Expert Network Review – ProSapient Paid Consultations

A new entrant to the expert network space, ProSapient‘s offering blends the capabilities of tradition expert network with machine learning tools. They are based out of London (Crunchbase profile) and offer both expert consulting calls and broader surveys. By reports, they are a rapidly growing player in this space.

Were You Invited to A ProSapient Paid Consultation?

If you’ve been invited to a paid consultation with ProSapient, congratulations. They’ve tagged your profile as a relevant authority within an area of interest.

Based on their typical use cases, clients will generally be:

  • Private Equity Investors – Building Information for an Industry Investment
  • Strategic Planners – Seeking to understand a relevant market
  • Management Consultants – Seeking to rapidly get up to speed on an industry
  • Institutional Investors – Mutual Funds and Hedge Fund Managers

From what we’ve been told, the process is generally what you would expect from an expert network call. Like any good expert network, they put a strong emphasis on regulatory compliance to avoid insider trading exposure. Sharing confidential information through expert network services is a dangerous game not worth playing. These restrictions are particularly tight for publicly traded companies, so be careful what you share about any companies where you are a former insider. (Ethically, you should not accept engagements related to your current employer. That’s a massive minefield.)

In terms of catching their notice, our best advice is to keep your LinkedIn profile updated and compelling. They are generally looking for subject matter experts and advisors and will keep internal databases of qualified consultants (from past interactions and LinkedIn). Generally speaking, most expert networks, unlike consulting firms, will come to you (vs. the reverse).

Expert Calls – Typical Questions

So what is the typical agenda for an expert consultation?

It depends on the client, as well as the expertise needed. Given the cost, most expert consulting engagements are centered around a couple of specific business questions that require a very high level of knowledge about the space. A company or hedge fund might be looking for insight into a new market, and want a consultant with expertise in that area to supplement their primary research.

A large number of calls are basically what I refer to as “rapid industry training” for management consultants and investment professionals. For example, a private equity professional may need to learn the particularly of a specific industry so they are ready to work on a particular deal. These calls with advisors and independent consultants allow them to accomplish this in a few hours.

You should be prepared to discuss the common business models within an industry and revenue models that support them. Most clients will also be interested in an assessment of the key competitors within an industry and top customer segments. Consultants should be ready to identify the largest consumer of a particular service. Along the same lines, if there are significant human resource or operational issues involved in managing within a particular industry this will also be of keen interest.

Growth and competitive factors are another area of interest. Be ready to break down your assessment of an industry’s growth potential to explore the key drivers of growth. Remember that a client will probably have similar expert consultations with multiple consultants: they are generally less interested in the outcome of your analysis (“sales will grow 5%”) that the facts which led you to that conclusion (“because Fortune 500 companies are finally adopting the technology”). If you give them the facts, they can mix and match between consultants later to develop their final assessment.

Once again, make sure you stay in compliance with the regulations and agreements that pertain to your company, your client, and the industry to avoid insider trading and costly legal action.

The same applies to business risk and opportunities for operational improvement. Be ready to discuss various aspects of the business and common ways to improve the company’s results. Many private equity clients are particularly interested in this topic.

Broader Capabilities

Unlike many other expert networks such as alphasights, GLG (Gerson Lehman Group), Third Bridge, and Dialectica, ProSapient has built out a broader set of research management and talent recruiting capabilities. This includes:

  • Managing online survey programs on strategic issues
  • Compiling transcripts from their expert network calls
  • Recruiting talent for post-deal roles via their platform

The latter is particularly interesting, since there have been many expert network calls I’ve done where it would have been nice to get a shot at doing post-deal improvement work. Apparently with ProSapient that is an option (based on their website)..

The ProSapient platform is a key selling point in their offering, since it allows them to integrate machine learning capabilities into the traditional offering. This research platform is designed to streamline the research process for industry experts,helping you connect a question with the right experts. Given that calls are recorded and thus can be data mined at a later date, watch for these capabilities to play an increasing role in the firm’s operating model and expert network service offering going forward.

ProSapient Consulting Rates

In the absence of other guidance from your recruiter, my recommendation would be to quote your ProSapient consulting rate in line with what you charge expert networks. Looking at the expert network market as a whole, I’ve seen $150 per hour as a low end number which can usually be pushed to $300 without much effort. An experienced adviser can get $500 per hour once they demonstrate their expertise and marquee talent (former CEO’s, TedX speakers, etc.) can command rates of over $1000 per hour. We describe the logic of how you justify the rate in this article.

Incidentally, ProSapient included a wonderful article about paying your experts what they are worth on their blog…

Working at ProSapient – Recruitment Process

Working at prosapient – interview process

Reports vary, but consultant candidates should be aware they’re applying to a startup company. Many recruiter and interview processes appear to be evolving in respond to feedback. Initial screening is remote, followed by an in-person interview (usually the third interview).

Their basic approach appears to be a three stage interview process with questions that focus on strategic research capabilities. Be ready to break research problems down into parts and match them up with action plans. Anything related to “open book” competitive intelligence is potentially fair game. Some literacy in finance and marketing concepts is also advisable, as it will help you break the problem down into the appropriate parts.

Communication may be a bit spotty; keep an eye out for executive contacts, get their phone numbers, and make an effort to follow-up to get expert interviews.

Outside of that the usual rules apply. Listen. Think before you answer. There’s some value in looking at the case prep materials that you’ve seen for places like Mckinsey (eg. breaking problems into sets of Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive issues). This origanization caters to high end consulting companies as a key end user.

Raise Your Profile – Other Expert Networks (Signup Links)

If you’re interested in raising your profile as an expert, run through the list below and sign up for the networks which are relevant to your skills and geography.

Got Perspective?

Do you work for ProSapient? Work with ProSapient?

Drop us a line and share your perspective on their services!

Contact us at