1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?
My name is Davis. I run a company that helps people to become management consultants. We’ve been around for three years as of this interview.
I’ve always loved creating opportunities for myself and others before I knew that was what an entrepreneur did. I grew up in a poor community in the southside of Atlanta, where 1 in 5 people live in poverty. The high school I attended lost its national accreditation and was called the worst school system in the U.S., so there wasn’t much opportunity where my friends and I grew up, so a lot of us created our own.
In high school, an ex taught me to play poker, and when I got better at it, I was able to make income each month for personal college expenses and sending money to my family playing games at the campus and the nearby casino. I also started three failed businesses in college along the way, but they each taught me the lessons I needed to make My Consulting Offer what it is today.
After college, I moved to San Francisco to work at a management consulting company called Bain and Company before I moved to Los Angeles to join an education startup.
At Bain & Company
While at the education startup, my family came into a $22,000 medical debt, and at the time, my salary at my startup couldn’t support that burden so, on the weekend, I started a side-business helping people get into my old job of management consulting. I helped students get interviews by working with them on their resumes and C.V.s and then prep them for their consulting case interviews.
That first month it was just 13 students and me. They all came mainly from the consulting subreddit, where I was an active member at the time. It was my MVP, and I thought it would be just a side-business I run on the weekend while I continued to work in education. But it took a life of its own. In management consulting, only 1 out of 100 people who apply get the job. All 13 of my first clients got jobs, so a 100% success rate. When you are getting people six-figure jobs out of school at 100% success, word travels fast.
And they soon referred me more clients, and three years later, we’ve grown it from me supporting 13 clients to a team supporting over 400 clients. At that same time, we also shifted our pricing model from a flat fee to a success fee because we believe in what we do, and it keeps our interests aligned with the amazing people who choose to work with us. And to make it more aligned with my values, a high % of the profit we make goes towards scholarships and funding for teachers and students in low-income communities, similar to my home community. So if I am not looking out for my team and client’s best interests, it means a community I support also suffers.
In terms of income, we went from clearing my family’s debt when it was just me to a company making over $100K each month now during the hiring season for management consulting.
It has come a long way from just me to now having a team of coaches to work with clients on their resume and interview prep, an onboarding team, and an operations team.
2. How do you attract and retain your customers?
Most of our first clients came from reddit. I was always a fan of Paul Graham’s “Do stuff that doesn’t scale,” so I was active on reddit’s consulting subreddit when we first started to get new clients. I answered people’s questions, fielded their D.M.s, and got on phone calls with many of them.
As we grew, our largest engine of growth came from referrals and partnerships we have with various schools such as Harvard and Yale. These relationships came as referrals from past clients who wanted to introduce our services and products to their universities.
We also do online marketing, but our focus is to turn everyone into a promoter of ours and refer their friends and universities. That is the best marketing we can have.
3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?
The biggest challenge for us has been keeping quality high. As we get more and more requests from aspiring management consultants to work with us, we only have so much capacity. If I overload the team with clients, then the quality will drop, and what makes us unique according to our reviews, “personalized 1:1 support” will suffer.
So the challenge has been how to keep quality high and not just hire more team members to make the “quick money” while the brand quality drops. I never want that.
So as a result, we have a structured process for hiring coaches that involve a 10-hour screening and training process before they can even apply to be on the team and then another training after they join the coaching team.
In addition, we have an evolving curriculum and supporting material that everyone uses, so no matter if your coach has been with us for two years or two days, you get a similar outstanding experience that continues to get better.
But I can’t say the idea of a curriculum or 10-hour training process came to me from Day 1. I made a hire in the beginning, and my clients let me know about it when I lost their business, and they didn’t get the results they wanted (a job and confidences going into their interviews). I lost so many nights of sleep from that one bad hire during Year Two, that I never wanted to feel that way again.
Changing over to a success-based payment and supporting low-income communities also has helped with that since we are incentivized to hire the best talent, to train them, and to build the environment around them so their clients can succeed.
4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?
If I had to attribute our growth to anything, it would be these three points.
First is caring about our clients and their outcomes. This is priority 1 for us. We have a rule in our company that if you wake up and there are more than one email that needs to be answered, you answer the one that involves the most impact to our current clients. So if there are 53 emails from people trying to work with us and one email from a client, you should be answering the email from the client.
Second is hiring the best team possible. I am such a slow hirer when it comes to any position on our team because I want this person to raise the bar for us, not just be another body in the business. This bar applies to people who work 30+ hours with us to a one-time contractor. There are so many times (including now) that I am leaving money on the table but not hiring fast enough, but that is fine with me because of our culture, and our attention to quality matters more than just quick money.
The third is the focus we keep. There are probably 10+ projects anyone could be working on from SEO to product to design, but there is usually the one most important thing. You should be working on that, and we hold ourselves accountable for that “one thing” we said we would be working on. We focus on what has the most significant impact on results and our company, so we aren’t distracted everything else.
5. What is your advice for those that are starting productized services?
My biggest advice for anyone starting a productized service is to care about your customers and clients. People are always looking for the latest marketing hack or channel, but the best one is the one right in front of you.
Our biggest marketing tool is our current and past clients; if you check out the My Consulting Offer review page you can see why.
But to it to where your customers love you isn’t done every night. It is done day by day, and it starts with day 1.
When I started, I did everything I could for my first clients because I wanted them to succeed. And today, I encourage our team and only hire people who feel the same.
So when you are starting, care about making a product or service that people will talk about. This doesn’t mean you have to have an entire product team or an engineering team. Our first version of our service ran though Google Drive, YouTube, and Zoom. A great product doesn’t mean you have to invest millions. You have to be invested in the success of the people you work with.
The productization part will come, but first, you need to start a great service. A terrible service that is productized is still a terrible service.
6. What are your plans for the future?
My goal for the future of My Consulting Offer is two-fold.
One, I want us to be the first resource people think about when they want a job in management consulting. This involves scaling our business while keeping quality as high as it is now.
Two, I want to make our team feel like, “wow, this is the best place I’ve ever worked.” This involves developing them, making sure my team feels empowered, and that one no one, including Davis Nguyen, is larger than the greater mission of the company.
The biggest challenge to getting to both will be willing to grow sustainably, so we retain our quality and our culture. But since our company value is about quality, I am not afraid of us “selling out” to make a few extra thousand at the expense of what is in the best interest of the people we serve.
7. Where can we learn more about you?
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