I'd like to get people's opinion on how and where I can go about finding guns-for-hire that are experts in their field -- think: internal auditors, HR administrators, payroll accountants, network security experts, etc. etc. etc. People that want to get out of the dollars-for-hours grind and form a startup partnership.
Ideally the first 5-10 customers should come from these people, and those customers should be decently sized firms.
The thesis is you solve customers' problems with customized productivity software (this is the startup bit), but are initially introduced to these customers through a hands-on temporary services agreement (hence the need for domain expertise).
Let me know what you think. All ideas and any intros welcome. Thanks.
I would recommend LinkedIn.
Although, some industries experts are not available on LinkedIn. For them you need to figure out the other Community channel like Industrial trade forum, community events etc.
Feel free to connect with me if you required further help.
Subject matter experts are rarely a good source of customers, especially at big firms, and especially in their field of business.
They often deal with many lousy and mediocre service providers. You will be critically questioned in every aspect of your offering, compared with competitors, etc.
SMEs are not decision makers at large firms and they will avoid recommending a new, unproven product to decision makers.
There are exceptions, but you'd have to have a very promising product and offer an unbelievably good deal that won't bring you much revenue (revenue should not be your focus at that phase though).
SMEs do make good startup partners. Especialy SMEs that have net worth at the level where they do not need reliable stable income. You will still be critically assessed before you get any commitment.
Consider attracting your SMEs from late-stage start-ups or post-IPO companies.
What you're describing sounds like the people who work for consulting firms like Booz Allen Hamilton and others. Booz hires SMEs with significant credentials, and then assigns them on a project basis to solve client issues. Typically they work for a consulting firm because they like being experts, not being salespeople. And they don't find the hours a grind, they find the reliability of steady income better than the unpredictability of having to market themselves, compete with consultancy firms, and not have a steady stream of work.
Those who are interested in being independent consultants (such as your partnership) typically work for themselves in a single expertise area and aren't interested in joining a collective, otherwise they would have joined a consultancy firm. Clients don't tend to be full-service, meaning they hire temporary services for a single area, not multiple, so those "partners" bringing you customers isn't actually bringing you customers. They're just handing over business they could have kept for themselves. I know each time I have hired out expertise, it is a limited scope and there is no departmental crossover. I prefer very narrow specialists, not a full range of expert services.
It sounds like you're re-inventing the wheel a bit, and not in a new/different way. Do some homework and make a list of your assumptions for this business idea, then go test those assumptions to make sure you are not guessing incorrectly.