Thom McLeod, the Founder of Tenzing, grew his company’s revenue from $4.8 million in 2014 to $9.6 million in 2017, a 98% increase.
Tenzing provides experts with procurement, supply chain and operations expertise.
In this interview with Eversprint‘s Malcolm Lui, Thom shares how he and his team accelerated their high value sales by:
- Generating referrals from their happy clients.
- Generating recurring revenue via their work with private equity firms who have portfolio of companies, and large consultant firms who need help with execution and implementation.
- Benefiting from the growing acceptance of their independent expert network consulting model.
Malcolm Lui: Welcome to the High Value Sales Show of Eversprint.com. I'm Malcolm Lui, the Managing Member of Eversprint, and today we're speaking with Thom McLeod, the Founder of Tenzing, a provider of experts with procurement, supply chain and operations expertise. Welcome to the call Thom.
Thom McLeod: Thanks Malcolm
Malcolm Lui: Thom, you grew your company's revenue from $4.8 million in 2014 to $9.6 million in 2017, a 98% increase. Before we talk about you grew your company so fast, can you briefly share what your company does beyond my quick intro, and how your company differs from the competition?
Thom McLeod: Yes. We founded the company actually about 17 years ago with a very simple idea that was a very new idea at the time which is that some of the best talent out there even at that time were independent consultants independent experts if you will. And we knew a few of them and we thought we could start to build a type of consulting office. These independent experts as we began to build the economy started the change to more and more people became better connected via cell phones by the Web LinkedIn and so forth. And we were able to continue to grow this network of experts we had from 25 to 50 to 100. And eventually to a thousand experts. Now in growing we're adding to it every year. These are folks that we carefully recruit carefully. Carefully curate in this network. And who are true experts in their fields. Of endeavor. As you mentioned before procurement supply chain operations. What other areas now like I.T.. Finance. Marketing merchandising. And even. Even marketing analytics. So as you build a network of that size. That's also helped us grow. The top line markets. Because. Companies now rather than choosing. Traditional consulting firm. Very often want to have. Much more experience much more expertise. Sometimes in smaller packages maybe even an individual expert. Or individual. Interim Executive. That can help them. Analyze a problem Solve the problem and really execute a sustainable solution. So where does the growth come from. You grow the network you have more of the experts that your clients need and they keep coming back for more. So once they understand our model and its differences from traditional consulting it's very attractive very attractive a very attractive offering both in terms of what it can do and what the economic impact of it is.
Malcolm Lui: Now how does your company differ from the other companies out there that offer expert networks available for companies to tap into
Thom McLeod: Well we certainly do have a focus right now in these areas of procurement supply chain and operations but I think what's really different is that if you look at other ends of the spectrum for example the staff augmentation market it is a very different market than our staff augmentation is not necessarily where you go to get experts which is where you go to get capacity. These are people with similar skills similar compensation similar abilities to your employees who you simply add to who you currently have to give you more capacity to do work. So while our company has a certain aspect of it that is staffing it is not up augmentation the folks you would you would get from Tenzing would be much more senior much more expert much higher impact than what they do. The other thing that's different between us is a staff augmentation or for that matter the other end of the spectrum. Sure consulting true consulting firms is the fact that we have much more flexible way of deploying most consulting firms have a certain model that they operate with it's project manager staff kind of a pyramid shape our teams tend to be small and then when they're not smaller they're very flat there's no hierarchy on them and we can deploy these experts in very flexible ways we can deploy them like a team whereas a team like a consulting firm what we can also deploy them individually.
Thom McLeod: If you go to most large consulting firms they don't have a way of deploying a single consultant to solve a problem because our experts are so senior and experienced from industry experience they're also qualified to be interim executives and many consulting firms don't have the ability to second one of their senior people to a client for a period of time. We do that old time. So back I just had two calls about that this morning where the company realizes that they want to transform a function like procurement and they think what they need is a new leader. They know it's going to take six to 12 months to find a good leader. So an interim executive with experience transforming multiple organizations fits that role perfectly. So. Just in summary you know we're not we're. Not doing the low value stuff or we're doing pure experts. We're not. A rigid consulting firm that has a particular way of deploying and we're very flexible. And because we have senior experts there can be. Consultants In a manner of speaking and they can be the interim executives.
Malcolm Lui: Now is there any commonality between the teams in the work you do for example. Because it sounds like you have you said before I think you said yes you have over a thousand experts now that are available. So when a company has a problem how do you figure out which one thousand are the right right ones to bring onto the project
Thom McLeod: Well a couple of different ways. First of all one of the one of the ways traditional consulting firms are successful is they have standard methodologies and a standard team structure that they like and that's comfortable for them and they've been successful at simply taking a standard model and giving that to the client with no choice and no modification and getting an okay result. We approach it in a very bespoke way and involve the client in the process. When we talk to the client we talk about our capability around a particular issue they have in different ways we can deploy teams so the client can actually say you know I think an interim executive is better here or I think this is more complex I need a team. So we in a client code develop together a solution I'll call it an expert solution that will help them make the most progress on a problem. Sometimes no clients are more careful with their expenditures and they don't want to spend too much money too fast. So we might start with a very small team initially just to get started understand the situation and then add more resources as we in the client determine that that's needed.
Malcolm Lui: Now. You personally I imagine don't know all 1000 experts that or 1000 plus experts you have in your network right now. So how do you pick a team that you are confident will work well together and get the job done.
Thom McLeod: Well lucky for me I have a team that does this with me as I'm not the only guy that does it. So when we first got started my founder your partner Bill and I you know we kind of had to do everything but gradually as we grew the network we also grew our internal team. We have a great team and really our business now isn't just the sum of all the experts we know it's also the platform we've created that allows us to recruit attract curate that network staff engage with all these experts the thousand plus that we now have. So some of the principal functions we have on our on our internal team are recruiting we actually go out recruit more experts we don't have something a client needs we go out and we find it. The we have a staffing function that is literally the matching of the right expert or experts to the situation. It's our staffing team works with the client. And usually there's a partner involved my partner Bill or me or one of our other experts we have some of our experts that really function at a partner level for us. So we'd have an expert who's the let's say the practice leader for food distribution clients. He gets involved with our staffing team and the client to develop the right expert solution and also to screen and curate his corner of the network. So anyone who is an expert in food production food distribution restaurants goes through this practice layer to get vetted and he now knows who all those people are. So you know from our standpoint it's we want to know everyone on our network. And so our team has in every case interviewed that person screen that person and someone knows that person. We don't just stick people into our database and hope we call them something.
Malcolm Lui: Right
Thom McLeod: So it's a fairly high touch process.
Malcolm Lui: Right. So of the thousand people in your network how often are they working with with you on a Tenzing project that you have worked with clients
Thom McLeod: You know that that's the beautiful thing about about this model from just from a business standpoint. You know I oh I don't want to say it's uber for experts but imagine you know if you would ask that question of Uber you know how how often are Uber cars driving you around you know not very often late but enough for you. So what we found is that the more experts we know the more options we have for our clients. It gives us the flexibility of like person at the right place at the right time the all the experts we work with have other sources of revenue to they have their own clients they may work with other firms. So someone in our network may work with us quite a bit. We have some that have worked with us continuously for several years. Some that we may have only worked with once some we've screened and curated and brought into our network and for some reason may never call. So it's highly variable in that regard. But you kind of have to have a big network in order to have all the options that your clients need and adapt in every area that you will have someone available when they need it.
Malcolm Lui: All right. Got it. Can you share a bit about your three biggest drivers over the past few years and agree a business from four point eight million in 2014 to nine point six million in 2017. I know you touch a little bit of opine about how it's important having a big network but maybe you can discuss a bit more about what you think where the three biggest
Thom McLeod: Sure.
Malcolm Lui: Drivers
Thom McLeod: Yeah. Well there's a lot of word of mouth too. So you know in this business you know you happy clients tell other happy client their other clients about you. So there is a lot of word of mouth. I would say almost all the business we do today is comes you know I don't know if it just walks in the door but what clients come to us looking for something because they heard about us or we worked with them before and are calling us again. So what started to happen is watch what's normally a challenge in a consulting business is you sell projects which have a beginning an end then there's no recurring revenue. Well now what happened is we do have recurring revenue and here's where that comes from. We work a lot with private equity firms and we work a lot with other very large consulting firms. So other large consulting firms and these are some of the largest specimen consulting firms in the world are really good at what they do developing strategy developing recommendations what their clients need more their clients need help implementing those recommendations the clients need execution support downstream from the consulting projects their clients may need an interim executive or an interim leader and some function that that consulting firm doesn't provide for these firms now rely on us to bring us in to those situations.
Thom McLeod: If you think about it each time they call us it's a single project that these are very large firms that work globally and we serve them globally. So there are continuous source of requests and it's you know I think that's a perpetual motion machine for us. You know that's going to be a never ending stream of revenue for us these firms. Similarly private equity firms. So private equity firms once they get a feel for your model get a feel for your reliability. They always have portfolio companies that they're working on and you know most of the ones that we know or are always trying to improve in operations supply chain procurement. So we get those calls you know on a more or less continuous basis. So I think once we broke out from having to serve one client at a time or in the right to work with one client at a time and built these longer term streams of revenue that bumped our growth up considerably
Malcolm Lui: Right. OK. So. So the biggest driver one is word of mouth. You do great works. Of referring you. But then maybe the second driver or maybe there you consider it then the same. You found an opportunity working with key firms and very large consulting firms and they are turning to you for work for essentially recurring work that they themselves
Thom McLeod: Exactly.
Malcolm Lui: Don't have.
Thom McLeod: Exactly. And I would say a third thing to which is that the when we first founded the company this idea of going to a farm like Tenzing to get people that were independent was not a comfortable idea. It took a while to get clients comfortable with it but they are comfortable with it now. So I think the time is. You know we we were really early on the curve I believe. And so you know I would say in the last five years or so five to 10 years this model has become much more acceptable much more comfortable for them to work well.
Malcolm Lui: The
Thom McLeod: And
Malcolm Lui: Idea of
Thom McLeod: It came with trust trust. You know they trust the processes we've put in place to give them a reliable result.
Malcolm Lui: Right the idea of working with independent consultants and experts is becoming more comfortable with them
Thom McLeod: Yeah
Malcolm Lui: As
Thom McLeod: Exactly.
Malcolm Lui: Opposed to Before they did work with the big name global firms because it's safer right. It's like working with IBM
Thom McLeod: And you know and to great treat is still safer. I mean those are much larger firms than we are for sure but you know we're finding our our place in the market and like I said I think it's a real vindication of our model that you know you asked to our competition as I would say large consulting firms. But the reality is we're not competitors in many respects. They respect us and they are partners. So they see the value what we do.
Malcolm Lui: Yeah. It's quite interesting that you both compete on some projects that you also work together on others right.
Thom McLeod: Yeah exactly.
Malcolm Lui: And not different from say like contracting with the government. Right. You might lose the contract but then they become a subcontractor to those who win.
Thom McLeod: Yeah I've heard that happens I don't do a lot of work with the government. That may happen that way.
Malcolm Lui: Yeah. OK. So just to recap the three biggest rivals one did great work. So you're happy customers are keen for business with you or refer other opportunities to you. You identified an opportunity of getting recurring business by working with the large consulting firms and PE firms and then the third one is you register a company or a tiny benefited from the general acceptance of working with smaller independent expert networks and consulting firms
Thom McLeod: And on that third point there's a general acceptance of the idea. So people don't shut the slam the door in your face you know when we first understand it what there's this specific acceptance of our model that it produces high quality recruiting of experts and people that are well vetted and checked out. You know I mean nobody wants to think you just went out on the street and grabbed a guy and like you're you're some guy I know. So you know they they trust the process and the platform that we've created
Malcolm Lui: Right. Got it. Can you share a bit about what your plans are to grow your business further in 2019
Thom McLeod: Yeah there's a lot of interesting things that are that are kind of percolating right now in the marketplace and you know talk about sort of general things we're doing to keep growing. And then some some more specific interesting ideas that are just really in infancy because we have this platform now so we can you know even though our heritage is procurement supply chain and in operations the platform doesn't really care what kinds of experts are in it. So the idea right now is to say let's take the platform and build expert practices in other discipline areas. I mentioned finance before. We've built a kind of a protocol a prototype expert network in finance in I.T. we're now looking more carefully at areas like data analytics a lot of clients want you know analytical deep analytical solutions for various kinds of problems especially in supply chains as an example. So we're we're looking at building practices now on this platform that are better adjacent to the ones that we currently have. Some of the other things we're doing obviously the large consulting firms and private equity firms we've only begun to scratch the surface there and see the kind of growth spurt that you know that has given us. Well I think the more of those firms we we we touch get to know and get to work with. I think that'll continue to fuel our growth. The other the other a couple of interesting technology areas are emerging now that we want to explore and then possibly take advantage of that relate to our business.
Thom McLeod: So the ability to quickly find the right people is something that's for us very much of a human process right now. We know we have to know how to do recruiting. We have to know what a personal good you know the right person looks like on LinkedIn or on a resume. We have to know how to screen them and how to interview them and how to understand them better. But there's technology out there now. You know a high technology box you know machine learning that can help us do that more quickly. You know companies like zip recruiter do this now. So we're thinking about can we take a technology like that and apply it to the Independent Expert market so that when we put a search out for an expert we don't have it you know quickly feeds us back the right candidates a small group of candidates versus US sifting through 100. Another thing we had a call about this this morning interestingly when you think about block chain as a way of authenticating and certifying you know any object or asset you know could you use block chain as a way to certify the credentials and capabilities of an expert. Would that make the quality and the trust that people have in our network even better. So these are some things that are leading edge ideas and I think a lot of people are thinking about right now.
Malcolm Lui: Right. What do you foresee as the biggest challenge that you need to figure out and overcome in 2019
Thom McLeod: Now just in this year there was always big challenges every year. I mean I think everything I just said is is really that's our growth strategy and each of those strategies is challenging. You know how do you earn the right to work with more consulting firms. You know they they tend to think that they're pretty good at what they do. So why would they want to work with another firm if they perceive you as a competitor. They're not going to want to do that. But we are even with them within the relationships we have. They are starting to open up quite a bit. But it's a challenge to work your way through the culture of a consulting firm and earn the right to be a partner with them. You know even if some of the guys in that firm really like working with you there could be other partners that are very skeptical and you know most partnerships they with the partners make their own decisions about them. So you've got to win every heart and mind individually. So that's what's always going to be a challenge in private equity. Whenever we get into a private equity firm we do pretty well. We become a really long term client but are so many private equity firms it's almost impossible to get all of them. So the challenge of figuring out which ones we're going to work with which ones we can get to and serve I think it's going to be difficult then I had to get a real real challenge is other technology areas are not going to be you know drop in kind of solutions. I think we're going to have to work pretty hard to figure out how that technology might work and how to deploy it. I don't really know yet what kinds of people monitoring investments they may they may entail but I think they have the potential to really really turbo charge the business
Malcolm Lui: Yeah definitely. That's the thing now. So many of the people I've spoken with talk about the impact that I could potentially have on their business.
Thom McLeod: Right.
Malcolm Lui: Can you share with me a bit more about what you're doing now to find a big consulting consulting firms to work with and the tea shops that work with
Thom McLeod: Yeah it's not a very exciting story I mean it just kind of retail retail marketing really I mean when you look in private equity world private equity firms unlike other industries don't really compete with one another. They're very collegial. So in the private equity community if you know one person in that community they usually know a lot of the other guys in that community because they often work on deals together. So I think it's networking and private equity is the best way to get there. So we always we don't cold call anybody. We don't you know we don't shop office and try to get a meeting. It's always warm introductions. You know one person who knows and trusts us introducing us to another person that they know and trust and that is that the slow process that's a slow process. And it's hard to do kind of a big splash marketing and private equity space because they're not really they're not looking at the kinds of marketing tools you normally would. They're not looking on LinkedIn secure about Looking at advertising. So it's really it's literally meeting individual people one at a time. And working your way around. It's similar. You know I think with the. With the. Consulting firms as well so those are the two. Those are two things we're still focusing. A lot this year. In terms of growth. One of the other things we're doing from a marketing standpoint we're starting to take some of the some of the IP you know some of the knowledge and expertise that where experts have and publishing it.
Thom McLeod: So they may not have the wherewithal or the inclination to write a very lucid white paper on a particular topic but we have writers that can do that and will interview experts sometimes individual experts or maybe a panel of experts and we'll take their knowledge and expertise and put it into an e-book that e-book we can then publish on our website we can publish it on LinkedIn we can tell people about it. We can share and comment on it ourselves and that helps perpetuate our messages across all of our individual networks. And that's starting to produce some results. We've just recently. We just recently published an e-book on MRO Maintenance Repair and Operations supplies which is a very complex frustrating category of material to procure and most companies and we had a lot of downloads. We did a WebEx that was co-sponsored by scout our peak that had 400 attendees or 400 attendees. And that got a lot of looks to say and a lot of people downloaded it and we could follow up with them and it's already produced a couple of a couple of leads that were were in final discussions and even proposals
Malcolm Lui: Get
Thom McLeod: With quarantine.
Malcolm Lui: The best
Thom McLeod: So that's starting to get started to kick in as well
Malcolm Lui: Fantastic. Fantastic. I always get to see marketing efforts generate results for you.
Thom McLeod: Yeah.
Malcolm Lui: For now just to clarify you don't go too deep into this you did share how you go about making contact and engaging new PE firms to do business with you. You said that consulting firms is a similar process but then at the same time I thought consulting might be a bit less collegial than the P E firms given that they might be
Thom McLeod: The
Malcolm Lui: Competing for same projects.
Thom McLeod: It can be it can be because we serve we serve individual firms that compete with each other. So we have to be very careful about if one firm calls us into a competitive situation that we're not getting called buddy up by another firm it's competing with them. We can't serve both of them. So we have to do some push in there. But it's a little different with consulting firms because you know every PE firm wants to improve their portfolio confidence right. Oh I'd say almost every PE firm. But you know probably everyone does seek outside experts to help them with that whether it's firms or individuals that they know not every consulting firm partners or other consulting firms. So the first discussion we would have would be with the highest level partner in the firm who we may know it might be a friend or a colleague we work with long ago just to find out if they're open to the discussion and once they are it's a long series of discussions about how we work how we could work any more partners on board. There's very little very little opportunity to get one or two executives bite into something at a consulting firm and have everybody do it you pretty much every partner gets to make the decision. So
Malcolm Lui: Right.
Thom McLeod: I don't put
Malcolm Lui: So
Thom McLeod: Too much emphasis on that there's a lot more we do besides private equity and other consulting firms. We have a lot of our own clients too. So now more of our traditional referrals and following up with you know with with former clients is still a big part of where our business comes from
Malcolm Lui: What what percentage of your business do you think comes from referrals from existing clients as opposed to those that are coming from your consulting and PE work.
Thom McLeod: Probably 50 percent.
Malcolm Lui: Okay yeah I actually spoke with another company very interesting and they have a similar strategy and what they do is that they provide building intelligence services
Thom McLeod: Right.
Malcolm Lui: And they decided that they're going to target the largest real estate investment trusts in the nation right because they don't just have one building they have hundreds of buildings right and there are enormous
Thom McLeod: Right.
Malcolm Lui: And similar to you. They know that if they can get in and start doing great work for one voting it's likely that they will be on the shortlist for any other building that needs building intelligence. So
Thom McLeod: Yes
Malcolm Lui: You know when you when you shared your strategy at the P E firms and the consultant chopped up you go out and ask. This is a very interesting model that you're that you're targeting for your referrals from your existing customers existing clients are you proactive and getting the referrals. How
Thom McLeod: Most of you know in most cases where you know we're asking a happy client obviously if they're willing to be a reference if they have any referrals is always act on those
Malcolm Lui: Okay. Great. The US is a pretty casual and pretty unstructured or do you have a plan in place six months after we're working with clients who have rated as well on on our various metrics then we ask them
Thom McLeod: It could be a bit more structured than the deaths but say you know it's a habit. I would say we have but I wouldn't say it's a little possible
Malcolm Lui: Right. Okay. Three final questions for you. Say you were to have a billboard talking about attendings services. What would be your billboard message and keep in mind that people on a freeway to zipping by a billboard don't have about six seconds to read your billboard. So what would be your message.
Thom McLeod: Got it. Got it. I'd say experts matter might be.
Malcolm Lui: Experts matter.
Thom McLeod: Yeah I would share a couple of other interesting things to you as well. If if it's one of those things that sort of kind of can turn your minds you know on these on these issues. You know I've seen estimates recently about you know there's roughly 40 percent of the workforce today that's freelancers. Now a lot of freelancing is done in the I.T. area graphics creative but increasingly as we're finding freelancing is something that professionals do in more corporate type roles like the kind of roles that our people do. So when you think about any company that's out there hiring people and running and learning their their talent strategy in a traditional way they may be ignoring 40 percent of the workforce available. So you know if you think about another billboard could be you know you're ignoring 40 percent of the workforce in your company
Malcolm Lui: All right
Thom McLeod: If someone's willing to go that way a second lambs let's have a conversation about that. Right. So because we're after the 40 percent freelancers out there that are really talented they're very good at what they do. But no one's looking at them unless we find work for them. The second thing I found startling is I was talking to back to the conversation about you know talking to other consulting firms. I was talking to the CEO of a major consulting firm recently who had dinner with him and was describing our company and he said it's interesting time because I just I just had my H.R. people and he's got several thousand people in his organization tens of thousands actually go tell me what the average age of our condolences is at 26 to think about what it companies that go to traditional consulting forms are tapping a pool by the way. Brilliant hard working people who are mostly under 30 you
Malcolm Lui: Right.
Thom McLeod: Know and I'd say no age isn't the only thing that matters in life. That experience force is just someone who's got 15 20 30 years of real experience doing something is really valuable. And yet in consulting firms. By the time you have that many years of experience you're either a partner that's not serving clients or retired.
Malcolm Lui: Right. Or you went into the corporate world.
Thom McLeod: You might have
Malcolm Lui: So
Thom McLeod: Likely so you know a kind of you know I can imagine a lot of creative advertising I could do with some of them.
Malcolm Lui: Definitely
Thom McLeod: Maybe
Malcolm Lui: Another
Thom McLeod: I
Malcolm Lui: One.
Thom McLeod: Should inspire
Malcolm Lui: Yeah well another one I give you some other inspiration early on in our cover and our conversation you almost said we're like the Uber for experts but not quite. What about Uber for experts. Doesn't quite fit well with you.
Thom McLeod: Well I didn't want to get the idea that there's roving experts out there
Malcolm Lui: Okay.
Thom McLeod: Waiting for work you know like circling the block waiting to show show up. But
Malcolm Lui: Right.
Thom McLeod: You know it is the idea that you have assets. I mean the idea that you have assets and we have people with human assets obviously where you have assets that are underutilized and if people can have access to those assets as needed. You actually get better asset utilization think there's a lot of studies that show that when you have the movers and mover system you need fewer vehicles to serve the public than if you have a taxi system.
Malcolm Lui: Right.
Thom McLeod: It just more efficient. The other thing is. And again that is what I would like to distinguish in our business versus Uber. You know we're really like Uber block OK or Rubio premium in the sense that are you know our experts are heavily vetted they're heavily certified Whereas you know there's a lot there's the low end of the of the uber spectrum where the quality of the drivers the quality of the cars can be a little suspect. You know we don't operate at that end of the spectrum at all.
Malcolm Lui: Right.
Thom McLeod: So that's some of the distinction I like to make before people think of us as Uber. No
Malcolm Lui: Yeah
Thom McLeod: It's not exactly the same. But some of the principles apply
Malcolm Lui: Yeah. Has a nice ring to it. You said you provide an Uber like platform for experts. I think everyone would immediately get that right off the bat.
Thom McLeod: Yeah and part of my qualifications I don't want them to get the bad part of us because
Malcolm Lui: True
Thom McLeod: We we don't deal with that that you know we don't deal with that lower into the market at all. So
Malcolm Lui: Yeah. I told you here you
Thom McLeod: Printed
Malcolm Lui: And that one
Thom McLeod: The premium service it's high quality it's very very heavily curated
Malcolm Lui: Yeah
Thom McLeod: And that's
Malcolm Lui: It's interesting that your use of the word curated. I've never heard of curation being applied to people and their skills. But I mean I could see that's exactly what you're doing.
Thom McLeod: Yeah we're actually contemplating you know it's all it's already evolving this way we're contemplating mode we might even call them curators but we don't call them curators that'll be their function. So I talked about you know ah ah leader of our food practice. So I'm not an expert in the food industry but he is you know he knows what good looks like. He knows what the skills are that they would need to serve a client in that industry. So I want him to curate that network
Malcolm Lui: Right.
Thom McLeod: Want him to hire the kind of people he thinks his clients are going to need. I want him to recruit you know and screen people and put them in the right skill buckets. I mean that that work for him and then over time keep that going and keep that alive keep it Evergreen. Stay in touch with those people. So like you asked me before you know you can't possibly know a thousand people like Donald but as long as someone I trust on my team knows that person I'm fine.
Malcolm Lui: Right. Is there
Thom McLeod: That's
Malcolm Lui: A sense
Thom McLeod: The important thing.
Malcolm Lui: Size of your network where you think this model might not work. Like if it's ten thousand experts right you're going to have multiple layers of duration creating experts so you have curators who are curating the curator.
Thom McLeod: That's a really good question I hope I have that problem someday. But the thing that we're trying to be careful of is we don't want to just grow a giant network just have a giant network. We have to have you know we have to have the we have to have the demand. You know we have to have clients that are that are taking full advantage of it. So you're right. If you just had a big network and you just added the cost of more curation to make it a better network but you never could fully exploit that on the top line of your business. You'd just be spending a lot of money for nothing. So I think what we've achieved. It shows in our profitability the fact that we've grown the X we've grown the network and we've brought our revenue. Same time. So you know I do believe that there's really no limit to the size of the network. If you follow the same principles and processes that we have as long as you're making good use of it. The other thing that I've had some very preliminary discussions with clients who are starting to think about expert networks as a function within their company not necessarily our expert network but because we're now experts in experts. That's what I kind of think of us sometimes. You know I think we could really help a company figure out how to create a curated network for themselves that would have wouldn't have nothing to do with would our procurement supply chain our operations expertise as it might be in an entirely different area. But we know how to do it and that capability is something I think a lot of companies are starting to think about
Malcolm Lui: I imagine this could be especially useful in a huge company right Now IBMs of the world that have tens of thousands of experts within their ranks. But you know
Thom McLeod: Well
Malcolm Lui: People don't even know
Thom McLeod: Did
Malcolm Lui: About them right.
Thom McLeod: But.
Malcolm Lui: They
Thom McLeod: Exactly
Malcolm Lui: Have
Thom McLeod: Right.
Malcolm Lui: A way for them
Thom McLeod: What
Malcolm Lui: To find each other
Thom McLeod: We'll think of it this way too. I mean we're we're I'm seeing some of that interest developing is in the innovation parts of companies so the parts the parts of companies where they're trying to create new businesses. What happens when you're creating a new business very often it's a business that isn't the business you're in today. And so you don't have the experts in that business today. And before you go hire a thousand people for a little startup company within your within your company wouldn't it be cool if you could tap experts outside the lanes of response lenses of expertise that you have now to help scale that company up as you create this new innovation and you try to grow it so you can use networks I think flexible networks curated networks to bring in skills you don't have today scale up a business and then you can hire the people you need over time you have the right expertise.
Malcolm Lui: Yeah makes sense it's a way of ramping up business without making the commitment of hiring people.
Thom McLeod: Absolutely.
Malcolm Lui: So yeah very cool. And if you're
Thom McLeod: Well more more that more than not making the hiring commitment. It's that thing. I can quickly more quickly get the skills I need through vibrant network than I could if I have to hire them
Malcolm Lui: Yeah definitely
Thom McLeod: It takes a lot longer to hire people especially in a corporate environment
Malcolm Lui: Yeah I think you can also make changes more quickly as well. Right. Yes.
Thom McLeod: Absolutely. I'm hiring to this much
Malcolm Lui: Yeah.
Thom McLeod: Easier.
Malcolm Lui: Fantastic. Can you recap again. Who your ideal clients are and I think you're maybe three that you can go into if you wish your companies you consult with directly and firms you'd like to work with and
Thom McLeod: Right.
Malcolm Lui: Consulting firms like the
Thom McLeod: Yeah I would say you know any any company that was undergoing significant change either broad based change or change within it within functions especially our core functions that really need outside help and wants to wants an alternative to traditional consulting would be an ideal client for us. You know. Very often they're calling traditional consulting firms because they don't know who else to call Even though they wish they didn't have to call them. So we're just a fresh alternative to that. So if you're thinking about calling. A major consulting firm for any kind of an operational issue. You know you should at least take a look at our model and what we can do. As an alternative to that. I would definitely say private equity firms. Are. In this. In that category but they're sort of special in that category to us because. Our model allows us to. Create very impactful sustainable change on a much smaller scale. Than most large consulting firms do. So A lot of PE firms are buying smaller companies you know 100 million dollars 500 million dollar companies. And those companies can't afford or absorb large. Expensive consulting teams. Our very tight lean flat. Expert teams are just the perfect set. For that environment. I also say. On this last point you know companies that are seriously thinking about. Building. Their own. Curated expert networks. As. As a business model within that within. Their companies. Are Definitely companies we should talk to because I think we have a lot to share. In how one builds these networks how you manage them and how you you deploy them even outside our areas of expertise so definitely say those are companies we would love to talk to and share and share what we've learned because it's a very it's been a long it's been a long journey but it's one we've learned a lot. I think we've solved a lot of the problems that they would have to solve to be successful at this
Malcolm Lui: How would you find a company that's interested in building their own in-house expert network.
Thom McLeod: Y. If you if you talk to your dad knows that I'd be really curious I don't know how to know that about a company. You
Malcolm Lui: Yeah
Thom McLeod: Know I've had some people that know our our business introduce me to companies that were thinking of it but it's. It's not something. People post on their. Websites Like we're trying to figure out. I might support networks. It's a fairly new idea. I don't think too many companies. Are. Even really know where to begin The thinking process. I wish I did know maybe you could find out for himself.
Malcolm Lui: Yeah maybe I can
Thom McLeod: Yeah.
Malcolm Lui: Have it on the PE firm and consulting side. Who are your ideal partners that you like to engage in work with
Thom McLeod: Well you know we work with all the you know every size a piece on basically everything from the really big ones and I can name some of the ones we've worked with KKR. We work with KPMG Bain Capital and then the vast majority of PE funds are really a cap space where they're buying smaller companies and you know those are if it turns out they're probably more in our sweet spot or maybe we're more in their sweet spot than the larger ones the larger firms are still comfortable with and many of their companies can afford to go to major consulting firms. But the mid-cap terms really had a struggle with the cost of a traditional consulting firm in the model of people who really are experts. The 26 year old Will the Nationals are being those are kind of the ones we're targeting primarily
Malcolm Lui: And for for the consulting side. For anyone who's listening out there would you like to quantify or mention which sort of consulting firms you'd be happy to have a conversation with to see how you can help.
Thom McLeod: Well actually because we work with several of them I don't want to name any.
Malcolm Lui: Okay.
Thom McLeod: If I name ones we wish we were working with you know it would you probably figure out which ones we were going to name. But you know I think if I was making a general appeal to any large consulting firm that is you look at your capability you know if you realize that you do have you know a very know young teams are very capable but your clients just need more and they need something different. They need that senior expert that can execute and work on a problem for much longer periods of time 12 18 months even with a partner that can can do that and many consulting firms are already looking into it. They're trying to do it internally. And some of the ones that are working with us are just realizing they can't do it internally. If they've kind of given up on trying to be you know tried to manage these networks and they see us as a viable alternative
Malcolm Lui: Right. Does it make sense. Only not only. But to me focus more on the consulting firms that that are strategy oriented. As you mentioned before I don't want to do strategy. Oftentimes their clients want help with implementation going to be natural to have them bring you in to help the implementation side of things.
Thom McLeod: That is that is kind of a logical conclusion. So I won't say much more than that but
Malcolm Lui: Ok fair enough. All right. And what's the best way for all those companies to contact you if they like to learn more about how you can help them.
Thom McLeod: Well one way to learn is go to a website which is a Tenzing consulting dot com and the other way is to contact me directly over LinkedIn for example. You know Tom McCloud and I'm on there and I'd be happy to take an email from anybody or you can send somebody a regular e-mail to me at t McCloud at 10 technical things.
Malcolm Lui: Would you like to spell out Tenzing. For those who are listening and not reading the unity
Thom McLeod: Absolutely. T.M. Zee AMG Tenzin
Malcolm Lui: Right. And maybe share how you spell your last name because at least for me is a little bit different.
Thom McLeod: Shaw and M.C. L. EOD. By the way I said also I should also spell my first name teenager. That's a little different to
Malcolm Lui: Yeah. I want you do it again because I spoke over you a little bit.
Thom McLeod: Oh sure sure sure. So my name is spelled T H O M M C L EOD Tom McCloud. I'm on Linkedin and you can also get to meet your website trends in consulting dot com
Malcolm Lui: All right fantastic. Thanks for joining us today Tom in sharing how you accelerate your company's high value sales.
Thom McLeod: Thank you Malcolm I appreciate the chance to share the story
Malcolm Lui: It's a great story. It's really interesting how your you're in a way disrupting how the how consultants provide services to companies which is very cool
Thom McLeod: It's been fun.
Malcolm Lui: We've been speaking with Thom McLeod, the Founder of Tenzing, about his company's rapid growth. For interviews with other fast growing, high value sales companies, or to learn how we can accelerate your firm's high value sales through automation, visit Eversprint.com.
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