VentureBeat: NewtonX raises $32M for AI that connects customers with subject-matter experts

December 9, 2021

Originally published in VentureBeat on December 8, 2021:

According to Forrester research, between 60% and 73% of all data within an enterprise goes unused for analytics. The challenge is often surfacing knowledge from people with experience in a particular field, who might be distributed throughout branches of an organization. The average large business loses $47 million in productivity each year as a result of inefficient knowledge sharing, according to Panopto. In fact, Panopto estimates that knowledge workers waste 5.3 hours each week either waiting for information from their colleagues or recreating existing knowledge.

The inefficiencies inspired Germain Chastel and Sascha Eder — former McKinsey analysts — to cofound NewtonX, which leverages search technologies to connect companies with subject-matter experts both inside and outside of the organization. NewtonX today announced that it raised $32 million in series B funding led by Marbruck Investments with participation from Gaingels and Level One Fund, which brings the company’s total raised to more than $45 million.

CEO Eder says that the new funds will be used to expand NewtonX’s headcount and further grow its technology platform. “We have grown 40 times since founding the company in 2017 and have plans to more than double revenue in 2022 and in 2023,” he told VentureBeat via email. “The company had several months at profitability, but is currently prioritizing growth over profitability. That being said, it’s great to have a clear path to it.”

Surfacing knowledge

Customers start with a business problem, which NewtonX turns into a custom search query across its database of 1.1 billion experts in 140 industries (e.g., “CRM software decision makers who work at Fortune 500 health care companies”). The database spans professional networks and third-party websites with publicly available professional profiles, like LinkedIn.

Once a list of experts who might be able to help with the problem are identified, NewtonX’s consultants craft personalized messages to pique the experts’ interest and verify the experts’ identities. To customers, NewtonX arranges in-person meetings and relays raw data, survey results from 10 to 10,000 respondents, and analyses from the experts that it ultimately contacts.

“[W]e start with one-on-one interviews and use those qualitative in-depth insights to inform a survey to refine the initial findings at scale and quantify them. Then we take the survey results and follow up with individual respondents who provided interesting insights to discuss further. Since every professional that works with NewtonX goes through a two-step ID check, we can reconnect with them to drive deeper learnings,” Eder explained. “Even though we’re a startup, we compete for business-to-business research projects against the leading market research companies who are often very established, large organizations. That’s because nearly all market research companies specialize in business-to-consumer, and they sometimes have difficulty with reaching business-to-business audiences.”

To prevent conflicts of interest and breaches of confidentiality, NewtonX says it’s implemented a system that allows organizations to register guidelines concerning any consulting activity. Automated tools handle expert consultation scheduling and billing.

A growing network

While 98% of leaders acknowledge the need for high-quality data, only 51% say they have access to the data they need, according to Experian.

NewtonX claims to have provided insights into fields as disparate as quantum computing, the oil industry, fashion, and titanium ore extraction. For one client, it set up 10 videoconferencing sessions with data monetization experts to answer questions about best practices. For another, it recruited a team of engineers and salespeople to develop strategies around the virtual reality market.

NewtonX competes with Zurich-based Starmind, which has a platform that automatically forwards questions to domain experts within companies. Another rival, GrowthEnabler, connects large corporations with people and companies that match their needs.

But NewtonX claims its roughly 200 customers include “decision-makers at top institutional investment firms,” Fortune 500 enterprises, financial services firms, banks, big tech companies (including Microsoft, Pinterest, and Fortune), and consultancies. The 75-person company grew 100% in size year-over-year and has plans to hire over 200 employees by the end of 2022.

“We fared well despite the pandemic. Our work easily transferred to a remote setting because of the way we already managed the fielding and delivery of surveys and interviews in a remote and digital setting,” Eder said. “As a lot of businesses were being very careful with their resources, we saw an uptick in research requests. Companies were taking more calculated risks with their budgets. They were willing to spend real dollars on solid research to be sure about their decision, before launching a new product or initiative with millions on the line.”

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