Top Consulting Firms for Startups
Consultants are all about helping you—the entrepreneur—out at the earliest stages of your business and are typically experienced entrepreneurs themselves who offer their expertise in order to get things up and running. (You can read more about the benefits of hiring a startup consultant here.)
A consultant can do anything from creating a business plan or marketing strategy to even helping kickstart a campaign for those first few daunting rounds of funding, and the same goes for a consulting firm. A firm only differs slightly from an individual consultant in that they’re simply a group of industry-specific individuals who are able to offer advice, guidance, and actionable solutions when a startup may not be able to afford the in-house services themselves. Whereas one consultant can only provide you with their specific skillset, a firm has plenty of brilliant minds to choose from in order to help you solve your startup’s needs.
Below is a list of firms that have a proven track record of helping startups like yours get off the ground.
1. Bain & Company
Bain & Company is a consulting firm based out of Boston, MA, that’s committed to helping their clients “see the world differently, discover opportunities you may never have imagined and achieve results that bridge what is with what can be.” They work with ambitious clients who want to define the future, not hide from it.
Bain works with businesses across a variety of industries, from auto and aviation to retail and real estate, making this a great option for entrepreneurs who are looking to shake up these existing markets. (A full comprehensive list of the industries they service can be found on their website.) Their list of services includes helping startups with their customer service logistics, overall customer experience, mergers and acquisitions, operations, and more.
2. IBM Garage
IBM’s consulting firm arm, IBM Garage, is a remote consulting firm that’s able to meet your startup wherever it’s at. According to their website, IBM Garage “brings innovation and transformation together in a way that gives you speed to value, scale and 102% average ROI” to its client base. More than anything, this particular firm is data-driven and not only studies the current market research, trends, and analytics but how those things will affect your business. They bring together the best parts of business strategy, design, technology, culture, and innovation to help your business succeed.
With the help of cutting-edge AI technology, IBM Garage is able to help entrepreneurs everywhere with things like creating a sound business strategy, optimizing operations by increasing productivity and automating things as needed, as well as modernizing your business with state-of-the-art technologies. Startups, specifically those in the financial services, telecommunications, retail, energy, and government sectors, will find IBM Garage to be the most helpful.
For a more aesthetic-conscious consulting firm, look no further than GrowthRocks. This London-based firm skirts the conventional with its group of in-house marketers and web developers so that your startup can join the best of the best in this fast-paced digital world. With services ranging from SaaS and SEO to subscriptions and ecommerce operations, it’s clear to see why GrowthRocks was named the number one growth hacking agency worldwide.
This firm is ideal for international startups looking for more marketing-specific consulting, as well as anyone looking for help launching retail product offerings. Their ultimate specialty is growth marketing, so if your startup needs help in that area, consider reaching out to GrowthRocks and letting them work their magic.
4. L.E.K. Consulting
At L.E.K. Consulting, their goal is to help startups reach their full potential and amplify their overall growth. They’re another Boston-based consulting firm that’s “committed to unleashing momentum by illuminating the pattern in the noise, challenging what’s possible and inspiring the confidence that drives conviction,” and they serve a variety of industries, from general business services and consumer products to private equity consulting and technology.
This is a firm that’s ideal for startups who are looking for deep expertise as well as a hands-on, collaborative experience when it comes to developing their business. L.E.K. is a group of dedicated individuals who have big, innovative ideas that they can transform into actionable steps. Whether it’s your overall business strategy, a more refined approach to pricing strategy, or overhauling your business’s digital offerings, this is a firm that can do it all.
5. Elysian Fields
Elysian Fields is another London-based consulting firm whose ultimate goal is to leave no founder behind. They exclusively service more tech-focused businesses, specifically in the cyber security, artificial intelligence, climate tech/sustainability, deep tech, and quantum technologies area, as well as SaaS services. If your startup focuses on any of these specific industries, this is a solid consulting firm to consider.
Their services include three types of audits: a pitch, positioning and messaging, and a marketing audit. Elysian Fields boasts that undergoing these three specific audits will lend your startup an unfair advantage in your respective market. With plenty of plans to choose from, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach with this firm—they’re willing to meet your business where it’s at in order to find the best strategy when it comes time to take your startup to market.
Accenture, a Dublin-based consulting firm, is setting out to transform startups that are focused on tech, natural resources, media, and public service sectors. Accenture is a female-led firm, and its mission is to provide transformative value for all stakeholders. In addition to the typical business and operations strategy help, Accenture also provides Metaverse consulting, meaning they can help take your business to new heights in this exciting, burgeoning digital landscape.
Other unique services include change management, sustainability strategies (for a sustainable value chain as well as ways to have net-zero transitions, among other things), and zero-based transformation services. Most startups will be able to find what they need with this particular firm, but if you need a more pressing focus on digital-specific services, Accenture is a great firm to pursue.
Solutionery calls itself the “home of startups,” and it’s easy to see why. They service tech startups only, so if your new business needs assistance with algorithm development, commercialization, or even prototype development, then look no further than this Finland-based firm. Not only do they offer comprehensive consultancy services, but they also offer a robust technological resolution so your business can put its best foot forward.
Solutionery aims to be a platform for all so that investors and entrepreneurs can move forward confidently. Whether you need a more hands-on approach when it comes to creating a prototype or just need to collaborate on the best way to market your new product, this is a firm that can do it all.
With consulting offices located across the world, Advancy is a unique firm that works on high-stakes problems at the C-suite level with businesses across a variety of industries, including aerospace, retail, consumer goods, hospitality, tech, construction, travel, and more. They pride themselves on their results-driven approach by implementing “quantitative fact-based analyses, resulting in simple recommendations, supported by impactful action plans.”
Advancy focuses specifically on sales and marketing strategy, overall business strategy (including restructuring and operations, as well as mergers and acquisitions), and overall supply chain management refinement.
9. PwC Consulting
PwC Consulting is another widely known consulting firm. They look for startup clients who are willing to think boldly in their respective industries and strive to create strategic insights in order to create value through innovative use of technology in order to give clients unique experiences that drive real results.
Startups in the automotive, consumer markets, construction/engineering, healthcare and hospitality, industrial manufacturing, insurance, media, life sciences, public services, technology, and tech communications industries will find this particular firm helpful when it comes to cloud, HR, front office, or finance transformation, as well as enterprise strategy, cybersecurity and privacy services, and other operation rehauls.
Bridegspan is a unique consulting firm in that it only services startups in the nonprofit sector. According to their website, their passion lies in helping “social change leaders find solutions to economic and social barriers that perpetuate inequities and prevent individuals, families, and communities from having access to opportunities they need to thrive.”
Nonprofit startups should look no further than this particular firm if they’re looking for specific help regarding their nonprofit business strategy, network design, and optimization, and especially if they need guidance on philanthropic funding strategies. Bridespan can help pair you with foundations and organizations whose values align with yours to ensure your funding stretches as your business grows.
11. OC&C Strategy Consultants
Another London-based consulting firm, OC&C Strategy Consultants doesn’t limit themselves to just their client base across the pond. They like to think big when it comes to servicing their startup clients in consumer goods, analytics, private equity, TMT (telecoms, media, and technology), B2B products and services, leisure/hospitality, retail, and other digital industries.
Never one to shy away from a problem, OC&C is a firm that likes to dive right in and tackle an issue head-on with “uncommon sense” until they find a solution that’s satisfying to their client. No matter if your startup needs help with your business strategy or a more refined approach to how your operations are working, this is one consulting firm that won’t stop until everything’s perfect.
Guidehouse is a Washington D.C.-based firm that focuses more on complex challenges that its clients face in the defense and security, finance, energy/sustainability, health, and state and local government sectors. In addition to providing strategy and innovation services across these specific industries, Guidehouse also offers workforce transformation, sustainability, and AI automation services in order to help clients create a more purposeful impact in their communities.
Startups looking for help in these specific areas will find a great mentor in Guidehouse, who’s “united in an uncompromising focus on client success, challenging careers and meaningful impact” via their five pillars of business: respect, integrity, innovation, stewardship, and excellence.
13. Altman Solon
For startups in the telecommunications, media, and technology industries, look no further than Altman Solon for your consultancy needs. This Boston-based firm was started in 2020 and aims to service clients in the TMT space by providing “clear, rapid, and tailor-made solutions, ranging from strategy development to operations implementation.”
In addition to TMT strategy and operations consultancy, Altman Solon also offers clients go-to-market strategies, network planning, and capital market research and execution guidance. With their narrowed focus on these specific industries and clients, startups seeking out this particular firm can rest easy knowing that they’re getting a robust team of consultants who care and want to see your business succeed.