AlleyWatch: This NYC Startup’s AI-Powered Search Engine Connects You to Domain Experts

February 7, 2021

Imagine getting instantly connected with an expert, that lives and breathes specific domain expertise, before you make any decision.

The article was originally posted on AlleyWatch.

NewtonX, an AI-powered knowledge access platform makes this possible. Serving multiple use cases, the platform connects users with subject matter experts for one-on-one consultations, group workshops, or full-scale surveys. The knowledge platform taps into info from multiple data sources from over 600M experts and is backed by investors that include Xfund, Third Prime, and Story Ventures.

AlleyWatch sat down with COO and cofounder Sascha Eder about creating this powerful platform.

Tell us about the product or service that NewtonX offers.

NewtonX is an AI-powered knowledge access platform. The NewtonX platform uses a proprietary search methodology, built by our CTO and Founder Anuja Ketan, to connect clients with subject matter experts for one-on-one consultations, group workshops, or full-scale surveys.

The types of data clients may be seeking range from determining the market size of quantum computing in 2025 for IBM, to best practices in crisis management for the oil industry, to the most likely color palettes at the Paris fashion show for a global luxury brand.

How is NewtonX different?

Leveraging a proprietary search methodology along with a dynamic automation system, NewtonX delivers experts to clients faster and at lower costs than competitors. Additionally, because the NewtonX algorithm taps into multiple data sources with over 600M experts total, its pool of potential experts is much larger than the closed networks that competitors rely on.

What market does NewtonX target and how big is it?

NewtonX targets numerous multi-billion-dollar markets. Our top three markets in terms of revenue are the market research industry, the management consulting industry, and Fortune 100 enterprises. However, we also count PE firms and VC funds in our client list, and we have previously worked with government agencies and done ad-hoc projects for startups.

What is the business model?

NewtonX is an expertise search engine. Essentially, we connect clients looking for very niche, specific expertise to experts who possess this expertise. We do this primarily either through one-on-one interviews over the phone or video or through online written surveys.

Our business model relies on clients paying experts for their knowledge, and NewtonX taking a search fee. The underlying service is always a fast, high-quality identification of relevant experts.

What inspired the start of NewtonX?

My cofounder Germain Chastel and I conceived of NewtonX when we worked at McKinsey & Company, where we experienced many of the same pain points that our clients have today. Large-scale surveys of C-suite executives, global influencers, or niche subject matter experts did not exist in the market. We needed reliable data from highly specific populations, but we had no way of accessing this data at scale. Additionally, I was frequently operating under tight time constraints, making it difficult to go through a firm to access data and market insights while still meeting the deadline. In this, I saw a missed opportunity for automation – the industry is a perfect use case for AI today.

You are essentially operating a two-sided marketplace. Has it been more difficult to obtain experts or those seeking expertise?

The answer to this is highly dependent on the project — some projects have required incredibly niche expertise that only 5 people in the world or less possess. Finding, contacting, and onboarding experts in these cases is always challenging. On the flip side, it’s been a challenge to scale rapidly in accordance with our ever-increasing request workload. This year, we went from having three clients to having over 20 clients with increasingly large and long-term projects (such as year-long survey trackers with thousands of respondents). Building up a team to meet this demand has been a challenge, but one that we’ve definitely met head-on.

What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?

We are currently working on a site and platform redesign that will allow clients to self-serve to a much greater degree. Additionally, we recently raised $3M in Seed funding, and we will be pursuing a Series A to evolve our proprietary technology and continue expanding our team.

What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?

Because I attended an MBA program and also advised other startups in my position at McKinsey, I received ample advice from some of the world’s best experts.

One important lesson I learned on my own, though, was that you can almost always recover from mistakes if you handle them correctly. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, both internally and with clients, but have learned that forgiveness follows action; if you show that you have remedied an error and have implemented processes to ensure it doesn’t occur again, people will forgive mistakes.

If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?

Jessica Lawrence Quinn, former CEO of New York Tech Alliance. I am a big proponent of the New York tech community and also admire Jessica because she is an advocate for women in tech, which is also a cause very dear to me. I would love to meet her to discuss how to build an ethical company, how to proactively ensure that women hold leadership positions in tech, and how to leverage automation without taking the humans out of work.

Why did you launch in New York?

I am originally from Germany, and my cofounders are originally from India and France. We all ended up in New York because of its wealth of opportunity, particularly for B2B startups. Additionally, the talent pool in New York is incredible: some of the best colleges and postgraduate programs in the world are in this city, and many of their graduates end up working at NewtonX.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

My favorite restaurant in the city is Cocina Del Sur. It’s a casual Latin-American eatery in Midtown that serves health food bowls, and it is close to my home and to the office. It has great vibes, great music, and I go there often with my girlfriend, great memories.

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