Scientists are always using new equipment and software or learning new experimental techniques. They frequently run into problems and need help to get “unstuck”. Surprisingly, options for finding help are limited, as online documentation is poor and finding the right person to talk to might be difficult. Imagine: You are a scientist about to make a breakthrough in your search for a new cancer drug, but the cells in your experiment are dying unexpectedly, or your new cell counting software isn't working correctly. You could spend weeks troubleshooting alone, or sending cold emails to other scientists. This wastes precious time that could be spent moving forward. The problem is that scientists have no easy or efficient way to find other scientists who have the specific (and often niche) expertise they need to move forward with their science.
This is why we're creating Scipertise: an online marketplace for scientists to connect via video chat. Scientists can direct message and book video chats with experts who have a wide range of skills in various domains. By using Scipertise, anyone who needs advice or technical guidance can receive it in hours instead of weeks or even months, speeding up their research. Customers can browse profiles of experts (graduate students, fellows, or principal investigators who specialize in various skills or research fields) and find a scientist who has the expertise they need. Scientists sign up to act as experts and set their hourly rate and the times they might be available each week. Users can connect with an expert via direct message and book a time to video chat with them through our platform. Scipertise incentivizes scientists to exchange skills because scientists who act as experts can set their own rates and be compensated for their time, resulting in a win-win situation for the scientific community.
Our target customer is a scientist or trainee (at the graduate or post-doctoral level). Collectively, we refer to these individuals as ‘researchers’. We have interviewed several hundred researchers, and estimate that 90% of researchers need help when they “get stuck” on a new techniques, method, or analysis. There are approximately 30 million researchers worldwide. Based on our customer interviews, we expect researchers will spend a minimum of $300/year. For example, a customer might get stuck on a problem three times per year and book two sessions with another researcher at $50 each to help solve each problem (2*50)*3=300. Researchers report they are willing to pay for the support either out-of-pocket or via compensation from their lab funds/grants. Since we expect 90% of researchers will be interested, and Scipertise will take 15% of each transaction, the market value is $1 215 000 000/year. In addition to taking a percentage of each transaction, we plan to further leverage the site through job advertisements for academic positions.