I’m launching a new business here in Minneapolis to help companies execute their digital transformations better. Meet Fähren LLC.
We’re starting Fähren to make it easier for company leaders to get the short term, executive-level digital leadership they need. Our model might seem familiar. There are plenty of firms that provide interim CFO’s, CMO’s, or other executive leadership. I don’t see many that do the same for senior digital talent: VP of Digital Marketing, Chief Digital Officer, VP/Dir of Digital Product Management. So, we’re building it.
Ultimately, we’re in the talent business. We’ve got it, we’ll make ours available to you, we’ll help you find some to hire and we’ll help you develop your own.
We’ve got a couple broader, longer term ambitions (ask me about my new cryptocurrency for the talent market), but for now it’s a good old fashioned professional services company.
How hard can that be?
Just kidding. We know how risky starting a new business can be, but we think this is the right business at the right time.
Why Now? The Transformation of Business is Still In the Early Phases
We believe there’s never been a better time to be building digital products, marketing brands, or building teams of creative technology experts. Businesses have incredible new opportunities in front of them, whether it’s new business models, new product/offering opportunities, new ways of working, and a wealth of data to guide their decisions.
But it’s still early. We believe we’re in the first era of a longer revolution in how people organize themselves for work, how companies operate and how organizations solve everyday problems with digital technology. To use a baseball analogy, i think we’re in the 2nd inning of a nine inning game.
What We’re Seeing in the Market
It’s a pretty topsy turvy marketplace to enter into. But, we’re building this company for leaders who are being challenged a couple macro-trends.
Digital Transformation: We’re seeing an enormous amount of energy and money going towards, broadly speaking, the digital transformation (1) of most organizations. Globally, companies spent $23BB with management consultants on their digital transformation efforts in 2016, with over 52% seeking faster growth (as opposed to efficiency). When you include costs of technology and system integration, the total market size for “digital transformation” is huge: According to Zion Market Research, it will be over $400BB by 2021. This catch all category doesn’t include the rapid conversion of media budgets towards digital, the rise of e-commerce and the investment companies are making in the training and education of their most valuable leaders.
Insourcing Transformation: While much of the attention around “Digital Transformation” has focused on the spend with consultants and technologists, we’re seeing some of the best results come from companies that are bringing their transformation efforts in-house. Whether it’s through “labs”, innovation programs, or developmental experiences for their key leaders, smart C-level leaders are investing in bringing the transformational stuff in house. Even the marketing capabilities that had been outsourced – media buying, creative, strategy – are coming in house as a way to push digital advantage.
The Rise of the Gig Economy: We’re betting that the best talent would prefer to be working for themselves. Working for yourself may make more sense financially than that 9-5, or perhaps you don’t want to put your faith in someone else’s company. We believe some of the best talent wants the flexibility and the autonomy that come with consulting, but would like to avoid the hassle that comes along with being independent.
The Real Opportunity: A Leadership Gap
There’s still so much to do and that’s exciting to us. This is an enormous moment in human history, but history gets made by people willing to take a chance, to employ new tools, to work differently. Inside every forward thinking company is a motivated leader that knows that with the right team they can change the course of their organization. For those leaders to be successful, they need experienced talent around them.
We’re building our company for them. We’re here to help leaders position their companies to grow and win in a time of accelerating change. We do that by helping them get access to the talent they need to go faster with confidence.
Where we’re starting
We’re building a small team of senior consultants who can fill a gap we see in the consulting marketplace: those who have strategic digital leadership experience as well as operational experience. Think: Sr. Director/ VP level leaders.
We’re going to help our clients with a few specific needs:
- Interim Leadership – Orgs looking for experienced, talented leaders who know digital and can fill a role on an interim business. Maybe it’s covering a maternity leave, or filling in when there’s an unexpected absence. Some efforts can’t miss a beat.
- Extra Talent – We’re seeing organizations seek extra talent to help drive strategic digital efforts that can’t or shouldn’t be outsourced. These projects may take a couple months or a whole year and the leaders want the work done in-house, but they don’t have the internal talent to do it. They’re looking for experts that can be part of the team, temporarily.
- External Catalyst – We’re seeing organizations look for ways to engage individuals who can bring unique perspective, desired skills and viewpoints to bear on a high performing team. One person said to me “It’s like adding Kyrie Irving to your D1 basketball team. Everyone gets better.”
We’re Organizing for Talent
We plan on starting small and building a team over time as we find the right talent to fit our needs. To attract and retain the best talent, we’re building a unique financial model for experts who want to go indy, but who are looking for ways to share in the upside of a growing organization. Operationally, Fahren will designed to ease some of the burden of going solo: We’ll provide key business support for legal, accounting, marketing and business insurance.
In the future, we plan on offering training and professional development programs for our clients, our consultants and the public. Think of it as the kind of nerdy community education you always wanted, but couldn’t find.
Let’s talk! We’re up and running, sending invoices and proposals, but we’d love to hear about what you’re working on and see how we might be able to help.
(1) I realize that’s become such a generic term that it doesn’t mean much, but i’ll share our take on it soon.