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 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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org