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Technology

Consultants get in on the gig economy

Expertise on demand gives clients and consultants the pluses of freelance flexibility without long-term commitment.

04/11/2016 BOSTON Co-founders Patrick Petitti (cq) (sitting left) and Rob Biederman (cq) (sitting right) spoke with employees during an office meeting at HourlyNerd (cq) in Boston. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/File
Cofounders Patrick Petitti and Rob Biederman (from left, in check shirts) during a meeting at HourlyNerd, now Catalant.

Boston-based Catalant, formerly known as HourlyNerd, is shaking up the consulting industry. Call it the gig economy meets the MBA set.

The company, launched as a class project at Harvard Business School in early 2013, made significant inroads last year and now has 38,000 experts on its platform . Consultants with know-how in health care, financial services, consumer goods, travel, sports, and manufacturing are all available on demand or for a specific project.

Catalant has helped companies including General Electric and Pfizer find consultants to tackle their business problems, says Rob Biederman, who cofounded Catalant with Patrick Petitti, Peter Maglathlin, and Joe Miller.

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The company has started expanding to connect with firms that need its talent. Catalant also offers its technology to companies that want to track internal worker expertise and even that of retirees, whom they may want to bring back or assign to specific projects.

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Catalant’s technology has an obvious advantage for companies that prefer to hire a business expert on a short-term basis, without the overhead of benefits and other costs.

But what about the freelancers?

Biederman and Petitti say the project rates the consultants charge include the cost of benefits. Furthermore, their technology allows consultants to set up their own schedules and work from anywhere as long as they have an Internet connection and the ability to teleconference.

“It’s a new world,” Petitti says.

Deirdre Fernandes is a Globe staff writer. Send comments to magazine@globe.com. Follow us on Twitter @BostonGlobeMag.