Why Hire an MBA When You Can Easily Rent One?

Linio, an e-commerce startup based in Mexico City, couldn’t afford Bain or McKinsey when it needed help pricing new products ranging from vintage wines to billiard tables. So this summer it farmed the work out to Anya Rasulova, a 2013 Wharton School MBA who was looking to make some money before starting a full-time job at EBay(EBAY). “We had so many things to develop in a short period of time,” says Bernardo Cordero, Linio’s managing director. “It was too complicated to do it all internally.” Cordero paid Rasulova, who worked in management consulting for three years prior to business school, $1,500 for an assignment that took about 35 hours. He estimates a small consulting firm would have charged $20,000.

A growing number of companies are using freelance MBAs to access the same brain power they might find at a top-tier consulting firm. The demand has given rise to online marketplaces that are a cross between executive search agencies and freelance job sites—where the featured contractors are skilled at financial modeling, competitive analysis, and marketing.

The services are especially popular with startups, small businesses, and enterprises operating on lean budgets. “Companies can choose someone who is hyperspecialized and work with them only for the exact amount of time that they need to,” says Daniel Callaghan, the chief executive officer of MBA & Co., a London-based online staffing service. More than 98 percent of the 16,000 contractors listed on its website hold a postgraduate degree; 35 percent have worked at consulting and financial firms. Linio’s Cordero found Rasulova through Skillbridge, a New York-based site started in May by a pair of MBAs fresh out of Wharton. Two-thirds of the 300 freelancers listed on Skillbridge have an advanced degree.

To get listed on these sites, professionals submit their résumés to be vetted. When a company posts a project online, the site comes back with a list of qualified specialists who have been singled out for the job. The marketplaces charge companies a commission from 10 percent to 20 percent.

Read more : http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-10-24/why-hire-an-mba-when-you-can-rent-one

Zlomek is a reporter for Bloomberg News in New York.

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