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Do you think this rash is serious? experts weigh in…

Feb. 19, 2012
Personal Finance
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Do I need to go to the doctor for this worrisome rash? Where do I put gambling losses on my tax return? My dog keeps eating grass – should I worry about this? These are some of the questions that professionals on expert advice site answer every day. Consumers can pay one of  Pearl’s 10,000  to answer their questions. Experts are available in verticals that range from veterinarians to accountants. Responses arrive within the hour and start at around $15/answer though some experts command higher prices.

We sat down with CEO Andy Kurtzig and John-Paul Valdez, a financial expert who answers financial questions on to learn more.

So who are these experts? How do I know they’re legitimate? has an extensive 8 point screening and qualification process which includes steps like an application, credential verification, subject matter tests, and secret shoppers to ensure ongoing quality. As CEO Andy Kurtzig said “The biggest difference between when we started and now is the amount of vetting we do.

What’s in it for the experts?

Getting paid doesn’t hurt, but for financial expert John-Paul Valdez, there is an added benefit.  “I’m a consumer advocate, and I’m glad to help disseminate accurate information to consumers.” Some experts do it full-time, while others use the platform as supplemental income to their regular jobs. Most requests are on-offs rather than lead-generation efforts on the part of service professionals.

Why should I pay for answers when I can find free answers online?

CEO Andy Kurtzig sees’s offerings as much closer to full service professionals, rather than competitive with free online question and answer sites. “We’re able to dramatically lower the costs of professional advice. Previously, your options were pretty binary: expensive professional help, or free and not necessarily trustworthy advice has been building its business slowly and steadily over the last 8 years. It was bootstrapped and received no institutional funding until this past year. Kurtzig’s first two companies had been venture-backed, and he wanted to build his third company differently. “Outside capital doesn’t determine success, it’s the customer that does that. Taking outside money can create huge expectations and lead to gambles early on in a company’s life. With a two-sided marketplace, you need to be patient, and build it up one at a time. You can’t go too fast – you need to match experts with people asking questions” 

We found Pearl’s offerings to be prompt and accurate, and think they are a great resource for consumers with pressing questions.