other words, a Mensch who can engage with their clients and stakeholders in a manner that promotes ethical and pro-social behaviour.