Uberisation and Digital Coaching

“Uberisation” is a term that describes how we are moving towards an economy based on services in marketplaces in several sectors.

Having been involved in the last decades with financial market platforms and the evolution of digital marketing into marketplaces with bidding systems, I find it very interesting what is happening with the digitisation of Executive Coaching.

Uberisation has introduced newer ways for buying and selling services and is making a tidal wave shifting the executive coaching marketplace, allowing anyone with an online connection to be a digital provider of services.

This article is only focused on professional coaching platforms, there are other verticals with AI and focused in mentoring and training.

Democratisation of Coaching or Commoditisation ?

Uberisation has been criticised for its role in facilitating the decline of labour-intensive industries, and hence for threatening jobs.

Raised concerns have led to disputes over the extent to which the provider of services via an uberised platform should be held accountable to their working force. These coaching platforms are recruiting coaches as freelances with all the implications that it entails (pay your own taxes, holidays…).

Definitely coaching is becoming more democratic and gaining a wider reach than ever before via Digital Coaching. However a lot of coaches are observing their work getting more commoditised, by getting mixed in very large pools (of both coaches and clients) and offered a fix fee.

Biggest Digital Coaching players in the World sponsored by Venture Capital

Number 1 and worldwide leader BetterUp has raised $145M. It has a network of +2000 coaches. Clients include Airbnb, Linkedin, Lyft, Mars, WB and Workday.

Leader in Europe CoachHub is based in Germany with a total raised in 2019 of €18.9 million. It has a network of +600 coaches. Clients include Fujitsu, Braun, BNP Paribas, SoundCloud and GroupM.

Leader in France is MooveOne, raised 2M euros in 2019. It has +150 coaches. Clients include Axa, PSA Groupe and Kering.

A boom in startups with coaching solutions is happening, a lot of clones popping like mushrooms in USA, Germany, France, England, India, etc.

Image Source: Brighteye Ventures Professional B2B Coaching & Mentoring solutions Market Map


Show me the Money

Several of these platforms offer a subscription model to clients, which pay a monthly fee. Clients are mostly large corporations and some platforms are starting to open to individuals. The monthly fees for the client average a couple of hundred dollars or euros per month. Fees sometimes vary according to the qualifications and experience of the coaches. Sessions mostly tend to be 30 minutes per week or 45 minutes bi-weekly.

Fees paid by several of these platforms to coaches tend to be a fraction (on average around 20% to 30%) of the $300 to $500 (or euros) per hour / session charged by executive coaches, except for the very few platforms that allow coaches to set their own fees or are targeted to a more premium service. Coaches fees tends to be connected to their experience and accreditation level with professional coaching associations, like the worldwide leader the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

There is no transparency in what most of the platforms charge clients vs. what they pay coaches, except the platforms that have a business model of revenue share or pay per month for the coach (which are rare). It can be guesstimated by reverse engineering, based on what has been disclosed in the media about the monthly fees paid by clients to some of these coaching platforms are around $250 to $500 or euros per month and coaches are probably getting paid 30% to 50% of what the clients pays.


Pandemic accelerates Digital Coaching growth trend

In recent years digital coaching has been growing double digits per year. Changes in the technology available –namely ubiquitous cheap and quality online video — have made it possible to dramatically lower costs, widen access to coaching, and improve the overall digital coaching experience.

Advantages of Digital Coaching are several, namely the savings in logistics for both coach and client and a global reach. The ongoing trend of companies to invest less face to face training and more in digital coaching is receiving a boost with Covid 19. In recent months a lot of companies that based their businesses in face to face training and coaching have had their revenues slashed and are now looking for ways to reinvent.


The Future of Coaching is also Digital

Uberisation of coaching is here to stay, doesn’t matter if you like it. Everyone today has access to mobile technology. The success of the uberisation of coaching is impacting traditionalists businesses, companies with decades in the market are being made to accept and resist or embrace uberisation the same way businesses like transportation, hospitality and retail are doing.

Another key revolution occurring is Blockchain, it will impact the current disruptors, by providing direct access to marketplaces, without the need for intermediaries, in which the current marketplaces will either provide clear added value or can be gone like their predecessors.

Will be fascinating to observe the next months and years as the market evolves fast.

André Ribeiro is Master Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation and Senior Practitioner with the European Mentoring and Coaching Council. More at here.