Business Plan of the Year 2011

MBA & Co

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MBA & CoFounders: Daniel Callaghan Year started: 2009 Website: www.mbaandco.com

Traditionally, if a company wanted to hire MBA-level talent, a management consultancy would be its first port of call. MBA & Company offers another way. Founded in March 2009 by Daniel Callaghan, MBA & Company is an online marketplace where businesses can post freelance consultancy jobs, which business school post-grads such as MBAs, PhDs and professors can then bid for. At the same time, freelance post-graduates can gain additional income, contacts, experience and credibility though an eBay-style feedback system.

Projects cover everything from 10 hours of internet research to six-month market analysis, and MBA & Company earns a success fee for each commission, based on the total value of the project.

Having just finished his own MBA, a cash-strapped Callaghan launched the business with just £1,000 in 2009. From this initial investment, the network has grown to encompass more than 8,000 post-grads in over 100 countries, with projects successfully brokered in Russia, America, China, Brazil, France, and many others. Meanwhile, clients have ranged from start-up businesses to FTSE 100 firms and government departments.

Growth was catapulted by a successful funding round in 2010, with investment raised from several European Seed funds. The company's comprehensive business plan, which clearly defines the market opportunity and the strategy for capitalising on it, was no doubt integral to the fundraising, which has helped the business to smash through its first-year financial forecasts. Breaking even three months ahead of schedule, it is now on track to turn a healthy profit in 2012.

Judges' comments: This was an unusual situation for the judges, and took up more judging time than normal. MBA & Company is a young business which has already generated substantial revenue serving both blue-chip and smaller business clients. It supplied a very good business plan for an excellent business which the judges expect to grow impressively in future.

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