Maven Research Review

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 logo

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.

Maven Research reviews

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.

What’s next?

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.

Arbolus Technologies Review

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 consulting logo

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 Barcelona-based firm also maintains offices in London and New York, and raised $6M in venture capital investment from Fuel Ventures and Plug & Play Ventures in 2021

Arbolus transcribes calls between clients and experts, adding them to a library that is available to its entire client base.  (Other emerging expert networks, such as Tegus, proSapient and Stream by Mosaic offer a similar product to clients.)  Experts do not receive additional compensation if clients access transcripts of their calls.

In addition to traditional expert network services, Arbolus operates a software platform called Hyperion that utilizes machine learning and NLP for higher quality and more efficient matching of clients and experts. Their platform allows clients to stay connected with experts they have worked with on previous projects, as well as access reviews and client call history for experts in order to develop a sense of trust and connectedness to expert connections.

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

Arbolus consulting reviews

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 and questionnaire on their platform. The profile will cover all the basic questions about your employment history and expertise, in addition to project-specific vetting questions. For the vetting questions, you should know that the associate is not expecting the type of in-depth answer that the client would like to have in the call. Instead, your answers should be a sentence or two demonstrating your knowledge and ability to speak to the topics of interest. 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. 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.

What’s Next?

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.

Tegus Expert Network Review

Have you been contacted by an associate from Tegus inviting you to participate in paid consultation request? Wondering what’s involved, how much you can earn, or if this is a legitimate opportunity or a scam? Our comprehensive Tegus review will show you what to expect and how to land high-paying projects.

What is Tegus?

Tegus logo
Tegus is named after a South American lizard.

Tegus is an expert network, a type of firm that recruits and connects subject matter experts with clients doing deep research on a product, company or market. These experts are sourced from countless industries and at all levels of experience. They are typically former employees, customers, competitors, or key influencers of the business that the client is researching.

Tegus’s typical consulting project is a 45 – 60 minute call between the client and the expert, where the client wants to rapidly learn the ‘facts on the ground’ from people with significant hands-on experience. Working with expert network consulting with firms like Tegus can be an attractive source of extra income, since the firm offers high hourly rates, schedules calls at times that are convenient to the consultant, and projects are usually extremely concise with no preparation or follow up required.

While some expert networks have a broader client focus, Tegus works exclusively with investors, such as hedge fund and mutual fund managers, and venture capitalists. Tegus claims to have facilitated over 20,000 client calls on its website, and is currently arranging more than 900 each month. In an unusual twist on the expert network model, transcripts of most Tegus client calls are made available to its entire client base.

Tegus was founded in 2016 by Michael Elnick, a former AlphaSights associate, and his identical twin brother Thomas Elnick; the two serve as Co-Founders and Co-CEOs. The company raised a $90 million Series B funding round led by Oberndorf Enterprises and Willoughby Capital in November 2021 and $1.5 million in venture capital investment in 2017. In late 2021, the company acquired acquire BamSEC, a platform that makes it easy to access and work with SEC filings and earnings transcripts.

Tegus is based in Chicago, with a European office in Waterford, Ireland. The company has over 300 employees to service its more than 1,000 clients.

Is Tegus legitimate — or a scam?

A Tegus consulting request can sound too good to be true. A stranger reaches out to you on the Internet – often via LinkedIn – praising your expertise and offering to pay you hundreds of dollars an hour for simply having a brief phone call with their client.

While you should always be cautious about people reaching out with unsolicited offers (Tegus will never ask you for payment to participate in consulting projects!), Tegus is not a scam. It’s part of the rapidly growing expert network industry that encompasses nearly 200 firms around the world which are collectively soaring past $2 billion in annual revenue. If you’re looking for a way to leverage your experience and expertise, an invitation to work with Tegus may be your entryway to the easy and lucrative world of expert network consulting.

What to expect if you consult with Tegus

Tegus employs a small army of recruiters who spend their days searching for experts who fit the criteria for client project requests. LinkedIn is their favorite hunting ground, so if your profile seems to match what they’re looking for, they’ll often reach out via LinkedIn messenger, email or a phone call to introduce you to Tegus and provide a brief overview of the consulting opportunity.

If you’re interested and look like a fit, you’ll be asked to create a profile on the Tegus platform and answer a few short screening questions about your qualifications for the project, which generally requires a few sentences about your relevant work experience knowledge of and relationship to the subject of the call. You’ll also be asked a few yes/no compliance questions to ensure that you are permitted to speak about this topic and meet the compliance requirements set by both Tegus and the client. You’ll then have the opportunity to set your Tegus hourly rate (more on that in a moment!) and provide a list of times for a client call that are convenient for you. Getting set up with Tegus should only take 20 – 30 minutes of your time, and then you’ll only need a few minutes to respond to additional consulting project invitations in the future.

The Tegus associate will then present your profile, screening answers, rate and availability to the client. If they’d like to speak with you, the associate will send out a calendar invite for the call. From initial contact to client call often takes less than one week. Don’t get discouraged if you’re not selected for the first project that you apply for – landing about 1/3 of the relevant projects that you respond to is typical with expert networks. Refining your profile and answers to screening projects can help improve your success rate.

Tegus business model
Tegus’s unique business model seems to be successful!

Tegus has an unusual business and pricing model for its clients. For most calls, the client just pays a $75 markup on the expert’s consulting fee; this compares to rates of $1,000 or more for a consulting call at firms like GLG. This fee includes sourcing and managing the expert, compliance checks and monitoring, and recording and transcription.

Tegus earns most of its revenue by selling access to its platform, that includes a rapidly growing library of over 20,000 client call transcripts. Approximately two weeks after your call, the transcript will be published and available to all Tegus clients on its platform. (Access to the platform starts at roughly $20,000 per year so transcripts are not shared publicly!) Your employment history and bio will be included in the transcript, but your name will be redacted. You do not receive any additional compensation for other clients accessing the transcript of your call. (Arbolus and proSapient offer clients access to similar transcript libraries, also without additional compensation to the expert, while Stream Research Group has an even less attractive compensation model for some calls – $0.)

Tegus Hourly Rates

How much should I ask for? How much can I ask for?

Expert networks like Tegus often pique your interest by touting hourly rates in the hundreds of dollars or more, and the ability for you to name your own price. Some in-demand experts, like Fortune 500 executives or specialized surgeons, do regularly command $1,000 hourly rates or even higher. However, for those whose resumes aren’t quite platinum-status yet, you’ll generally want to aim for typical bands within the industry.

For non-managers or people earlier in their career, a $100 – $200 hourly rate is usually the starting point. Your Tegus hourly rate can quickly climb to $200 – $350 for director-level employees or professionals with strong credentials, such as doctors or engineers. Vice Presidents and C-level executives at mid-sized firms can often achieve $500 hourly rates or a bit more. The typical rate for Tegus consultants is $300 per hour, according an interview with the Co-CEO. Rates are pro-rated to the length of the client call, so a 45 minute call will only yield you 75% of your hourly consulting rate, while your meter keeps running on a good conversation that extends beyond an hour.

Keep in mind that scarcity certainly plays a role in your rate and odds of being selected for a project. If the client wants to speak with users of a popular software package where hundreds of potential experts can easily be sourced, you may be passed over for lower cost consultants. However, if the client wants to speak with senior finance managers who recently worked at a particular company you may be the only game in town and have leverage to command a higher rate.

You may want to set your rate towards the lower end of your target band until you’ve landed your first couple of projects and established a reputation. It’s then easier to negotiate a higher hourly rate with Tegus for future projects.

How to ace your Tegus consulting call

Client calls tend to be easy and engaging conversations. It’s always nice to be considered an expert in something, and things that can be banal to you, such as how you set budgets or make purchasing decisions, can be valuable information to clients that generates unexpected enthusiasm!

Most client calls are centered on a particular company, industry, or product. The client is not expecting you to prepare a presentation or deliverable for the call; they are looking to rapidly download industry knowledge via your many years of experience. You can expect that clients have done their own basic research, reviewed publicly available information, and perhaps heard a management presentation prior to speaking with you. They have come prepared with specific questions to confirm or clarify aspects of the business.

Oftentimes, the client is researching a particular company, especially those with a recent IPO, major announcement or volatile stock price. The client will be eager to learn your honest opinion about the company’s prospects, ability to execute, and management quality. Common questions will be about how the target company compares to its competitors, product and feature differentiation, pricing strategy, quality of management, etc. These types of calls will often resolve around your former employer or a major vendor that you worked with frequently, with emphasis on the key factors influencing your decisions.

You should have an easy time answering the questions during the call – the client often wants to learn about something you’ve been doing regularly for years.. Even so, you may not have all the answers, or know figures off the top of your heads. Be honest and say you don’t know, and you should never make up answers. Clients are usually quite skilled at parsing fact from fiction, and manufactured answers can quickly result in a short call, if not a short career with an expert network.

It’s important to note that you will never be asked to share non-public or proprietary information during a client call, and doing so can be illegal in more extreme cases. One of the key responsibilities of expert networks is to ensure that improper information isn’t exchanged on a client call, with both parties bound by strict compliance standards (which you will receive prior to the call). All client calls are recorded by Tegus and reviewed by its compliance team (and often the client’s compliance team as well) to ensure that no improper information is shared. Clients are often very well versed in compliance requirements and strictly adhere to them so they are not prohibited from pursuing an investment idea or.

What’s Next?

Tegus payment options include ACH (US-only), wire, physical check, or PayPal. After you complete a call, you will be prompted to provide payment preference and details. (Be wary of anyone asking you to provide account information prior to your first call – be sure to confirm that they are indeed a Tegus employee.). Payments are issued within 15 days of the client call.

Now that you’re a part of the network, you will periodically be contacted for participation in new projects, especially as you build a history of completing successful client calls.

Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your experience. If you’ve been contact by a Tegus associate, you’ve already been identified as a good potential fit for an active project. Otherwise, Tegus does not offer online registration but you can contact Tegus here to express your interest in working with them.

What is an Expert Network?

Quietly, a secretive industry has been growing like crazy, influencing billions – if not trillions – of dollars in investment decisions and creating a lucrative side hustle hundreds of thousands of professionals. If you been invited to participate in a paid consulting opportunity and are wondering what is an expert network, you may have just received your golden ticket. Here’s what you need to know.

Should you consult for an expert network?

I charge $300 – $500 per hour to do expert network consulting, and it is ridiculously easy work. It reminds me of my favorite Lloyd Dobler quote from Say Anything:

“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”

If you’re unfamiliar with expert network consulting, you may be missing out one of the easiest and highest paying consulting gigs out there.

Expert networks – such as GLG, AlphaSights, Guidepoint, proSapient and Third Bridge – connect investors and management consultants looking to rapidly do a deep dive into a company or market with “experts” who know all about it. These are typically former employees, customers, vendors, or competitors.

No matter what your area of expertise, there are probably expert networks out there trying to match you with projects. While these industry has some notoriety for paying over $1,000/hour to connect clients with Fortune 500 CFOs or specialized surgeons, there is far more need for everyday folks like marketers, IT managers, sales people, and even potato farmers. (Consulting rates are generally $100 – $250 for people earlier in their careers and $300 – $500 for mid-career professionals, like Vice Presidents.)

The typical engagement is a simple one hour phone call with the client, where you give a data dump and answer their questions. It’s always stuff that is second nature to you, but enables them to peel back the curtain for polished investor presentations and press releases to rapidly understand what’s really going on with a business. Stuff you barely need to think about can be often be mind-blowing information for an investor who is trying to decide whether or not to put (many) millions of dollars to work.

And best of all, as soon as you hang up the phone, your work is done. You don’t need to prepare for the calls or do any research and there is zero follow up. No marketing and no selling; the expert networks do that all for you. Even better, payment will show up in your bank account a week or two after the call.

How do you get started with expert networks?

The expert network industry is growing like crazy. There are well over 100 firms around the world, generating more than $1.5 billion in revenue. They are facilitating over 1 million of these high paying micro-consulting calls per year, and are CONSTANTLY looking for new experts to consult from virtually any field or industry that you could image.

There are three main ways to get started with the expert network industry:

  1. Get found on LinkedIn. Most people discover the secretive world of expert networks when they receive a LinkedIn message inviting them to briefly ‘consult’ with an expert network’s client at an hourly rate of their choosing. These messages can seem a little scammy or spammy, but 99% of the time they are your ticket in. Expert networks employ small armies of young recruiters who spend their entire day scouring LinkedIn to find people who match the qualifications required in project specs.
  2. Register directly with the expert networks. Many expert networks enable you to create a profile with them via their website. They care about what you know more than what you can do, so approach these profiles in different way than you would your LinkedIn profile or resume. List every product, company and market that you can knowledgeable speak about for at least half hour – customers, vendors, competitors, former employers, etc. So much of expert network recruiting is keyword driven (recruiters don’t really know much, if anything, about the subject matter their client wants to learn about), so put the names and phrases they are likely to be looking for into your profile and wait for your email box to fill up with new opportunities.
  3. Get referred. Have a friend or colleague who works with an expert network? Ask them to introduce you! Most expert networks actively solicit referrals, and some even pay a small referral fee for people who complete their first project. And don’t worry about competing with your buddy – oftentimes, clients want to speak multiple people with similar experiences (i.e. a few former employees from the same company) to see if there is consistency in their responses.

NewtonX Review

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 $1.9 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 NewtonX 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 $47 million in venture capital investment, including a $32 million round announced in December 2021, led by Marbruck Ventures and included Level One, the UBS O’Connor fund, Gaingels and Heliad Partners. Existing investors Two Sigma, Third Prime, XFund, Story Ventures and Switch also participated. 

NewtonX Paid Surveys

When NewtonX reaches out to prospective consultants, there are two types of engagements which they may want you to participate in:

  1. A short web-based paid survey on their platform, generating a fee from anywhere between $20 and $200.
  2. 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 NewtonX paid 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. 

What’s Next?

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!

Ridgetop Research Review

Have you received a reach-out on LinkedIn or an out-of-the-blue phone call from an associate at Ridgetop Research, asking if you have an hour available for a paid consulting opportunity with a client? Are you wondering if it’s a legitimate opportunity— or a scam? Get introduced to the secretive world of expert network consulting and learn how to land high-paying projects in our Ridgetop Research review.

What is Ridgetop Research?

Ridgetop Research logo

Ridgetop Research 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!

Ridgetop is a mid-sized expert network with offices in Charlotte, North Carolina and New York, New York. The firm was founded in 2008 by former employees of Vista Research, an early pioneer in the industry that was taken down by an insider trading scandal in 2007. Ridgetop offers a range of services, from custom recruiting of industry professionals (just like other expert networks!), as well as survey fieldwork and paneling. The firm mostly caters to institutional investors such as private equity, mutual funds, and venture capital firms. Ridgetop also contracts with Cordium to provide “chaperone” services to clients to ensure calls are consistent with their compliance framework.

Qualifying for Ridgetop Research Consulting Calls

Your relationship with Ridgetop Research often starts with a LinkedIn message.

If you’ve been contacted by an associate from Ridgetop Research, it’s likely that you are a senior level industry professional with experience with a company, product, or industry their client is looking to learn more about. Here’s a breakdown of the basic eligibility criteria for project participation:

  • You are at least 6 months and no more than 3 years out of 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 invite you to register on the online platform, where you will run through a few vetting questions in order 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 does not take the place of the client call and you can keep your answers high-level.

The client will receive several profiles from Ridgetop Research 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. You’ll usually find out if you’ve been selected for a project within a few days. Oftentimes, the associate will ask for your availability during the screening call and send you a calendar invite for your client call.

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.

Ridgetop Review Consulting Rates

Expert network consulting rates vary widely and are determined by a variety of factors, such as the seniority and how recent your relevant title is, how niche the industry is, and demand for your insight. In general, you can expect to be offered $100 – $200 if you are a Director level or below, or $200 – $500 or more for experienced executives.

While these rates are pretty standard, you should know that you can renegotiate your rate if you find you are getting inundated by project participation requests. Many C-suites and other high executives who have a history of successful calls command rates of $500. Some experts make $1,000-$1,500 a call, but you should know that it is not common and demanding a super high rate right away will likely mean your profile will never be sent to the client. That being said, feel free to negotiate a rate that is commiserate for your time and energy to participate fully.

It’s important to keep in mind that your rate will be pro-rated based on the amount of time you are in the call with the client, so it’s in your best interest to keep the conversation flowing freely. 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 paid accordingly, so you should try to at least make it to the hour.

Acing Your Ridgetop Research Consulting Call

Once you’ve been vetted, negotiate a rate, are selected by the client, and provide your availability, you’ll be scheduled for the phone consult

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 your years of experience in your industry. 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. The client has done extensive research beforehand and it should make for an interesting conversation.

The types of clients you will encounter are will be institutional investors (at Ridgetop, that will be private equity, mutual funds, and venture capital firms) and are bound by strict compliance policies that prevent them from soliciting proprietary information. This policy should also be laid out to you prior to the call, so you understand what you can and cannot discuss in the call. 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.

What’s Next?

After the call, your payment information will be collected, and you can expect payment within 14 days via ACH direct deposit. 

Now that you’re part of the Ridgetop Research expert 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.

If you haven’t already been contacted by Ridgetop Research about a project, you can reach out an an associate by emailing [email protected]

Dialectica Review

Have you received a message from someone from Dialectica, seeking a few minutes of your time for a paid consulting opportunity? Are you wondering what this opportunity is legit or a scam? Learn what to expect and how to land high-paying consulting projects with our review of Dialectica, one of Europe’s fastest growing expert networks.

What is Dialectica?

Dialecticanet logo

Dialectica is an 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!

Founded in 2015 by former management consultants, the firm now consists of 250 employees across 4 offices in Athens, London, New York, and Montreal. Dialectica offers three core information services: 1-to-1 expert conversations, project- length expert engagements, and surveys or reports generated via expert knowledge.

Dialectica is certainly a legit company. It has facilitated over 20,000 projects and was included in the Financial Times’ 2021 list of Europe’s fastest growing companies. It was the fastest growing expert network on the list, ranking 300th on the list with £10.5 million in 2019 revenue – 525% growth since 2016. (Larger European expert network Atheneum Partners also made the list at #701.)

What’s it like to consult on a Dialectica project?

If you have been contacted by an associate from Dialectica, your LinkedIn profile likely indicated that you would be a good fit for a project. Associates generally use the following criteria to judge whether you are a good fit for a project:

  • You used to work at a company a client is trying to learn more about. The general rule of thumb is that you must be at least 6 months removed from the target company.
  • You currently or used to work for a competitor to a company the client is trying to learn more about.
  • You have relevant experience in a parallel industry or market, or worked for a company that was customer of the target company.

The associate will send you a link to a questionnaire that will ask for more details on your relevant work history, as well as a sampling of the questions the client will want to ask in the 1-hour phone consult. It’s important to understand that these questions are not meant to replace the interview, just prove that you have the knowledge and experience they are looking for. The questionnaire shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to fill out. You may also be asked to give your availability for a 1-hour call.

It’s important to keep in mind that even if an associate thinks you are a good fit for the project, and you think you are a good fit for the project (based on the vetting questions), there is a chance you may not be selected for a call. The associate will submit your profile to the client for review, and there are plenty of factors that affect whether you get the project: consulting rate, vetting question response time, time to accept the compliance document, and other factors outside of your control. Even if you don’t get this project, going through these motions will register your in their database and ensure you are identified quickly for future engagements.

In talking to other experts, I’ve heard a few complaints about Dialectica project spam – frequent consulting requests for projects that are significantly far off topic. Making sure your Dialectica profile is crisp and specific is a good way to cut down on off-targets requests (and land more on-point opportunities). The survey and consulting requests that I receive from Dialectica have mostly been well targeted at my area of expertise.

Setting your Dialectica Consulting Rate

Expert network consulting rates vary widely and are dependent on how recent your experience is, the depth of your experience, and job title. Typically, you will receive project requests for experience in companies or job titles within the last 3 years, but the more recent your experience is, the higher likelihood you have of landing the client call. Similarly, the higher your job titles, the higher rate you can command.

Typically, you will be offered $100-$200 for a role below the Director level. A Director or above will likely be offered $200-$350 for participation in a call. While you can absolutely negotiate for a higher rate (and you should!), it’s unlikely that you will be successful in securing more than $100 above the initial offer for your first call. 

You can always renegotiate each time you are contacted for an opportunity. You should try to gauge the demand for your experience— are you receiving a high volume of requests? — and evaluate how niche your industry or experience is to determine a fair rate. Some experts can command rates of $500- $1,000, but those experts are often in small or niche industries where it is difficult to source experts, or they are trusted experts who have completed several successful calls and proven their worth to a network.

You should also know that your rate will be pro-rated (by the minute) based on the amount of time you are in a call. If the call goes under 1 hour, you will not be paid for the entire hour. Conversely, if the call goes over the hour, you can expect to be paid more than the initial negotiated rate. 

Acing Your Dialectica Consulting Call

Dialectica consulting projects

An expert network consulting call is not like other types of consulting engagements in that you are not expected to prepare or generate a deliverable. The questions the client will be asking should be easy for you to answer, based on the depth and breadth of your experience in a given industry. If you are asked a question you don’t now the answer to, it’s best to admit you don’t know and offer to follow-up with the answer, or give it your best educated opinion. 

Most calls are centered in a company the client is performing due diligence on. In this case, the client will want to understand the target company’s positioning, go-to-market strategy, business model, key challenges and opportunities, and the competitive landscape. The client will likely have done extensive research on the company and industry, and are getting a sense of the company’s growth prospects by testing their hypotheses against your knowledge.

It’s important to note that clients are not seeking proprietary information on the company. In fact, exchanging proprietary information in an expert network consulting call is illegal and considered insider trading. Many calls are recorded and transcribed for internal purposes and subjected to compliance tests. The compliance terms will be laid out to you in a non-disclosure agreement prior to the call. Regardless, you should use your best professional judgement when answering questions to avoid any compliance issues. 

Getting Started with Dialectica

Now that you’re part of the network, you will be contacted for more projects that align with your experience. Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your career and knowledge. If you haven’ t been contacted by an associate , you can still register on the Dialecticanet website to be added to their network by signing up to be a specialist here.

Learn more in our Dialectica video review:

Atheneum Partners Review

Have you been contacted by an associate from Atheneum Partners with an opportunity to participate in a hour-long consulting call? Are you wondering if the opportunity — or Atheneum Partners— is legitimate or a scam? Learn if you should work with this fast growing expert network in our Atheneum Partners review.

What is Atheneum Partners?

Atheneum Partners Logo

Atheneum Partners GMBH is a mid-sized expert network headquartered in Berlin, Germany with offices in other 10 countries. It operates a Research as a Service (RaaS) product model to conduct primary research for management consulting firms, investment houses, and corporate clients. They offer a small variety of consulting products, including 1-hour consulting calls, primary research deliverables, and long-form consulting opportunities. Atheneum produces research for projects across 8 industries: Consumer Goods, Energy & Utilities, Financial Institutions, Healthcare, Industrials & Transportation, Materials & Natural Resources, and Public Policy. Atheneum Partners is an expert network that wants to leverage your industry knowledge for their clients.

Is Atheneum Partners fake or a scam?

Atheneum Partners is a legitimate company with a 10 year history that operates all over the world— it is not fake or a scam.  In August, 2021, Atheneum announced that it had raised $150 million in equity investment, led by Guidepost Growth Equity. The company disclosed that is currently generating over $50 million in annual revenue, with growth rates of 50% or more in 2020 and 2021! Atheneum ranked as one of Europe’s fastest growing companies according to the Financial Times (along with the smaller, but faster growing Dialectica.)

However, it’s noteworthy that in the process of researching this review, I found more than a few complaints from consultants about the company’s payment terms, timing, and occasional habit of not sending payment at all. It appears the company has addressed these complaints directly on forums and with the consultants themselves, but it’s concerning as it appears that these complaints are consistent over a long period of time, and continue through 2021. 

While these complaints do not mean the opportunity is a scam, it does indicate that the firm may have some chronic operational issues that could delay your payment longer than the industry standard. Atheneum’s payment terms are within 45 days, while most other expert networks issue payment within a few days or a couple of weeks of completing a project).

(And of course, you should always exercise caution when dealing with people whom you don’t know on the Internet. Beware of impersonators utilizing fake Atheneum Partners email addresses, and know that an expert network will never ask you to send them money.)

Onboarding with Atheneum Partners

If an associate from Atheneum Partners has reached out to you via email, phone call or LinkedIn, you have been selected for screening based on project criteria, including:

  1. You are a former employee of a company the client wants to know more about, usually for due diligence purposes, before purchasing or investing in the target company. You must be at least 6 months removed from your employment with the company to be eligible for participation.
  2. You are a current or former employee of a competitor of the company they are researching, and the client wants to know how the target company is positioned and viewed by competitors.
  3. You are an expert on a related topic, industry, or geography that can offer insight on the industry, even if you’re not overly familiar with the target company or product.

The associate will take a few minutes to explain the project parameters and have you fill out a survey to vet your relevant experience and knowledge. The survey is intended to solicit a high-level understanding of your ability and confidence is speaking to various subjects, and is not intended to substitute the client call. It’s also important to understand that filling out a survey doesn’t guarantee that your profile will be selected by the client. Even if you are not selected for this particular project, participating in this process will register you in their database, enabling you to be quickly selected for future projects.

At the end of the call, the associate will gather your availability for a 1-hour call, discuss your hourly consulting rate, and discuss their compliance policy, which you will need to review and accept to move forward in the process.

Atheneum Partners Consulting Rates 

Atheneum Partners payment problems
Atheneum Partners has received an above average number of complaints about payment issues.

Atheneum’s hourly consulting rates vary widely based on your relevant job title, and how many years you are removed from the industry or relevant job title. The closer you are to the relevant job title, the more likely you can command a higher rate for your expertise. You may have to listen closely to the type of questions they ask to ascertain what part of your employment history is most relevant, but often the associate will ask you directly about a specific title. 

The associate will usually offer an initial rate: $100 – $200 for a title below director, $200 – $350 for a title between director and C-suite, and $350 – $500 or more for someone with a C-suite role. It’s important to know that while this rate might be presented as a final offer, the actual hourly rate is up for negotiation. Some experts get paid $1,000+ for the 1 hour calls via Atheneum, but only if their knowledge is niche, related to a very large company, or the expert has a track record of successful client calls.

The best way to maximize your consulting rate is to let the associate know that you have worked with expert networks in the past and that you already have a set rate. Announcing your rate early in the call, or early in the negotiations, allows you to set the benchmark based on a range that makes the engagement worth your time, rather than allowing the associate’s metrics to dictate your pay. You should note that you can renegotiate your rate each time you are contacted for a project, so you can increase your rate over time as you become more comfortable participating in client calls.

It’s in your best interest to keep the call going as long as you can, as your hourly consulting rate is pro-rated based on the amount of time you’re in the call. According to their compliance document, Atheneum compensates for the initial 30 minutes, and then for every 15 minute increment beyond that, as well as an unpaid 5-minute leeway period provided to each client to wrap up a consultation.

Acing your Atheneum Consulting Call

Most Atheneum consulting calls are centered on a particular company, industry, or product. The client will ask you to discuss the vetting questions in much more detail than in the vetting process with the associate from Atheneum: core competitive metrics, competitive landscape for each industry vertical, product strategies, brand positioning, and customer loyalty are some examples of the topics you’ll be asked to elaborate on.

The client is not expecting you to prepare a presentation or deliverable for the call; they are looking to rapidly download industry knowledge via your many years of experience. You can expect that clients have done their own basic research, reviewed publicly available information, and perhaps heard a management presentation. They have come prepared with specific questions to confirm or clarify aspects of the business.

If the client is an investment manager, the call will likely be centered on a particular company. The client will want to know how the target company compares to its’ competitors, product and feature differentiation, pricing strategy, quality of management, etc. These types of calls will often resolve around your former employer or a major vendor that you worked with frequently, with emphasis on the key factors influencing your decisions.

Alternatively, if the client is a management consulting firm, the call will be centered on a particular issue or problem they have been tasked to solve. The client may be looking to develop a marketing strategy, solve chronic operational issues, or restructure an organization. These types of calls will often center your approach to an issue, your impressions of various products, factors that influence budget and purchase decisions, or to provide feedback on potential new products or solutions.

You should have an easy time answering the questions during the call- after all, the client wants to learn about an area via your experience. Even so, you may not have all the answers, or know figures off the top of your heads. You can always be honest and say you don’t know, and you should never make up answers. Clients often have multiple calls on the same subject and if it becomes apparent that you lied, you may be blacklisted.

It’s important to note that you will never be asked to share non-public or proprietary information during a client call, and Atheneum will have provided you with clear compliance guidelines prior to the call. In the rare event that you are asked to disclose non-public or proprietary information, you should decline to answer. Atheneum records their calls and offers transcription as a service to their clients, so you should know that exchanging this type of information is considered insider trading and could be met with considerable legal issues. One of the key responsibilities of expert networks is to ensure that improper information isn’t exchanged on a client call, with both parties bound by strict compliance standards.

What’s Next?

Atheneum offers payment via PayPal or ACH direct deposit, and you can expect payment within 45 days of the completion of the call.

Now that you’re a part of the network, you will periodically be contacted for participation in new projects, especially as you build a history of completing successful client calls.

Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your experience. If you haven’t been contacted by an associate from Atheneum Partners, you can still register to be added to their network by visiting their website.

Learn more in our Atheneum video review

Magellan Research Group Review

Did you recently get a call, email, or LinkedIn message from an associate at Magellan Research Group with an offer for a paid consulting opportunity? Getting paid a high hourly rate for just an hour of your time sounds almost too good to be true – perhaps you’re wondering if Magellan is legitimate or a scam?  Here’s what you need to know about landing high-paying consulting projects with this fast growing expert network. 

What is Magellan Research Group?

Magellan Research Group Review

Magellan Research Group is one of a plethora of expert networks that have appeared in recent years to source experts for market research projects for institutional investors— usually private equity, hedge funds, and consulting firms. Magellan Research Group is legitimate – it’s certainly not a scam! – and has been operating for 10 years from its offices in New York, NY. Their core product is the 1-hour phone consultation, although they offer a variety of services, such as management checks, custom industry surveys, and industry conferences. The firm is small, and specializes in a personalized and streamlined expert experience by utilizing the most efficient process to cut down on paperwork and vetting time so experts can focus on client calls.

It’s not uncommon for an expert to be asked for a follow-up call, or follow-up project with the client, which would be compensated at the same rate. Usually this happens when a client expands on a project, adds a new angle, or just has an excellent conversation and wants to work more closely with you for their project.  A short phone call can sometimes turn into a lucrative consulting project via Magellan!

While one hour client calls are Magellan’s bread and butter, they can be a springboard to larger consulting opportunities.

What to expect

If an associate from Magellan Research Group has reached out to you, it’s likely that you fit the criteria for a project:

  1. A former employee of a company on which they are doing due diligence. The industry standard practice is to source experts who are at least 6 months removed from the target company to ensure that any information exchanged is immaterial and thus not insider trading.
  2. A current or former employee from a competitor in the same industry.
  3. An expert on a specific topic, market, or geography from a parallel industry. This could include a current or former customer of a product or type of product.

One of the most time-consuming aspects of working with expert networks in general is the amount of paperwork an expert has to complete to apply to work on a project after they have been identified as a potential fit. While other expert networks will frequently ask you to complete questionnaires detailing your relevant work experience, Magellan’s associates do the work for you by crafting your biography based on the vetting conversation. 

It’s important to give the associate the best high-level view of the topics they are asking about, as the client decides which expert to take a consult call with based on their biography. The vetting conversation is meant to be short, lasting no more than 15 minutes, but associates will stay on longer if you’re willing to provide more details, because those details could be the key to selling the call.

At the end of the vetting conversation, they will let you know if they believe you are a good fit for the project and if so, discuss your hourly consulting rate, your availability for a client call, and an overview of the compliance policy. Even if you aren’t a good fit for this particular project, you can still be added to their expert network database and may be tapped for future opportunities.

Magellan Research Group Consulting Rates

Magellan’s hourly consulting rates vary widely and the initial rate you are offered will be determined by a number of factors, including your job title and how many years you are removed from the industry or relevant job title that the client is researching.  The closer you are to the relevant job title, the more likely you are to be chosen for a call, and thus more likely to command a higher rate.  While you may have been called about a job you held three years ago, it may be unlikely that the client will take a call with you.

If you are below a director-level role, you will likely be offered $100-$200. If you are a director or above, you will be offered $200-$350. The associate is authorized to offer as high as $500, but anything higher has to be approved by a manager and could mean that your profile is not proposed to the client. Some experts really do get paid $1,000 or more per call through Magellan, but usually after they complete several calls and demonstrate that they are able to consistently offer clients the type of conversation that is extraordinarily useful and informative. 

The best way to maximize your consulting rate is to let the associate know that you have worked with expert networks in the past and that you already have a set rate. This lets the associate know you are experienced and know your worth. It also sets a benchmark for the negotiations, so you can limit the pay range to what makes the engagement worth your time. Additionally, if you have been contacted for many projects, your knowledge is probably in demand and you can renegotiate your rate with each project.

You should note that your hourly consulting rate will be pro-rated based on how long you are on the call, so it’s in your best interest to keep talking (er, providing valuable insights!) to keep the client on the phone. Like many expert networks, Magellan really pays by the minute, so you won’t receive your full hourly rate if the call is an under hour, though the good news is that you’ll earn extra on calls that exceed 60 minutes – nothing beats earning an extra $50 by keeping a good conversation going a little longer!

Acing Your Magellan Client Call

Okay, so you’ve done the vetting call, settled on a rate, and scheduled a call. What can you expect?

The vast majority of client calls are centered on a particular company, industry or product. The client will want to know the details of the industry— how it works, business models, verticals, customer types, competitive landscape, key growth drivers, challenges, and trends. 

The client is not expecting you to prepare for the call— they are looking to rapidly download knowledge of the industry via your many years of experience. Clients have generally done their own research, reviewed publicly available information, and heard a management presentation. What they are looking for is an insider who can confirm the research and give an informed opinion of the growth prospects and challenges of a particular industry, company, or product.

If you’re speaking with an investment manager, they are likely researching a particular company, they will want to know how it compares to its competitors, product and feature differentiation, quality of management, etc. These calls will often revolve around your former employer or a major vendor that you work with frequently, in which case they’ll want you to compare it to other similar products you vetted, with emphasis on the key factors influencing your decision.

Alternatively, the client may be a management consulting firm, which is tasked with developing a marketing strategy, solving operational problems, restructuring an organization, or other issues.  These calls will often dive into how you approach a particular issue or problem, your impressions of various products, how purchase and budget decisions are made, and to provide feedback on some potential new products or proposed solutions.

You’ll usually have an easy time answering most questions during a call – after all, the client wants to learn about an area that you’ve been working in for years.  Of course, you may not have the answer to everything, so don’t feel bad for saying that you don’t the answer to a certain question; the client will move on to the next question on their list and they aren’t paying top dollar for made-up answers!

It’s important to note that you’ll never be asked to share non-public or proprietary information, and Magellan will provide you with clear compliance guidelines several times before you connect with the client.   One of the key responsibilities of expert networks is to ensure that improper information isn’t shared with clients, who are bound by strict compliance standards.  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.

What’s Next?

Immediately after the call, you should get an email thanking you for your participation. There will be a link to the invoice system, which will offer 3 different payment methods: ACH direct deposit, a physical mailed check, or a donation to a charity. Magellan processes all expert payments at the end of the month.

Now that you’re a part of the network, you will periodically be contacted for new projects, as associates are more likely to tap you for projects if you have a history of completing successful calls. 

Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your experience. If you haven’t been contacted by a Magellan Research Group associate, you can still register to be added to their network by emailing [email protected] to get started.

AlphaSights Review – Should You Consult for the Second Largest Expert Network?

Have you received an invitation to consult with AlphaSights, offering to pay you a high hourly rate for holding a brief phone call with their client? Wondering if it’s a legitimate opportunity or too good to be true? Learn what you need to know about working with one of the world’s largest expert networks in our comprehensive AlphaSights review.

What is AlphaSights?

alphasights logo

AlphaSights is one of the largest expert networks, and is considered to be one of the “the big five” firms that dominate the nearly $2 billion industry.  Some industry estimates name AlphaSights as the second largest expert network after behemoth GLG.

Co-founded in London, England in 2008 by Max Cartellieri (also the founder of Ciao AG) and Andrew Heath (founder of GoIndustry). Within a handful of years, they launched branches in New York, Hong Kong, Dubai, San Francisco, Seoul, Hamburg, Tokyo, and Shanghai, connected clients around the world with experts across countless business sectors. Cited in 2017 by Financial Times as one of Europe’s fasting growing companies, AlphaSights calls itself a “professional services firm.” Its mission statement? “To connect the world’s top professionals with the world’s best knowledge: reflecting our fundamental belief in the power of connecting humanity’s knowledge.”

Overview of Expert Networks

If you’re reading this review of the AlphaSights expert network, perhaps it’s because you received an LinkedIn invitation to be an expert consultant or advisor. Now you’re doing your due diligence to research the company and see if AlphaSights is legitimate or if you’ve been targeted by some type of scam. Maybe you aren’t certain if such networks are an actual thing! The concept seems too good to be true—a company that pays you hundreds of dollars an hour for consulting other companies? 

Well, expert networks are a nearly $2 billion global industry, and as one of the biggest firms, you can rest assured that AlphaSights is legit. They build a giant pool of subject matter experts, then, as a sort of middleman agency, they advertise that pool to organizations that might need services. There’s nothing mysterious about it; it is a business model we see every day and think nothing of it. (That said, online scams are certainly prolific, so you should be suspicious if someone asks you for money or payment information to participate with an expert network!)

Management consultants and investors are the primary clients of expert networks like AlphaSights, with corporate customers representing a small but growing customer segment. One major business decision can drive a company’s entire trajectory, make or break them, earn (or cost) them millions in revenue. That’s why clients typically pay AlphaSights $1,000 per hour or more to source experts like you.  While the hourly cost seems quite high, it is a trivial amount to spend to gain insights that shape multi-million dollar (or more) decisions!

It isn’t just management consultants within companies that seek out experts for advice; investors do, too. AlphaSights’ clients are looking for the “straight dope” from seasoned pros who’ve had their boots on the ground inside a specific sector and can speak truth to power without fear of ramifications or a need to please the boss. 

When an AlphaSight’s associate reaches out to you with the promise of sky-high rates for an hour of  your time, they’re not exaggerating.  Many experts charge $250 – $500 for a one hour phone call, with lower rates for younger professionals and significantly higher ones for very senior executives or people with very specialized expertise.

(Alphasights is also one of top 20 recruiters of college graduates and hires large intern classes throughout the year, according to careers site Handshake. So if you’re reading this review to prepare for an interview for the AlphaSights associate program or intern programs, you’ll find this information helpful as well!)

What should you expect on an AlphaSights consulting call?

Alphasights recruiting
Alphasights recruiters frequently reach out to prospective consultants via LinkedIn

How do phone call consults go for an expert network project? There are three types of calls you can expect. The first is a request for a “company deep dive”; the next is a much broader industry overview. The last is a consultation with other subject matter experts (sometimes called knowledge bomb conversations. See our Ultimate Expert Network Guide to learn more about those). 

The deep dive is of particular interest to potential investors looking for keen insights into a specific company before deciding to sink money into it. Industry overviews help paint a big picture about a sector’s customers and future. Calls from other experts empower firms to improve offerings; essentially, they borrow your expertise to boost their credibility in their customers’ eyes during times of change or crisis. 

It’s important to note that confidential calls are held to a high compliance standard, and consultants should not disclose privileged information. They can dive into complex financial data, and possibly personal insights about management, strategy, customer complaints (or other information that is releasable yet may not be published on reports), though. When an AlphaSights call is finished, the Advisor’s obligation is over and payment is sent within a few days!   

Do I qualify as a subject matter expert? 

When expert advisors get started, it is common for them to wonder if they possess knowledge a company or investor would pay to hear. Some go through a phase of “imposter syndrome,” as if they are simply pretending to be experts. Luckily this feeling goes away fairly quickly, especially when the checks start rolling in. 

There are thousands of clients in need of all types of insights and feedback. They receive significant benefits from reaching out to consultants. If they didn’t, expert networks wouldn’t be a billion-dollar industry. But how can you be sure you qualify? Well, we’ve talked about the three main types of calls that are made—the company deep dive, industry overview, and consultation. Most of us who’ve worked within a particular company or in a specific sector for a few years have gleaned unique knowledge from those experiences. That knowledge has value and is marketable! 

How do I set my AlphaSights hourly consulting rate?

Alphasights consulting fees

If you’ve been working for only a handful of years for a particular company or sector, you might set an hourly rate between $100 – $150/hour with AlphaSights. Seasoned members can charge up to $300 – $500 an hour, while major corporate players might ask for thousands of dollars. 

When choosing what you feel is a reasonable rate, keep in mind three things. One, customers aren’t looking for the cheapest rates; they are looking for the best value. Two, your insights may drive a decision that could be worth millions of dollars, so don’t undervalue your services! Three, remember that AlphaSights will markup your services considerably. 

Check out our comprehensive guide on how to set your expert network hourly rate, which dives into the weeds on pricing models. The better you understand how pricing works, the more you can set an AlphaSights consulting rate that fairly compensates you yet doesn’t scare off clients. 

What are the downsides to consulting for AlphaSights?  

AlphaSights operates a large, competitive network filled with highly-qualified advisors. There is no guarantee of work, and it takes time to establish your reputation. You may receive invites to bid on projects, but it can get frustrating to spend 5 – 10 minutes each time, tailoring and polishing up bids that get rejected. The trick is to learn from each experience and be persistent. 

Like many expert networks, project opportunities through AlphaSights tend to be feast or famine so it’s hard to count on this revenue and not uncommon to go for very long stretches without landing a project.  On the flipside, if you’re a top expert on a hot topic or company, you may briefly find yourself inundated with project requests.

How can I win more AlphaSights consulting projects?

To get hired more often, it pays to be discovered! This means optimizing your Advisor profile with relevant keywords and search terms. Ensure your profile is concise, impactful, persuasive, and error-free. It should feature a strong summary of employment history and relevant knowledge. Read a few profiles of high-priced consultants in your field and borrow ideas that apply. Then, if needed, hire a writer to help you punch your draft up!  

AlphaSights’ Client Service Team works hard to connect clients with industry experts who can offer the right answers. You must be proactive and keep an eye out for opportunities, then get your proposals out the door! However, don’t cut-and-paste generic wording. Take time to tailor the phrasing so you’re speaking to the client’s unique needs. Yes, that takes longer, but the return on investment will be higher. And the more consultations you complete, the more feedback you’ll receive. Those feedbacks help you land work! 

As you put out proposals, you’ll walk a fine line between selling yourself and staying objective about your qualifications. Every client is different, but they all value honesty, so be clear about what you can offer without promising the moon and stars. Give concrete examples from your past that feature hard numbers and the tangible impacts your work made. Show how your knowledge can add value and is worth the price of admission. 

Now that we know who can afford those high-priced consults, let’s explore what types of consults are available! 

What types of consulting projects does AlphaSights take on? 

AlphaSights offer a wide range of services, via their network of external industry experts. Not all of AlphaSights’s “knowledge-holders” aka Advisors are C-suite types. Expert advisors are pulled from all levels of virtually every business sector. They come from all backgrounds and different countries to engage with clients remotely, running the gamut from market intelligence, broad industry perspectives, specific organizational insights, and general advice to inform decision-making. 

The types of projects they take on are as varied as their massive client roster, which means AlphaSights has opportunities for a wide range of specialized experts. For large scope projects, they might put together a team, but in general, you might expect to do 1:1 calls starting out. 

Consulting Calls

Clients use AlphaSights to connect with advisors and hear insights and solutions. Advisors get to decide what projects to take on, and what times are mutually convenient to do the calls (though it pays to be flexible). There’s nothing to prepare, though it can be helpful to do some research ahead of time for specific projects. Once a call is over, there’s nothing more to do except kick back and wait to get paid.  

Expert advisors get more than financial compensation, though. They gain invaluable opportunities to expand their own network, build relationships, hone their skills, and learn new things. With each call, the consultant adds value to their own portfolio. 

As mentioned above, all parties must be very mindful of avoiding compliance pitfalls. Clients can’t ask for sensitive or protected information such as trade secrets, and advisors can’t share it. Parties on an AlphaSights call are obligated to comply with ethical rules and legal restrictions. Apart from that, the direction of the call is largely up to the client. They might have an endless stream of questions, or might want to learn what types of questions they should be asking! You’re paid to listen, respond to the best of your ability, and let the call go on for as long as it needs until the client is ready to get off the line. Again, AlphaSights pays per minute, so you’re compensated if a call stretches over the standard hour. 

Broader Services 

AlphaSights states that they “source and qualify the best industry experts for our clients to speak to via phone, in-person meetings, and full-day workshops.” In-person meetings are similar to phone consultations but are sometimes more suitable (except when there’s a pandemic going on!). For now, we won’t dive too much into the workshops, lucrative though they may be. Most Advisors start doing phone consults, so that’s the best place to focus your energies until your reputation on the platform is secured. 

Is AlphaSights legit or are this a scam? 

AlphaSights is entirely legitimate and has a solid history. With offices in New York, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong, Seoul, and other major cities around the globe, plus a client roster featuring multinational conglomerates, they have established themselves as a leading institute in the expert network trade. AlphaSights vets applicants to ensure they are contracting only professionals to serve as Advisors for their clients. This occurs through an Account Manager who facilitates the process to save clients some legwork by narrowing down choices. 

AlphaSights model is also helpful because of its discretion. Instead of a business casting a wide net in its search for independent advisors, it can simply go through AlphaSights and limit the number of people hearing about the request. In today’s business world, news of a company seeking outside advice can create a buzz. So, even though AlphaSights is serving thousands of clients every day, their business, by nature, is somewhat discrete. 

How much should I charge, and how much can I earn at AlphaSights?

AlphaSights, like other expert networks, doesn’t explicitly list a lot of details about how much their consultants make. If you think about it, why would they? They don’t want customers to see the markups! Again, expert networks earn a living by charging a substantial markup on the amount that they actually pay out to the folks doing the work.   

So what should you charge? Set your expert network rate too low and it’s quite possible to leave hundreds of dollars on the table, while if you ask too much you could not only lose out on the project, but burn your relationship with an entire expert network.  

It’s not a simple question to answer, but if you learn how to thread the needle, you can maximize your earnings by landing the most opportunities at your highest average rate. The best way to decide upon an hourly rate is to get started on your account. To do that, you can reach out to AlphaSights via their Contact Us form. Under the options, select that you are interested in being a potential Advisor. If they reach out to you to create a profile, you should be able to review other profiles and gauge the going rates for industry experts with comparable backgrounds. 

Conclusion 

If you have experience-based knowledge and insights worth sharing, hopefully this AlphaSights review has shown that you can probably connect you to customers who’ll pay for it. It doesn’t get any better than earning a few hundred an hour to hold a business discussion with a stranger! 

AlphaSights likely doesn’t want to deal with a flood of candidates banging on their door, so their process is not overt. Their website is aimed at business clients, not at recruiting Advisors. However, if you reach out to them via their Contact Us form, you should hear back from a rep soon. You’ll never know until you try! 

Learn more in our AlphaSights video review

Next: Learn how to conveniently earn hundreds of dollars per hour with our Ultimate Guide to Expert Network Consulting




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