Business Talent Group: Growing the Market for Independent Business Talent

By Robert Chess, Ryan Kissick
2017 | Case No. E621 | Length 26 pgs.

In 2007, Jody Greenstone Miller founded Business Talent Group (BTG), a company that connected top independent professionals, including consultants and executives, with global companies for project-based work at a lower cost and with more precision than traditional consulting.  From BTG’s inception, Miller and cofounder Amelia Warren Tyagi believed that the way people work—and the way companies use talent—was changing for several reasons.  High-end business professionals were growing weary of the commonly accepted notion that in order to succeed in one’s career, it was necessary to work 60 to 80 hours per week.  In addition, the increasing scope and complexity of business around the globe meant that firms were competing across multiple industries and geographies, with products and services launching at a faster pace than ever before.  As such, companies demanded human capital with targeted skills and knowledge, as well as workers who could take on specific, time-sensitive projects.  Moreover, improvements in technology, including the widespread use of e-mail, smartphones, cloud computing, and video conferencing, allowed individuals to work effectively from almost anywhere in the world.

Given these trends, BTG’s mission was “to bring together the world’s top companies and independent professionals to enhance business performance and improve people’s lives.”  Although BTG encountered some early resistance from companies that were skeptical about the idea—and quality—of independent talent, it did not take long for the BTG model to gain traction.  Companies were increasingly convinced of the value proposition associated with utilizing high-end, independent business talent, and the market for independent professionals grew rapidly.  Not surprisingly, this growth attracted an influx of new competition.  “Business Talent Group: Growing the Market for Independent Business Talent” explores the challenges BTG faced as it pioneered the market for high-end business talent in the U.S.  For nearly a decade, BTG did the heavy lifting to establish the market for high-end, independent business talent.  Yet in 2017, the company found itself under attack from a variety of start-ups with deep financial pockets.  Miller and Tyagi knew that BTG would need to continue evolving to retain its status as a market leader.

Learning Objective

Learning objectives addressed in this case include: testing and scaling a new business idea; hiring the right team for growth; raising money; prioritizing new customers and markets; balancing the social mission of the company with specific business needs; and competing with various upstart competitors in a rapidly growing industry.
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