Next Gen Expert Networks

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Two expert networks recently expanded, one raising capital and the other acquiring a peer-to-peer network, supporting our view that the expert network model is alive and well especially when applied to non-financial markets.  Aristotle Circle, which sources experts for schools and college admissions, recently acquired Peer2Peer Tutors, Inc. which connects high school students with high achieving fellow students.  Doximity, a new social media website which acts a feeder to expert networks, raised $10.8 million in March and then partnered with several expert networks to power their health care searches.

Doximity

Doximity was started by Jeff Tangney who was a co-founder of Epocrates, which provides popular mobile applications for doctors.  Tangney is no stranger to expert networks, having incorporated an expert network into Epocrates’ business model.   Doximity enables physicians to use their iPhone, iPad, Android device or computer to connect with any other healthcare professional in the U.S. to collaborate on patient treatment or identify the appropriate expert for patient referrals.  Dare we say it: an expert network.

Doximity’s business model is similar to that of Epocrates (or LinkedIn) in that there is no cost to health care professionals to join the network.  Doximity makes money by selling access to the health care community it builds.   It claims 30,000 members, representing over 5% of U.S. physicians.

One of the ways to monetize its community is through expert networks.  Instead of creating a captive expert network Doximity has chosen to give access to multiple expert networks.   Doximity sets a minimum consultation fee of $250 per hour which members can adjust upward.   $250 per hour is low for doctors, which on existing expert networks can charge up to $1500 per hour, but Doximity appears to be acting as a wholesaler to expert networks which would then mark  up the fees further.  The platform makes it easy for physicians to set up their profiles by automatically integrating data from PubMed, Clinicaltrials.gov and other public databases into physicians’ profiles.

Aristotle Circle

We have made note of Aristotle Circle in the past.  Founder Suzanne Rheault is a former equity analyst from Morgan Stanley who was familiar with the expert network model and decided to apply it to the educational space, creating a network of admissions professionals, guidance counselors, school administrators, financial aid advisors, and child development experts.  The acquisition of  Peer2Peer Tutors adds a new dimension of matchmaking students for tutoring.  Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Peer2Peer Tutors was founded by Erik Kimel when he was a high school student and employs a network of pre-screened high school and college tutors.  Since its founding in 2004 in the Washington, DC area, Peer2Peer has provided more than 100,000 hours of tutoring, serving over 5,000 families.

Conclusion

Although the expert network business model has taken a hit in the financial community, the fundamental appeal of leveraging networks of expertise remains strong.  Health care and education are two natural markets where there is high demand for expertise.  Expert networks are a natural offshoot of social media, and we expect additional innovations as social media continues to evolve.

 

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