A pair of former management consultants have created a company and service, NewtonX, that aims to address a problem they experienced first-hand: finding qualified B2B influencers to participate in market research projects.
Based in New York, NewtonX was launched quietly in 2016 but is beginning to market itself more aggressively following a $3 million round of seed funding it raised earlier this year. The service is based on an algorithm that scans the web for publicly-available information about specific kinds of business professionals based on their role, industry and so on. NewtonX can then contact a list of the best possible influencers on behalf of its clients to see if they would be willing to participate in a survey or telephone interview.
According to Sacha Eder, founder and COO at NewtonX, the idea for the service grew out of roadblocks he and his co-founder Germain Chastel encountered while working at consulting firm McKinsey, when a large client in the tech space was often looking for people to weigh in on areas such as virtual reality, AI and big data. Though there are so-called “expert networks” that specialize in running survey panels for research purposes, Eder said the results often weren’t meeting expectations.
“They were relying on existing panels, or they couldn’t find the experts,” Eder told B2B News Network. “Sometimes they would not be the relevant people, or you could only ask a small portion of the questions. When they needed to source new ones, it would take four to five days.”
NewtonX looks at sources that include not only LinkedIn but question-and-answer site Quora, Google Scholar and others that might include e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Once they have been contacted and have opted in, they can take part in an existing research project the firm is helping its client produce, or they can be an ongoing part of the NewtonX database for future projects.
Eder said the technology behind the service allows it to offer the automation, speed and quality that many enterprises have been struggling to produce.
“The way the traditional expert networks work is like the recruiting industry before LinkedIn came in, or the taxi industry before Uber came in,” he said. “It works well, but it’s extremely manual, and if you want to do something at scale it becomes really painful.”
Some early NewtonX clients have included a firm that conducted a survey on data security with more than 1,000 CISOs sourced through its service.
Because NewtonX focuses on publicly available data, Eder added, it avoids breaking any privacy or other regulations that prohibit inappropriate outreach, and the initial contact can validate an influencer’s qualifications to ensure the database remains accurate and up-to-date as it grows.
The company can also assist clients with lead generation, both in terms of building a list of prospects and even confirming their level of interest, he said. For the moment, however, NewtonX will focus much of its efforts on simply connecting businesses with the kind of influencers that will inform their strategic direction.
“It was really important we create a knowledge search engine, and not a marketplace,” he said. “No one wants to work with a 10-year-old network of experts.”