You’ve likely been reached out to by GLG, Coleman, Ridgetop Research, Thirdbridge, Alphasights or Guidepoint to be an “expert” and share your knowledge in a 1-hour call for some cash. After 50+ calls and over $50,000, we have learned a thing or two about how to navigate this and how to best take advantage of this opportunity.
What’s happening is people who want information (normally investors or research-based consultants) are paying these companies to find them experts. They are paying them A LOT because they have plenty of cash (think Private Equity, Hedge funds, Mutual Funds, big name Consulting Firms like McKinsey, etc.) and they need detailed answers and they need them quickly.
They’re usually doing research on a company or perhaps an industry to get some kind of advantage: let me research Uber Eats growth in the US to figure out if I should invest in Doordash or acquire Postmates.
With that known, let’s jump into how to optimize your time for money.
1. How do I price myself?
There are two things to consider here:
- The people paying for your expertise have a ton of cash (do you know how much cash a Hedge Fund has?)
- There are other experts out there, and you do want to be competitive. That being said, don’t let this be a race to the bottom. Pick a high rate and stand by it. You may get fewer calls, but if your rate is high enough, you actually prefer this (10 calls at $1,000 / hr beats 20 calls at $350 / hr)
So, pick a high number that you feel really good about, and stick to it, even if GLG tells you it’s too high. Their business model is to keep the difference between what they get paid and what they pay you, so they’re incentivized to get your rate down.
I started out at $250/hr and quickly moved up to $1,000/hr, and still got dozens of calls.
2. They want to prorate my time
This is putting the power in their hands. Take it back. You blocked off an hour for this call, get paid for it. You can simply tell them you have a 1-hr minimum for your time, thus need to be paid for the full hour even if they only ask questions for 35 minutes. Stand strong on this, even if they push back. You can get it.
3. I keep getting asked to do projects not in my area of expertise, what do I do?
This is incredibly common, and quite frustrating. I put that I was an Operations and Launch expert at Uber, Uber Eats, and Uber Freight and I’m getting emails about detailed insurance plans for automobiles. It’s clear their algorithms aren’t very sophisticated, so they cast a wide net when trying to find experts for the project they have.
My advice: if you get projects that don’t align closely with your expertise, don’t bother applying. You likely won’t get chosen for the project and even if you do, you’ll get on the phone and not know answers to their questions. Because you need to answer some “pre-screening questions” that they relay back to the client, you still have to get selected for the project.
These pre-screening questions can be a huge waste of time if you’re answering them every time and not winning the project. So choose to apply for projects that meet your criteria well. Then, answer the questions in some detail so you have a high probability of getting chosen. Otherwise, you’re likely wasting your time.
4. But applying for projects is annoying, time consuming, and I don’t win a lot of them
I know. It’s not fun to apply for projects and not win. What I do to cut down on this time is have a standard 2-3 replies that I save in a text expander tool (I use aText) so this way, when I see a project come through, I just copy and paste that text, send over my availability, and I’m done. It takes me under 2 minutes now. Usually, my relevant expertise for these calls is about Uber Freight, and here is my response:
I managed the Carrier Operations team for Uber Freight for nearly two years from our launch in January 2017 through October 2018, and have since been consulting for companies in the logistics and Freight space.
At Uber Freight, I built up the operations team, and played a key role in the initial strategy and operations. I became the Head of Carrier Operations, and in this role I shaped the direction of Uber Freight’s Carrier Strategy as it related to carrier acquisition and engagement, and played a key role in marketplace dynamics, pricing, product prioritization, and service expansion decisions.
Given that experience, and my current work with technology start-ups in the Freight and logistics space, I can speak to the Freight landscape, the impact on technology and tech start-ups in the space, and my best guess to what it will look like over the next 3-5 years.
I’ve closed a lot of calls with the above note!
5. I was asked to do one call with a group of multiple clients - what do I do?
First, don’t accept this at your “normal” rate. You're not incentivized to share in a group setting when you could get paid way more by doing individual calls. What you can do is get paid per client that joins. Ask how many clients there are, and get paid per client that joins. You won’t get your normal rate times the number of clients, but you can give some reasonable discount per client, and ask for that. As I said, my normal rate is $1,000 / hr, and I’ve done $650 per client, times the number of clients that joined.
6. What should I do if I’m on a call and asked to divulge proprietary information?
Stick to your boundaries and don’t answer uncomfortable questions. The people paying to talk to experts are usually investors of some kind (Hedge Funds, Mutual Funds, researchers, etc.) and their job is to get data to make financial decisions. They're not supposed to ask you anything that's not publicly available, but they often do anyways. When they do, you can politely decline to answer so you're not violating any laws.
Now, go out there and make some money!