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There’s no definitive guidebook to C-Suite decision-making — the literature will only get you so far. Sometimes a consultation is just the thing for the questions keeping you up at night, but finding the right expert can be costly and time-consuming.
Germain Chastel, a Harvard graduate and former associate partner at McKinsey & Company, experienced the frustration firsthand — and decided to do something about it. He’s the founder of NewtonX, an artificially intelligent (AI) “expert search engine” that connects executives to experts in virtually any industry and which today announced a $3 million funding round from XFund, Third Prime Capital, and select investors.
“At McKinsey & Company, I realized how difficult it was for executives and government officials to access specific, non-public knowledge. That’s when I started working with … data scientists to develop a solution,” Chastel said. “Our AI connects governments, corporations, financial services firms, and even startups with answers to million dollar questions, for a fraction of the price.”
Here’s how it works: NewtonX’s search tech, which was developed by a former Google engineer, uses algorithms to parse questions for domain knowledge cues. It correlates its findings with a knowledge graph of “thought leaders” — current and former CEOs, board advisors, academics from MIT and Harvard, and keynote speakers — that it taps for real-time recommendations.
From an executive’s point of view, it’s as easy as creating a profile, filling out a form, and accepting a connection request from one of NewtonX’s clients. Automated scheduling and billing tools take care of the rest.
NewtonX said it’s given insights into fields ranging from quantum computing to 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.
It’s not the only startup using AI to build a network of human expertise, of course. Zurich-based Starmind‘s platform automatically forwards questions to domain experts within companies, and GrowthEnabler connects large corporations with people and companies that match their needs.
But COO Sascha Eder claims that NewtonX’s approach is much broader in scope. For example, he said, its proprietary speech-to-text software enables it to deliver surveys and reports at twice the speed and half the cost of traditional panels. And on the compliance side of things, so as to prevent conflicts of interest and breaches of confidentiality, it has implemented a system that allows organizations to register guidelines concerning consulting activity. [VentureBeat has published guest posts by Sascha Eder.]
“I used to be on the client side of expert networks when I worked at McKinsey, and saw a missed opportunity for automation,” Eder said in a statement. “The industry is a perfect use case for AI today.”
New York-based NewtonX was founded in 2016 and has two offices abroad. Its team of 25 employees serves more than 20 clients, including “top management consulting firms,” “large technology companies,” and “leading financial institutions,” and the company said it achieved “seven-digit” revenue this year.
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