Member Spotlight: Brainsy Answers all Your Questions
With the clutter of information on the Internet, knowing what is valuable and trustworthy — or from a direct source, no less — can be tough. Washington, D.C. startup Brainsy makes reliable information from credible sources accessible to everyone.
Based out of the 1776 campus, Brainsy connects individuals and groups to subject matter experts through ECNs, or Expert Calling Networks. Brainsy is different from other advice platforms not only because it’s based on phone calls but because it allows users to monetize their social media profiles. 1776 had the chance to sit down and speak to with Brainsy’s CEO and Chief Innovation Officer, Brian Christie, to discuss the startup’s concept, successes, and challenges.
Relay Foods founder Zach Buckner started Brainsy (originally as Fanaticall) in 2011 with the idea to connect people in the music industry. Founding Brainsy in D.C. made the most sense for finding a diversity of countless quality experts given all the powerful organizations and connections. Buckner brought on board Christie, who previously led and advised various startups in the D.C. area, as CEO in 2013.
Christie soon realized that “the application was broader and could go beyond the music world,” and “someday it ought to be available for anyone to share.” His realization resulted in re-branding, and the Brainsy concept quickly evolved into a large information network that touches on anything and everything within the limits of the law. Today, major ECN subject matters include bitcoin, college counseling, health and wellness coaching, and even fishing.
One of the most exciting moments for Brainsy took place during President Barack Obama’s visit to the 1776 D.C. campus. In fact, the visit had a significant impact on Brainsy’s trajectory. Christie was fortunate enough to speak to Obama about the startup’s business model. After viewing video footage of the exchange with Obama, Brainsy’s board of investors excitedly urged Christie to launch that very day, several months ahead of schedule. Now, Christie frequently shares the video of his interaction with Obama with others to explain how the business works.
Brainsy’s latest venture is the “HR Tech and Talent ECN,” which launched in early October. Christie explains that the “HR Tech and Talent ECN” aims to connect “top-flight human resource domain experts and consultants with organizations or businesses via paid telephone calls.”
The startup’s revenue model revolves around three groups: the expert, the sponsor, and Brainsy itself. The ECN may be launched under a third-party aggregator, known as a “sponsor,” who brings a group of subject matter experts together. Once experts join the ECN, they can affix ECN badges to their Twitter accounts or LinkedIn profiles. Clients, in turn, can receive answers and advice from experts by simply clicking the ECN badges to schedule paid phone calls. The transaction fees that the Brainsy users pay drive the revenue, and the experts receive the largest amounts from the fees. The remaining amount divides between Brainsy and the aggregators.
Christie summed up Brainsy’s greatest challenge by talking about how overwhelmingly big of an idea it is. Due to the nature of the platform, there is such a wide spectrum of channels and subject matters to cover. As a result, the team has to be prudent about which opportunities to approach and which ones to step back from. In terms of successes, Christie says Brainsy’s “milestones are measured in mini steps.” Such steps include the increasing number of customers, the unexpected international support from countries like Ireland, and the additions of new ECNs.
When asked about his broader vision for Brainsy’s future, Christie says he wants people “to be able to utilize this platform in ways we can’t even anticipate and to make it possible for people to access information that they couldn’t have gotten in the past.”