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Is there space for consultancy services to startups for non-tech founders?

I'm running a web development firm in Sao Paulo (Brazil) for 12 years. The last 5 years we're focused on helping entrepreneurs to build digital business startups. We've been successful, we launched 5 new startups last year, couple of them are receiving great investments and we're receiving good feedback from these entrepreneurs.

What we're doing is basically our web services but with a good consultancy stage before, helping entrepreneurs to improve their ideas for digital environment. This is especially useful for ideas from real world which need to be translated to digital, but from founders without technical skills.

This is my scenario here in Brazil, but I want to know if there is space for my business model in other countries, especially Canada, where I want to open a branch very soon.

Do you know other businesses like mine? How do you see this approach in your country?

23 Replies

Mark Wing
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Mark Wing Advisor
Client Engagement Director at Small Back Room
This is common practice in the UK. Indeed, my own business covers similar offerings. As far as I am aware it is the same story in Canada, where we have had a couple of clients in recent years. The thing you need to be aware of is that some of the ground you cover is also offered by national and local government initiatives/incentives. These will vary from country to country, but worth investigating as you may even be able to tap into and/or provide services as part of their framework agreement.
Rafael Miranda
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Rafael Miranda Entrepreneur
Founder at Ultrahaus Startup Studio & Co Founder at QueroQuitar
Mark, thanks for your tips! I saw your company website and I liked it.
In fact, our companies are complementary, because my foccus is on technical development, normally here in Brazil we introduce ous clients to some companies to help with marketing strategies. We don't deal with marketing, just digital business model and product development (inclusive building the platforms, applications etc).

Sometimes we faced some advisors or investors who are against having tech team as outsourcers, that's why my question.
Gerry DeSeve
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Gerry DeSeve Entrepreneur
President, Climateon
Rafel, http://prostart.me/ does something very similar in India. Best of luck with your venture! Gerry - Gerry DeSeve President Climateon, PBC p. (267) 516-8532 e. [removed to protect privacy] t. @Climateonpbc
Fernando Cariello
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International Markets Strategist
Rafael,
I'm in the US. The US market has a business opportunity for every offering. If you cover the basics and your services have value, you shall succeed.
Your experience on launching start-upsmay be your key strength to enter Canada, as companies entering new marketsalthough successful in their home countries, need to have a Start-Up launch strategy. Consider to build local partnerships and outsource everything that is not core for your business to keep costs and liabilities down, sticking to a feasible budget.
Good luck!
Rafael Miranda
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Rafael Miranda Entrepreneur
Founder at Ultrahaus Startup Studio & Co Founder at QueroQuitar
Thanks for your thoughts Fernando and Garry.
Mark Buckle
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Mark Buckle Entrepreneur
Co-founder and CEO at Amondo Ltd
Hi Rafael,

My 10 cents...

I am that classic no-tech start-up boss who has just spent 12 months working with a digital agency in London to build an MVP and BETA. All good except a slow dawning sense that we should have committed to build an in-house team from the get-go (it's difficult for an outside resource to feel any sense of real commitment); then there's the issue of IP (which have managed to cover via full legals)l and, finally, there is investor perception, which in itself is linked to IP.

So there may be other start-ups, like us, who will only wish to outsource as a last resort, if we were to go through the same process again.

I wish you luck, anyway...

AJ Johnston
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AJ Johnston Entrepreneur
Owner at Law Office of Ann E. Johnston
I spent a lot of money trying to get a website that I liked. The personal commitment is a big factor in my book.
Rafael Miranda
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Rafael Miranda Entrepreneur
Founder at Ultrahaus Startup Studio & Co Founder at QueroQuitar
The commitment is really a big issue in my field.

We're having some great success cases, startups are giving us good feedback and the word of mouth between entrepreneurs are working best than we could imagine here in Brazil, all our projects bring us new other projects.

We're not an agency or a software house, our model is different, but you touched in a huge challenge for us, we have to solve this misinterpretation of our services and separate our kind of project and modus operandi from agencies and developers. They are good in their jobs, but our relation with entrepreneurs are making the difference in our business here.

My challenge now is how to show our commitment with results. Here we've experienced this years ago and I dealt differently for each case, some projects we invested together, another that we linked our revenue with a success fee or exchanged our costs by startup equity.

Anyway, good to feel your perception about this business.
Feel free to give me more feedbacks!
Andria Younger
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Andria Younger Advisor
Branding & Marketing Strategist for Startups and Entrepreneurs l Practiced Handed at Creative Project Management
Hi Rafael,

I'm a personal branding strategist. My clients are entrepreneurs, founders, consultants who are branding and positing themselves as paid experts. There is definitely a need in helping them build a digital business at an affordable price point. Most of them are not tech or digital savvy, I really like you include the consulting. A lot of entrepreneurs and paid experts leave money on the table because they don't understand the importance of creating a solid foundation to drive their branding, marketing, digital strategies to grow their business.

Andria
Akshay Rangnekar
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0
Akshay Rangnekar Entrepreneur • Advisor
Co-Founder and CTO at Source - Lifestyle at your fingertips
Hi Rafael,

I've been doing a very similar business for a couple of years in London - I think your response to Mark and AJ is absolutely on point and the biggest challenge that I see.

We're not an agency, and we think that working with agencies or development body-shops is often a route to failure for non-technical entrepreneurs. I launched YComplexexactly because I saw business school classmates and McKinsey colleagues spending way to much money getting a product out the door.

I think there's a massive opportunity out there, helping people who have the ability to execute to build tech-enabledbusinesses. In my experience so far, the people that see the difference between what you're offering and what they can get from an agency are the ones who typically have the capability to execute on the rest of the business.
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