Has a NewtonX associate reached out to you via LinkedIn, email, or phone to invite you to fill out a survey or participate in a client call? Are you not sure if it’s a legitimate opportunity— or a scam? Our NewtonX review shares what to expect, how to set your rate and land consulting opportunities with this rapidly growing expert network
What is NewtonX?
NewtonX is an expert network, a recruiting firm that specializes in custom sourcing subject matter experts for short-term consulting projects. Expert networks are a $1.5 billion industry that cater to institutional investors (management consulting firms, private equity, hedge funds, mutual funds, etc.) doing market research or performing due diligence on a company or subset of companies in preparation for an investment. Expert network opportunities generally take the form of a 1-hour phone consultation between the subject matter expert and the client. Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your industry experience, even after you leave!
NewtonX, founded in 2016 by two former McKinsey consultants who realized an opening in the market, leverages AI and machine learning to quickly engage high volumes of experts. Dubbed a “knowledge access platform”, the firm’s custom sourcing is powered by its’ AI-enabled NewtonX Graph, which is supposed to be faster and less manual than the traditional expert network method. Additionally, the firm’s bread-and-butter service is the survey, which allows it to collect information from a high volume pool more quickly and cheaply than its’ competitors. Newton X also offers a full suite of services, such as 1:1 consults, long-form projects, and online communities.
NewtonX has raised $15 million in venture capital investment, including a $12 million round led by Two Sigma Ventures in 2019.
NewtonX Paid Surveys
When NewtonX reaches out to prospective consultants, there are two types of engagements which they may want you to participate in:
- A short web-based paid survey on their platform, generating a fee from anywhere between $20 and $200.
- A traditional 1 hour, 1:1 phone or video consult with a client on a subject of your expertise.
NewtonX is one of the more prolific facilitators of paid surveys amongst expert networks. Surveys are generally focused on business topics, especially trends in purchasing/budget allocation or how you view a set of competing products or companies.
The survey could be multiple choice, ranked choice, or short-form, but it is likely to take no more than 10 – 15 minutes of your time. The survey will double as registration in the firm’s network of experts.
At the conclusion of the survey, the system will ask for you to input your payment information. You can expect payment to be initiated within 24 hours of survey competition, so it should land in your bank account within 5 business days. Alternatively, a check could take longer. The firm also offers PayPal as a payment option.
Like most expert networks, the initial questions in the survey serve as a screen to ensure that you meet the client’s criteria and you will not be presented with the full survey nor be paid for your participation you don’t meet selection criteria. For example, if the quota of experts of your type (firm size, industry, title, currents/formers, etc.) has already been fulfilled, you will go through the survey and then be notified that you do not fit the criteria, and will not be led to a page to collect payment information.
Consulting with NewtonX
NewtonX also facilitates one-hour consulting calls – the bread and butter of most expert networks. The associate who reached out to you will want to vet your eligibility for a 1-hour phone consult with a client on a subject you appear to have expertise. Here’s a breakdown of the basic eligibility criteria for project participation:
- You are at least 6 months and no more than 3 years removed from a job where you were a senior executive (Director level or higher) at a company their client is trying to learn more about.
- You currently (or formerly) work for a competitor of a company the client is looking to learn more about.
- You currently or formerly were a customer of a product or company the client is looking to learn more about.
The associate will want to ascertain whether you are a good fit for the project — I.e., ready and willing to discuss the topics of interest to the client. This vetting process takes just a few minutes and does not take the place of the client call and you can keep your answers high-level.
The client will receive several profiles for review and will only choose the profiles that are the best fit. You can usually guess whether you are a good fit for the project based on how easily you can answer the questions and how recent your relevant work experience is. If you’re selected for the project, the NewtonX associate will facilitate a convenient time for your client call, usually within just a few days of your introduction to the project.
Even if you don’t get chosen for this project, by completing their compliance procedure, you will be registered in their system and likely vetted for future projects.
Is NewtonX Legit (and is This Legal)?
If you are successfully vetted for either of the aforementioned engagements, you can expect to be presented with a compliance document. Generally, the document is standardized and will forbid the exchanging proprietary information, and protected the confidentiality of yourself and the client. The document should be very clear and an associate would be happy to answer any questions or address any concerns.
That being said, it is up to you to know what you can and cannot reveal. It is up to you understand what other documents you may have signed could conflict with the compliance document, as well as any company policies preventing you from participating.
In general, clients are most at risk for breaches of compliance (see our previous article on an insider trading scheme that almost took down the industry!) and will never ask you to provide non-public information. NewtonX will provide you with guidelines on what you can and can’t share with clients, and instruct you to not answer any questions where you unsure if it is ok to answer.
NewtonX Consulting Rates
If you have been contacted for participation in a survey, there will be no mechanism to negotiate your rate. You will be made an offer based on your title, experience, and project-specific factors. Reviews of NewtonX’s surveys reveal compensation rates to range between $20 – $200; $40 – $75 for a 10 – 15 minute survey is typical.
If you have been contacted for participation in a 1-hour 1:1 phone or video consult, you can expect to be offered $100 – $200 if you are a Director level or below, or $200 – $350 for above a Director level. While you can absolutely negotiate your rate, if you ask for anything above $500, you risk your profile not being seen by the client, or a client balking at your rate and going with a cheaper expert. You can always renegotiate your rate for subsequent projects you are contacted for, especially if you find that you are getting inundated by project participation requests.
The rate you actually receive for participation in a client call will be determined by the amount of time both you and the client are in the call. It’s in your best interest to keep the conversation going, as an extra 10 – 15 minutes can bump up your rate, but conversely, any call that is more than 5 minutes under the 1 hour mark will be penalized with less pay.
Acing your NewtonX Consulting Call
Once you’ve been vetted and accepted an offer, your profile will be shared with the client. If the client selected your profile for a conversation, you’ll be scheduled for the phone consult based on the availability you gave the associate.
The client call should not be difficult, as the answers should come naturally to you, based on your years of experience of working in your particular industry. The client is not expecting a deliverable of any sort, however, it may be helpful to have some relevant figures handy. The vetting questions the associate walked through with you should clue you in on the topics of conversation be covered in the client call.The types of clients you will encounter will be institutional investors (consulting firms, private equity, hedge funds, mutual funds, venture capital firms, etc.).
The client has done extensive research beforehand and it should make for an interesting conversation. The conversation will centered on a target company’s positioning, go-to-market strategy, business model, key challenges and opportunities, and the competitive landscape. The client is looking to rapidly download your knowledge in order to confirm or complicate their due diligence on a company, industry, or product of interest.
If the client asks a question and you don’t know the answer, be honest. Otherwise you will be wasting time for both you.
After the call, your payment information will be collected, and you can expect payment within 14 days via ACH direct deposit (or longer if you chose the check option).
Now that you’re part of the NewtonX network, don’t be surprised if you are contacted for many more projects. Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your industry experience by offering insights to institutional investors.
If you haven’t already been contacted by NewtonX about a project, you can learn more about becoming an expert consultant with NewtonX, or reach out an an associate to get started by emailing [email protected]. Be sure to mention what you’ve learned in our NewtonX review!