Advisors · Advisory boards

Has anyone used ExecRank to source advisors or find advisory roles?

David Berkowitz Tech-Savvy Marketer, Marketing-Savvy Technologist

August 24th, 2015

I recently got a pitch from ExecRank which helps companies find board members and advisors, and then has members pay about $200/month to search for open board seats and network with other members. I'm skeptical of the model and am more focused on supporting companies I'm already working with right now, but I am curious to hear if anyone's used them and what that experience has been like.

[Update: The answers here are astounding and should give anyone pause before spending any time or money with ExecRank and the like. Thanks all for continuing to share your experiences.]

Denise Corcoran CEO, Leadership & Organizational Game-Changer | CEO Advisor | Consultant | Coach | Growing Leaders that Grow Companies

May 23rd, 2016

Hi Everyone,

Somehow I missed many of the prior updates since March till now.  I also promised to update the group about my experience with ExecRank.

I joined ExecRank the 1st week of Jan.  As of this month, I have downgraded my membership (till next month).  Yes, they do have a downgraded membership not advertised on the website from what I can see.  Maybe it's new.

In the last 5 months, I had somewhere between 40-50 board opportunities opened.  Not one interview to date.  I actually have tracked all opportunities on a spreadsheet and where in the 5 step process (with dates) that ExecRank has before application goes to the interview stage.  Once I started to get visibility to how long it took for my application to move from 1 stage to another, I started to call various managers/directors at ExecRank to get answers why it took so long.

I also had a problem with lack to transparency (except for canned generic emails) in ExecRank with those of us who are footing the bill for ExecRank to stay in business.  I also had a problem with why the companies seeking board members have nothing at stake $$, have no incentives to move forward in a reasonable fashion and to eliminate those not serious.

Some of the things I found out when I probed deeper, especially why the process took so long once an application was "under review," I was told that ExecRank sends as many as 100 applications for one opportunity.  No wonder why no one is getting any interviews!  ExecRank does nothing to really match or select "best fit" candidates for board opportunities from what I can see.  I have no clue on where their value add is.

Final comment ... I did an experiment and actually signed up as a company seeking board advisors.  Again I was curious why it took so long.  I did not carry the experiment all the way.  I got a flurry of broadcast emails about the various advisor days.  Beyond that I did not see any attempt to engage me into the process as a company seeking board members.

I will be canceling at mid June in keeping with their cancellation requirements.  Hope my experience was helpful for someone.

Michael Williams Sr. Mgr, Sales Compensation at AIG Life & Retirement

March 16th, 2016

Sarah Oliver,
It appears that Jonathan Aspature, Chairmen & CEO at Exec Rank is a member of your board since 2014.      I Might be looking too much into this, but something seems off to me by that and your comments.

John Lombard Canadian entrepreneur in China since 1993

September 24th, 2017

To add to what others have said — I consider it a scam. I was approached by one of their agents, named David Kavrell. I got a highly scripted presentation that claimed I was an ideal candidate, would get all sorts of offers, etc. At no point was I asked if I had any questions, just went straight to the closing.

I had a question, however. I wanted to know why they used a subscription model of $200/month, rather than the more traditional model whereby they take a commission from successful matches. This question obviously upset him, as he quickly turned defensive, and made a rather obvious attempt at the whole “withdraw the offer” sales tactic.

That ended our call, but I got a really friendly email afterwards about how much he had enjoyed our conversation, and encouraging me to follow through. I then had a brief email exchange with him, which I am sharing here, verbatim, for everyone else:

My Email Response and Proposal

Dear David,

I am writing to let you know that I will no be signing up for ExecRank, at least not based on the pitch you made. And I wanted you to know the reasons.

I could go into the online research I've done about ExecRank, which has revealed a rather incredible level of unhappiness from past users. However, I wish to take a different approach.

I asked you one question during our talk, a question that I consider critical to this whole equation -- your income model. You make money exclusively from signing up members for your services. You do not make money from actually placing them successfully on a board.

And that means one thing -- that your sales must be driven by signing up as many members as possible, regardless of the actual qualifications, experience, or ability of those people. In fact, when I looked at the complaints that some of the people had about your site, I found that many of them were dreadfully unqualified, and highly unlikely to ever be considered for a position on a board of directors -- but they'd received the same sales pitch I did, promising all sorts of wonderful things.

Now, in our interview, you said that you were confident that with my background and experience, I could get board positions. And I do think that I have valuable and unique experience and knowledge to offer, especially to those interested in doing business in China.

So here is my proposal: I don't pay you a cent. You guys help me craft my resume, and you guys present it to all those thousands of boards that you claim to have lined up. And for every board position that you successfully place me on, I will pay you a commission of 20% of the value of the first year's salary for that position.

Now, according to your own sales pitch, I should be expecting to be getting at least $50,000 per year from each board position. 20% of that would be $10,000. Which would be equal to four years of membership fees at $200/month. If you get me two such positions, that's $20,000 for you guys. That's a shitload more money than you will ever make from charging me a $200 monthly membership fee.

Here's the thing -- If you truly believe that my qualifications are suitable, and that you can find me board positions, there is no reason whatsoever not to accept my proposal. The only reason not to accept it is that you are, in fact, not confident of your ability to get me a role on a board of directors.

And if you are not confident in your ability to do so, why the hell would I pay you $200/month?

His Response

Thank you for your well thought out and thoroughly explained proposal. You are entitled to your opinion, but you are wrong. The reason we can not do as you asked is that it would be unfair to our current 10,000 members. I am sure that you can understand that. There are many reasons for people to write bad reviews, but I will leave you with just one thought. We are a month to month model, why would we do that if by letting you on and giving you access to all of our members you could find out how miserable they are?

I wish you all the best, but to determine not to proceed because of what a bunch of strangers say seems illogical to me.

Thank you for your time.

My Conclusions

His response only confirms my opinion. His claim that my proposal would be “unfair” to their members is patently nonsense — how is it “unfair” to pay a company for actual results, compared to paying them a monthly fee even if they do nothing whatsoever for you? Not to mention that the model I proposed is one that is used by hundreds of companies, and I don’t hear people complaining that it is unfair.

“If you get me results, I pay you. If you don’t get me results, I don’t pay you.” How is that “unfair”?

Then there’s the fact that, both in our phone call and in this email response, he fails entirely to address the question of why I should trust him, given that the company’s obvious business model is to sign up as many people as possible, regardless of their qualifications, since that is the only way that they can make money!

He also obviously misses the irony in criticizing me for listening to “what a bunch of strangers say”, while simultaneously expecting me to believe him — a stranger who profits from getting me to buy his service.

As I emphasized in my email to him, were this company’s services legitimate, and were they confident in getting board positions for me (and their other clients), they’d be idiots not to use the pay model that I proposed, as they’d make far greater profits. They’d get far higher revenue, while also significantly decreasing the complaints from their clients. After all, who’s going to complain? If they’re not successful, I pay nothing — and have nothing to complain about. If they are successful, I pay them a previously agreed fee, and I have a board position — again, nothing to complain about.

The only reason for them not to use this model is that they know they cannot deliver on their promises.

David Evans Angel Investor

March 28th, 2016

Avoid as a potential advisor. Signed up for over a year, applied to dozens of opportunities, got contacted for one troll looking to raise money (but did not disclose in advance). Don't waste the time, money, and energy. They compile a list of stale opportunities and never follow up with you or the company. When they do contact the company, it's pretty much cold. Most "applications" just expire with no notification. Can find 2/3 of their "openings" by doing a Google search which is how I suspect they get most of their listings. Have requested proof they have done ANY work on my behalf...only want to give me the same sales pitch numbers they used at signup. 

Sam Glassenberg Chief Executive Officer

August 24th, 2015

Based on some quick research I did when they contacted me, it appears to be a total scam. 

David M

September 24th, 2017

Very interesting. There was a recent post about ExitRound. The CEO stated that their business model was based on done deal transactions essentially. What I pointed out was that their business model is getting entrepreneurs to pay $99-$499 per month for their "algorithm" matching pitch process. They also stated they had 70 success stories in three years. With 4000 members that is a 1.7% success rate! (Perspective and wording) AND that is assuming those 4,000 members have stayed those three years. If they have had 12000 members revolve with membership in three years, that decreases to .5% success. NOT great numbers.

People don't always perceive situations with much thought. Think about it, Exit round is wanting you as an investor. That's all it is. They take your money and promise results. So if someone came to you right now and said "Hey Mr.S. Investor. I have a GREAT concept. We have had over 70 success stories ranging from $100,000 to $15M. You could be one of them. I just need you to invest $500 a month." The next question should be "What is your rate of success? is my chance of success." If they answered openly and honestly, it would be "Well Mr.S investor while people do win the a transaction.... Your personal rate of success based on our numbers is 1.7%. But its only $500 a month. YOU TOO COULD WIN THE PUBLISHERS CLEARING HOUSE..if you buy a bunch of magazines" Who in their right mind thinks that is a good deal??

Good concept of matching but for all the positives of computers, algorithms etc..the numbers are poor. In this case, I would advise the entrepreneur to put in some personalized research and start reaching out..more direct...more intelligent and specified than any computer engineer could achieve. Maybe if you don't have the time, or if you have so much money you like to give it away..I don't know..but 1.7% success or less???

The results seemed similar to what Im reading here. I would be curious to know the numbers of ExecRank in terms of how many people they place. The concept of ExecRank could make a bit more sense, but at $200 a month? Seems steep.

These types of businesses truly are about them, not you, not your business. They generate revenue on the fact that they are open to EVERY one and not exclusive. Which that makes people feel good, and for some it obviously works. But I liken some of this to the Hollywood Agencies...and managers. The successful ones don't charge upfront. They only get paid upon successful transactions. The agents and managers who have no pull or little ability for success charge upfront. And while there are success stories here and there with them, for the most part they make money, and the people paying them lose money. $200 a month is a lot to pay to be lumped in with thousands of other people.

Anu Shukla Founder & CEO at RewardsPay Inc.

March 23rd, 2016

I just wanted to provide a bit more color on my experience. I just think that the business model is stacked against those that are paying the monthly fee. It is tempting for them to keep on telling you a meeting or placement is being worked on and is around the corner because they have your credit card. Services like this would be a lot more believable if they only took a success based fee and screened the prospective candidates better. As I signed up for it , I was concerned that it was a waste of time and money. And for me that is exactly what it turned out to be - and I gave it 3 months plus one more for the notice period.
Also, it feels like a "Board mill" with lots of messages and meetings in the works but  no follow through. 

Mark Miller VP Marketing & CSO at Healthy Directions (A Helen of Troy Company)

May 23rd, 2016

I promised the group that I would keep an update. As of this month I have resigned from ExecRank. In my experience all that was happening was that I was signed onto prospective companies, but no interview. I had about 30 of them. When I said I was thinking of resigning all of a sudden there was a prospective company that sent an email exchange but it was clear that they were so early stage that "Advisor" was going to be "full time" work. Plus it was in the UK. The solution that was offered was to throw more prospective companies at me to raise the list. After 6 months it was going nowhere and interestingly on my own, through my own networks and branding I got multiple expressions of interest that have led to Board of Directorships and Advisory Boards. So I have resigned. Waste of time and money, but so be it.... The information flow was not what was needed, expected or appropriate.

Ran Fuchs Senior executive passionate about new tech.

March 10th, 2017

I was one of their execs for quite a long time. All I will say that I was not impressed. Their best part was their pitch.

Greg Welch

March 27th, 2016

I heard the pitch and was scratching my head as to why a potential advisor/board member would have to pay to find a potential company.  As an advisor I bring a ton of value to those companies that I advise.  Shouldn't this be the other way around? 

They talk about board and advisory positions paying you for your services. This was a total red flag for me, I have done a number of startups and have been an advisor in a bunch, a startup can't afford to pay for an advisor and quite frankly that's not why advisors do what they do. 

I don't think any site like this that asks for money is the right model. That is just my opinion.