Barely four months after announcing that it raised $25 million in Series A funding and changed its name from JustAnswer.com, San Francisco-based Pearl.com has raised yet another round of $25.7 million.
The Series B round was led by current funders Glynn Capital and Charles Schwab (the individual) and included new investor Crosslink Capital.
To date, Pearl.com, which lets anyone pay from $9 to $80 for a one-on-one conversation with a range of verified professionals, has kept a low profile. But with the new cash, it plans to step up its game with a big media and marketing blitz, including a media tour and broadcast TV campaigns.
Quora, which itself raised $61 million in venture funding, similarly connects people with experts (although it doesn’t charge users and takes a crowdsourcing approach). And vertical-specific sites like HealthTap and RocketLawyer also give people on-demand access to doctors and lawyers online.
But Andy Kurtzig, Pearl.com’s founder and CEO, told me his company wants to be the Amazon.com of the online professional services space.
“The way we look at the market is like retail over the last 15 years,” he said. “Ten years from now, people are going to expect to be able to interact with professionals online and on mobile.”
Expecting the market to be twice that for retail and even more conducive to online transactions, Kurtzig said he thinks there’s room for both vertical-specific and general professional services sites.
In addition to elevating its profile with consumers, the company plans to strengthen its mobile presence (it currently has an iPhone app) and focuses on personalization. For now, the company said users select from a pool of about 10,000 professionals in 700 specialties, including doctors, lawyers, mechanics, veterinarians and home repair pros. The price depends on the urgency of the question and the level of detail users would like in response.
In the future, the company said it plans to build out products organized around lifestyle needs, such as packages for wedding planning, nutrition or the birth of a baby.
To ensure quality across the site, Kurtzig said, the company uses expert peer reviews, works with an advisory board of professors from top schools and requires experts to pass category-specific tests. The company said that, on average, revenue has been growing about 123 percent a year over the last five years.