Stockholm, Sweden-based startup Mancx today announced an additional $1.65 million in funding, bringing its total to $3 million for this round. That will help it cover the cost of expanding its offices to the U.S., which will help it spread the word about its commerce-based Q&A site and provide better customer service for its biggest target market.
Mancx provides a way for experts and those with valuable knowledge to profit from it, quickly and easily, which is something they can’t necessarily do on other Q&A sites. While plenty of people use Quora and others like LinkedIn Answers for lead generation, by showing off some of their knowledge in the hopes of selling additional services, Mancx is designed to close the loop, according to company founder and CEO and Henrik Dillman.
“We call it the ‘boring valuable long-tail of questions,’ whereas there are quite a few out there dealing with the fun, not-so-valuable side of things,” he said, pointing out how while Quora and others can act as pre-sales tools for consultants and knowledge workers of all stripes, Mancx is designed to be a full-scale sales platform for information that while boring to most, might be incredibly valuable to others, like competitive intelligence on rival businesses, contact information for specific individuals, and more.
Implementing that kind of model hasn’t been easy, however. The company at first had to deal with a tricky legal climate, since its platform ensures that everyone involved is paying their taxes, and that there’s transparency around distribution rights since there’s plenty of documents, charts, and proprietary information involved.
“What we’re doing right now wouldn’t have been possible from a legal perspective only three years back,” co-founder and CMO Mattias Guilotte said. “That’s because of international trade regulations changing, and the banking system getting more used to the model.” Also, Guilotte noted that Mancx also focused heavily on how to build and foster trust relationships with its users.
Part of that involves just allowing users to be assigned ratings by their peers and those who purchase their answers, since reputation is obviously going to be a big factor. But the team also anticipated that reputation wouldn’t always be in play, since requests can be very specific, and an expert may only find very few answers that their skill set applies at any given time. That’s why they also designed the site to encourage dialog, allowing buyers and sellers to hash out the specifics of what’s being asked, and provide previews and pieces of answers in advance. Guilotte said that in most cases, questions can’t be answered exactly as they’re asked; somewhat might know about three distributors of a certain type of product in China, for instance, but the question calls for five. Experts can then offer the answers they do have at a discounted rate.
Of course, Mancx’s model is nothing new. Paid Q&A sites are as old as Q&A sites themselves, and include examples like Uclue, and the tech-focused Experts Exchange. But Mancx’s focus on business answers helps it stand out, as does its efforts around pre-selecting answer sources based on the nature of the question, and the context around it helps it stand out, as does its emphasis on accountability and transparency, something not present in many of the early players in this space.
The money Mancx has raised will help it build out its new San Francisco office, which Guilotte will be heading up beginning in July. The team will also be expanding to add more stateside support staff. It’ll be interesting to see if Mancx can build a true, sustainable knowledge economy, in an area where many free sites have been criticized for not delivering enough depth or lasting value, but it’s definitely off to a strong start.