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Wizpert expert advice

You can find the answer to plenty of questions online, but sometimes it’s helpful to chat with a particularly knowledgeable human. New York City-based Wizpert aims to simplify the process of finding and chatting with experts instantly — and in the process, the startup is moving one step ahead of hot Q&A outfits like Quora.

You can think of Wizpert as an IT help desk for life. The company recruits knowledgeable bloggers, which it calls “Wizperts,” across topics like exercise, health/wellness, and parenting. Advice seekers can connect to Wizperts via their blogs or the service’s website, and most importantly, they can begin a conservation within seconds.

The company is part of NYC-based Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator’s second class of startups, and it’s presenting later today at ERA’s Demo Day.

Wizpert is a win-win for experts and advice-seekers alike. Bloggers will be able to monetize by offering advice in their free time (Wizpert takes a 25 percent cut), and consumers will be able to instantly get the help they need from approved experts. Founder and CEO Michael Weinberg tells me that the company is particularly careful with how it vets experts — they start out offering advice for free, and they only become Wizperts after being well-reviewed.

Weinberg and co-founder/CTO Stefan D’Heedene left lucrative Merrill Lynch jobs to pursue Wizpert in 2011, after realizing that expertise needed to be more accessible. Weinberg previously held strategy and management roles in Merrill Lynch’s advisory platform, while D’Heedene built the firm’s platform for customized hedge fund portfolio advice.

Q&A sites have so far resembled glorified message boards, so it’ll be interesting to see if Wizpert takes off by letting people instantly tap experts for help. The company is currently focusing on general advice, but there’s potential for even further specialization in the future. Weinberg tells me Wizpert now has “hundreds” of experts, and as the service expands, I suspect many bloggers will jump at the chance to be labeled Wizperts.

Wizpert has received $25,000 in seed financing from ERA (along with co-working space and access to advisors) and has additional backing from Welltech Funding.


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