Has Maven Research reached out to you via LinkedIn, email or phone call with an invitation to participate in a paid consulting engagement? Wondering if it’s a legitimate opportunity? Here’s what to expect, what rate to charge, and how to land high paying micro-consulting opportunities.
What is Maven Research?
Maven Research bills itself as “the world’s largest micro consulting company.” Maven connects professionals with deep expertise in a product, company or market with clients – generally investors or management consultants – who are conducting deep research into that topic.
Though Maven works hard to brand itself as ‘not an expert network‘ it’s hard to find much differentiation between Maven’s approach and the traditional expert network model. The firms recruiters generally seek out qualified experts for client projects from the firm’s database, LinkedIn, referral and other sources, inviting them to participate in a brief 1:1 phone calls with their client. Experts tend to be former employees, customers, competitors, or influencers (such as doctors or former government employees) with strong and current first-hand knowledge of the research subject. Experts can often hundreds of dollars per hour for participating in client calls (more on setting your Maven consulting rate in a moment!) without any need to prepare or follow up.
Maven Research also offers paid surveys, and occasionally larger projects.
Founded in 2008, Maven Research is a solid mid-tier expert network with offices in San Francisco and Portsmouth, New Hampshire (editor’s note: my absolute favorite New England town!). Though it has much smaller project volume than industry heavyweights GLG or Guidepoint Global, in-demand experts do receive a handful of call and survey invites from Maven each year.
The company raised $1 million in a seed round financing back in 2010, led by vaunted venture capital firm Accel Partners. Cofounders Mark Platosh and Wyatt Nordstrom still lead the company.
Is Maven Research a scam— or a legitimate opportunity?
Maven Research has been around for more than a dozen years. It is a legitimate company, and certainly not a scam. Maven is one of the more established firms in the soaring expert network industry, which comprises several hundred firms around the globe and is expected to generate $1.9 billion in annual revenue.
While Maven Research is not a scam, it has a growing reputation for problems with its payment processes that are worth noting. Maven recently introduced a third party identity verification process, as a condition for paying experts, that does not function well. (While online identity verification is becoming more common, I have not been asked to verify myself with any other expert network.). I have personally been unable to complete the verification process successfully, which has blocked my payments, and note a meaningful number of online complaints about similar experiences. Maven’s customer service is overly automated, and did not help me resolve the problem despite several email exchanges; it is challenging to find a support phone number for Maven. Responses posted to similar online complaints, purportedly by Maven’s CEO, have been juvenile and dismissive.
What to expect if you consult with Maven Research
Your first introduction to Maven is often via a message on LinkedIn, where an associate will try to pique your interest with an invitation to participate in a paid consultation request. While being offered a high hourly consulting rate to just have a brief phone call with a client can should too good to be true, working with expert networks like Maven is the rare exception to that rule! (If you’re looking to attract more of these opportunities, check out our recommendations for optimizing your LinkedIn profile to increase your chances of being recruited for a project by expert networks.)
Maven associates will generally want to schedule a brief call with you to introduce themselves, the firm, and the project. If you’re interested and a good fit with the project, you’ll be invited to create a profile on the Maven platform and answer a few short screening questions about the project. The screening questions help the associate (and ultimately the client) gauge your fit for the project. Your answer to each question just needs to be a thoughtful sentence or two demonstrating your familiarity with the subject of the call.
You will be asked to review a compliance document to make sure you understand that no propriety or confidential information can be shared during the call. Finally, you’ll have the opportunity to specify your hourly consulting rate and provide your availability for a client call.
The Maven associate will submit your profile and responses to the client for their review. If the client would like to speak with you, you will receive a calendar invitation for the call during one of the time slots that you provided. The entire process from initial invitation to client call generally takes about a week.
Setting Your Maven Research Consulting Rate
One of the most enticing parts of expert network consulting with a firm like Maven Research is the lofty rates that you can charge! While the associate will likely provide some guidance on where to set your rate, your pricing is ultimately up to you. You deliver highly concentrated and valuable knowledge during these calls, so don’t be afraid to reflect that in your rate, though you should try to get some sense of where you are pricing yourself out of the opportunity.
Scarcity (how many other people have similar experience and expertise), recency and seniority are the key factors in how the expert network and its clients will view your rate.
If you are an early career professional, $100 – $200 per hour is a typical starting point. Director level professionals can expect to charge $200 – $300, while Vice President and C-level executives frequently command rates of $300- $500+. Some networks boast of paying experts $1,000 an hour or more, though that rate is usually only accessible by elite level professionals, such as Fortune 500 CFOs, former elected officials or highly specialized physicians.
For paid surveys, Maven Research usually offers a flat rate of $40 – $70 for a 10 – 20 minute online survey.
How to ace your Maven Research consulting call
Getting paid a high rate to share your expert opinion can sound intimidating, but you’ll often find calls to be quite easy and engaging. You don’t need to prepare for calls – the client wants to know about the area you’ve been working in for years. Things that seem mundane or even droll to you, like how you allocate budget or make a purchasing decision, can often be fascinating nuggets of information to clients who are trying to understand how a business really works.
The format of most calls is highly conversational, and you should be able to easily answer most questions without giving them too much thought. (And when you don’t know the answer, that is a perfectly acceptable answer as well. Don’t make things up!).
Importantly, be sure not to share confidential or non-public information during the call. Maven will provide you compliance guidelines before your client interaction to help you better understand what is and isn’t permissible, and it is extremely rare for clients to press you for your information that you are uncomfortable providing. Strict compliance standards and monitoring have been key helping the expert network industry move past a massive insider trading scandal during its nascent years.
The client will lead the conversation and come prepared with specific questions. Occasionally you’ll be their initial conversation about the research topic, but more typically they have already invested quite a bit of time and are looking to you to help them affirm or debunk an idea. Clients use expert networks like Maven Research to rapidly download industry knowledge and help with their understanding of a company, industry, or product of interest in order to perform due diligence prior to making an investment or other strategic decision.
Hang up the phone, and your work is done. There is no follow up required and nothing to deliver to the client. Payments are handled via a request on Maven’s online system, which as noted above does have some recent issues for some consultants. Maven’s payment policy is a bit complex, but the bottom line is that you’ll usually receive payment within four weeks of completing your client call.
With your first call under belt, keep an eye peeled for additional survey and consulting opportunities from Maven. You can also browse their online portal occasionally to find additional opportunities that you may wish to apply for.
If you’d like to get started as an expert with Maven Research, you can create a profile here.