Have you been contacted by an associate from Arbolus Technologies via LinkedIn, email or phone call with an invitation to participate in a paid consulting engagement? Are you wondering if it’s a scam, or a legitimate opportunity? Our Arbolus Technologies review details what to expect, and how to land high paying hourly consulting projects.
What is Arbolus Technologies?
Arbolus is an expert network, a custom recruiting firm focused on connecting subject matter experts (SMEs) with institutional investor clients looking to better understand an industry, company, or product. Expert networks typically rely on LinkedIn and company websites to identify current & former employees, competitors, customers, and key opinion leaders who can add value to a client’s market research via their professional experience and opinions. A subject matter experts’ expertise is typically rapidly downloaded via a 45 minute to 1-hour call with the client. Working with Arbolus, and other expert networks, can be a lucrative alternative stream of income, requiring little to no preparation, that can be scheduled around your existing employment or other responsibilities.
Founded originally as CiQ Group in 2017, the firm was rebranded as Arbolus Technologies in 2019. Arbolus was founded by two managers from AlphaSights, Sam Glasswell and Will Leeming. The firm has been experiencing rapid growth, acquiring Waterside, another budding expert network, in 2019. The London-based firm employs 100 people and also maintains offices in Barcelona, New York, and New Delhi. The company raised $6M in venture capital investment from Fuel Ventures and Plug & Play Ventures in 2021 and an additional $15 million from Element Ventures and Fuel Ventures in 2022.
One of the company’s unique offerings is a video Q&A platform, which enables clients to quickly ask multiple experts the same question and review their brief responses (typically 2 – 3 minutes). These short videos may be used for project screening as well as used as part of the client’s research.
Experts are not compensated for providing these short responses. On one hand, you may find them easier to complete than the written screening questions usually required to land an expert network consulting call. However, unlike those screening questionnaires, Arbolus actively markets these recordings – including searchable transcripts – as part of the value the firm provides to its clients without providing compensation to experts for participating in them. (Arbolus joins Tegus and Stream in finding ways to further monetize content provided by experts without providing additional compensation; a worrisome trend.)
Arbolus also facilitates surveys on behalf of its clients, on topics such as your awareness and opinion of certain product categories or your budget and spending expectations. Expert network surveys generally take 10 – 20 minutes to complete, with compensation ranging from $40 – $70.
Is Arbolus Technologies a scam— or a legitimate opportunity?
Arbolus — and expert networks in general — are not a scam. Expert networks are a $1.9B industry, and typically serve as a professional service for the financial services industry by sourcing subject matter experts for their clients. Arbolus serves a wide variety of clients, from start-ups & corporations to consultancies, hedge funds, and private equity.
Typically, associates from an expert network will use LinkedIn, or publicly available contact information such as email or phone number, to recruit potential experts for a project. You can optimize your LinkedIn profile to increase your chances of being recruited for a project by expert networks. Expert networks are an extension of the gig economy and are a great way to monetize your professional experience!
What to expect if you consult with Arbolus Technologies
Recruiters for expert networks rely heavily on LinkedIn to identify potential experts for a project based on their employment history. If, based on your LinkedIn profile, the associate believes you could be a good fit, they will reach out you with a brief introduction to themselves, their firm, and the project.
If you’re interested and think you could contribute to the topic, the associate will invite you to fill out a profile on their platform, which will cover all the basics about your employment history and expertise.
For each project, you’ll also be asked to respond to a few project-specific vetting questions. Most expert networks ask you provide a few two or three sentence responses to a few questions to demonstrate your qualifications for the project. In some cases, though, Arbolus will ask you to provide some more detailed video responses through their Canopy technology platform. Based on these videos, the client may select you for an hourlong consulting call, however, even if you are not selected, the client will still have access to the information that you provided. This creates a tough scenario for expert consultants, as you don’t want to ‘spill the beans’ during the (unpaid) screening process, but at the same time, if you don’t put your best foot forward you may not be selected for the project.
You will also be asked to review a compliance document to make sure you understand that no propriety or confidential information can be shared during the call. You will also be able to set your rate and availability at this time.
The Arbolus associate will then submit your profile to the client for review. If the client chooses to move forward with your profile, you will receive a calendar invitation with dial-in information for the call. While the review and scheduling process usually takes only a few days, it can take up to two weeks.
If you don’t receive a calendar invitation within a week or two, it’s safe to say your profile was not chosen. Don’t worry— now that your profile is in the Arbolus system, you’re more likely to be contacted for future projects. In the meantime, you can increase your chances of being chosen for a project by following these tips.
Arbolus Hourly Rates
Arbolus— and other expert networks— compensate you for your time and expertise spent on a client project. Sometimes, a starting rate will be communicated to you in the initial reach out. Othertimes, it will be communicated to you in subsequent reach outs.
In general, you can expect the hourly rate to depend on a variety of factors, including the scarcity of your expertise (how many other experts can discuss the topic intelligently?), how far removed you are from the topic (how many years has it been since you were in the industry?), and how far you are in your career.
For early career professionals, you can expect to be offered $100- $200; director level or similar professionals can expect $200-$300; anything above director level can easily command rates of $300- $500. Some experts can command fees of $1000 or more an hour, however, these professionals are often expert network veterans who are at the top of hot or niche industries, or executives at Fortune 500 companies. You can also negotiate a higher rate for further calls.
Setting your rate exceptionally high can also dissuade a client from moving forward with your profile, even if you are a good fit for the project. This is most common in situations where there are many potential experts who can speak to a topic.
Most expert networks will compensate you based on the amount of time you are in the call. This means that even after you negotiate your hourly rate, if you are on the call for less than 60 full minutes, your fee will be pro-rated based on the number of minutes you are in the call with the client. Therefore, it’s best to keep the call going for as long as you can so you can maximize your fee. Similarly, you will be compensated for time spent on the call beyond the agree-upon hour. An extra 15 minutes on a call can easily translate to a higher fee via Arbolus!
How to ace your Arbolus consulting call
You should not feel the need to overly prepare for the call. The client is not expecting a deliverable or a presentation. The format is highly conversational, and you should be able to answer the questions easily based on years of experience in your industry.
You can expect that the client has come prepared with specific questions as a result of their own in-depth research on the topic they’ve contracted you to speak on. Clients use expert networks to rapidly download industry knowledge (via your many years of experience!) in order to confirm or complicate their understanding of a company, industry, or product of interest in order to perform due diligence prior to making an investment or strategic movement. The client has done extensive research beforehand and it should make for an interesting conversation.
The types of clients you will encounter are will likely be institutional investors (strategy consulting firms, hedge funds, private equity funds, etc.), however, Arbolus also offers services to corporate and start-up clients. You should know that financial services clients are bound by strict compliance policies that prevent them from soliciting proprietary or confidential information. Client calls are likely always recorded by Arbulus in order to be made available to customers of their platform, so you can expect that the call will be reviewed internally to ensure compliance. It’s rare that you’ll be asked to share any non-public information, and you should decline to answer any questions you feel moves into this territory; clients won’t press you to share things that you shouldn’t.
Arbolus payments are made via ACH, wire, or physical check. You should be prompted to enter your payment information immediately after the call.
Now that you’re part of the network, you can use the Arbolus platform to participate in further calls by keeping your information up to date and periodically checking in.
If you have not yet been contacted by an Arbolus associate, you can register as an expert on their platform here.