Like any great start-up, our story starts at Stanford Business School in California. Well, that’s at least where our two co-founders, Max Cartellieri and Andrew Heath, met while playing beer pong and getting their MBAs in the late 90s. Both developed their entrepreneurial spirits in the Valley and went on to start companies in their native Germany. Max founded Ciao, a consumer review and price comparison website, which he grew to about 300 people and eventually sold to Microsoft. Andrew established GoIndustry, an online marketplace that trades surplus industrial goods, which went public in London in 2006.
Andrew and Max had both built businesses driven by digital connectivity - increasing access to information (Ciao), and aiding the flow of physical goods (GoIndustry). Given their experiences, they set their sights on an exciting but yet untapped space: the flow of critical business knowledge. The two came together in early 2007 to start planning their next venture, AlphaSights.
Andrew and Max recognised that in today’s economy, competitive advantage is no longer derived from ‘real’ assets. Instead, it’s human assets - non-codified, experience-based knowledge held in people’s heads - that give companies and investors an edge. The mission was to build a company that would increase the ease and speed with which specialist professional knowledge could be accessed and shared across sectors and geographies. AlphaSights would thus help improve professional decision-making, drive innovation and accelerate progress.
Lisa from our New York office caught up with Max ahead of the blog’s launch: "If the vision was big, AlphaSights’ beginnings were humble - while we didn’t start up in the proverbial garage, AlphaSights was born in the spring 2008 in a windowless EasyOffice 2 x 2 meters in size. And what a journey it has been - we delivered our first project in February 2009, and rejoiced after hearing ‘wow’ from our first clients."
Growing to about 30 people, AlphaSights became operationally profitable in mid-2010. We expanded our global footprint to New York in 2011, Hong Kong in 2012 and Dubai in 2013. Now, in 2014, the firm employs over 200 professionals globally and was recently ranked the 3rd fastest growing company in the UK by the Sunday Times.
When asked to describe the company now, Max responds, "I'd call it an early adolescent - full of energy, somewhat unruly, slowly taking shape, and with all the hopes and dreams of a long and happy journey still ahead of it." What are we most proud of? "Observing how young, driven, confident graduates develop into accomplished professionals autonomously managing our biggest clients." And what lies ahead? "We will continue to push the boundaries en route to becoming a highly respected, truly global company that the best clients rely upon and the best people want to work for."