Anyone heard of Activate Consulting?

Was doing my bored linkedin scrolling and stumbled across this boutique. Quick search shows they do consulting primarily within the media space, founded by a super legit ex-Mck senior partner. Also see that most of their business analysts come from really strong schools (Princeton, Penn, Dartmouth etc.).

Few questions: Anyone know what kind of work/clients they do? Hard to imagine students and clients choosing Activate over MBB/T2. As someone actively involved in recruiting at MBB, have never heard of them but seems like they pick from the elite schools.

Comments (6)

Jun 24, 2022 - 10:53am
FinnesseGod, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's not uncommon for ex-MBB/T2 partners to start their own boutique consultancy. Their value add is simply their relationship with existing board members/ex-clients and the fact that they often target SMB (small/medium sized companies) in a specialized or niche space. They operate under a lean model since they don't have any of the inefficiencies of a large firm and they often avoid simply bidding for work and approach potential clients from warm connections from their industry experience. 

The client is happy because they get to hire a firm they trust at rates that are better than T2/MBB with specific skills and the firm is happy because they work on what they choose without as much bureaucracy of a large firm. 

As for students, they may enter a boutique for an internship or 1-2 year FT position to build their skillset before lateralling to T2/MBB or industry within Media space since they would develop a specialized skillset. The Partners or leadership often target their alma matter and recruit via on-campus recruitment. Canada has a few boutique firms that operate under this model for which they target Ivey or Queens students for final year internship and FT conversion.

  • Summer Associate in Consulting
Jun 24, 2022 - 7:08pm

I'm an alum from one of the schools you mentioned and have not heard of this firm. I feel that its unlikely students are choosing this firm over MBB/T2 (maybe T2 if comp is in line with T2 or they see a career path at this firm. Like FinesseGod said, the value for clients might be higher than that of MBB if they can get the same quality work for a fraction of the cost due to less overhead. Also, like FinesseGod said, I know of a few boutique consultancies/IB firms/PE firms that recruit nearly exclusively from their alma maters or through referrals from family/friends/employees.

If you are considering this, I'd be sure to talk about promotion availability with people at the firm because I know that some firms promotion to senior levels of leadership are much harder to obtain due to the company being smaller and the "slots" being effectively filled. 

Also, I'd like to note that I wouldn't infer too much about the quality of the firm just because they have a lot of hires from prestigious schools. At every school, there are people who are not that smart/hard-working/desirable to hire. 

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  • Manager in CorpStrat
Jun 29, 2022 - 3:10pm

I interviewed with them a few months ago and it was a really bad experience. Everyone at the analyst to engagement manager level was quite nice and had a lot of positive things to say about the firm, but I noticed a lot of them kept speaking to the same project experiences which leads me to believe it might be a few marquee engagements a year + a lot of minor one-offs from different other clients, which might be fun for you but depending on what you want from your job, but a different/larger firm could offer you more staffing opps + flexibility. One major engagement they kept talking about also was not at all within their marketed practice area of media & entertainment which I thought was weird - not necessarily uncommon for consulting boutiques, but so far out of scope that I wondered what it meant in terms of the robustness of their pipeline.

Shit really started hitting the fan when I made it to partner rounds, most people seemed quite rude/pretty disrespectful:

  • One partner gave a case that was explicitly not about their practice areas (i.e. any previous experience you have in TMT will not be helpful - DM me for details if you want), and was set up in such a vague and inarticulate way so as to almost be impossible to answer well - think something like "imagine I give you a dataset of purchases of [CPG product]. If I tell you that the average price of [CPG product] is going down, how can you use the dataset to answer why?" Without telling you if they are talking about purchase price, wholesaler/retailer price, etc. or describing what actual information/fields would be in the dataset, or what each row would represent. All clarifying questions were treated dismissively and the case played out not at all like an actual data-driven project would have gone. This partner also was just generally extremely rude otherwise, and seemed to like making me feel dumb for asking simple/get-to-know-you questions.
  • Another partner decided last-minute to go on vacation during my interview so they took my interview from a random coffee shop with so much background noise he was almost unhearable, and he kept also putting himself on mute to talk with the people he was with.
  • I was supposed to meet with the CEO as a final round but it seemed clear they weren't going to give me the offer, but instead of telling me/the recruiter they weren't going to give me the offer, they instead re-booked this interview three different times, and at one point, I joined the conference call to meet him and I waited 15 minutes until his chief of staff joined and told me he wouldn't be able to make it. ??? At that point just ding me!

TLDR avoid if possible. Can't imagine that working under management that also treats employees' time that way is a pleasant experience either.

  • Analyst 1 in Consulting
Jun 29, 2022 - 10:47pm

Thanks, OP here. Sounds like not the best experience. Just to clarify, I'm already at MBB and been here a bit now, could see how my initial wording made it seem like I was still recruiting. Meant to say I am heavily involved on the recruiting team and haven't heard of Activate when it seems like we target a lot of the same schools!

  • Analyst 1 in Consulting
Jun 29, 2022 - 10:47pm

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