Pickagenius Allows Startups To Pick Experts’ Brains

By Conor Rushby |

For sharpening up your business concept, the expert advice on offer at pitching events is very valuable. Sadly competition judges can’t be on hand to guide startups through all their trials and tribulations. Frankfurt based pickagenius hopes to improve this state of affairs by providing expert counsel from its new advice platform so you don’t have to wait until someone worth listening to is in town.

As well as providing business knowhow, people can find advice on a wide range of topics – from sex to spirituality. Users simply book a session, and then communicate over the platform’s video, instant messaging and audio plugins.

Having launched in beta earlier this month, so far the site is trying to attract geniuses rather than users. When enough are on board, the platform will be opened up. A total of 80 (including, for example, Daan Lönig of Kinderfee) have so far signed up for categories including business, psychology, new in the city, computers and Internet, film, arts, veterinary medicine, style and fitness.

Anyone can enlist to be a genius, but before they can start impairing their wisdom, administrators check to ensure there is enough information on their profile. Geniuses also have the option of uploading certificates of qualification. That means if you’re dealing with a doctor, you have evidence they have some idea what they’re talking about. Credibility also comes from community ratings, which means that it will be a few months yet before users can find sources of consistent genius – while a lot will depend on whether the site can attract enough geniuses to offer users some choice in the first place.

Yet there are already online services for getting tips and hints. JustAnswer is a prominent medical advice platform, while Yahoo Answers lets members of the public share their two cents. But co-founder Chiara Sommer thinks pickagenius’ personalised advice by rated experts will be much more appealing to those in need.

She said: “If we can attract more experts from the startup scene, we would love to focus on that. But the great selling point of pickagenius should be answers to anything – so people can get and give advice in all fields of expertise.”

Ambitious, but Chiara hopes to enlist experts by offering financial incentives – they can opt for the user to watch an advert, and in turn receive revenue from this, or alternatively, they can charge for their services. Rates start at €0.20 a minute, but with every positive rating it increases by €0.10 until the expert hits their desired rate, with pickagenius taking a cut. With a certificate of qualification, experts can charge what they like from the word go.

Interestingly pickagenius is also a family business. Chiara’s father Dan owns JDS Sommer and is co-founder and investor, Chiara’s sister Denise is the designer, while her other sister Janine is a vet, and is working at recruiting other veterinary experts to the site. She said: “We live all over the world but are very involved in each others lives so it’s a lot about helping each other out. My father is the most relaxed guy in the world so he adds a lot of balance.”

So if you fancy yourself a bit of a guru there’s a pedestal up for grabs when the site eventually fully launches.