As researchers rush to find a Covid-19 vaccine, the business and financial industries impacted by the pandemic have questions. Lots of questions. From in-depth inquiries about supply change disruption to where future growth will come from, Albert Sebag ’99 is answering the call through Guidepoint, a professional network that connects clients with high-level advisors across the globe. He is founder and CEO of the company, which includes 650,000 advisors in 150 industries.
“Guidepoint is a knowledge sharing platform,” explains Sebag, who launched the company in 2003. “Our clients have very specific criteria and questions.”
While the pandemic is generating an all-new set of questions in search of answers, leveraging expert perspectives to provide data-rich analysis and solve complex problems has long been at the heart of Sebag’s company. Clients pay on a subscription basis to access Guidepost’s experts, who provide rapid responses that include everything from a phone call to survey tools to customized data products that provide actionable insights. Guidepoint works across a variety of industries, including health care; energy and industrials; technology, media, and telecommunications; and financial and business services.
“Our business model is really exciting,” says Sebag. “We are constantly adding value because we are answering hard questions all day long.”
Guidepoint itself evolved out of Sebag’s questions about how to fulfill his personal interests and professional passions. While finishing a PhD in organic chemistry at Northeastern University, he decided to go to law school. “I enjoyed chemistry, but I knew it wasn’t a career for me. With law school, I planned to embark on a whole new career,” he explains.
“I’m a risk-taker. So, I decided to start my own business in 2001, right after 9/11. My timing was horrible. But at the same time, it was the right time. I realized there is no good time to make a change, so I just went for it.” —Albert Sebag ’99
After graduating from BC Law, Sebag joined Kenyon and Kenyon in New York as a patent litigator. But the fit wasn’t quite right. “I’m a risk-taker, he says, “so, I decided to start my own business in 2001, right after 9/11. My timing was horrible. But at the same time, it was the right time. I realized there is no good time to make a change, so I just went for it.”
The company Sebag founded, Cancer Advisors, capitalized on the relatively new concept of using the internet for health research. “My focus was on compiling a database of clinical trials for cancer. Because of the way the health-care system was built, doctors wouldn’t send patients to other hospitals. So, people became more proactive in searching for where else they could find new treatments.”
While the concept was innovative, Sebag was unable to secure financing to stay afloat. But the concept did catch the eye of financial firms looking to invest in experimental drugs. “They were willing to pay for this information, so I decided to pivot,” he recalls.
Thus, Guidepoint was born. Sebag’s background in science and law is one of Guidepoint’s major selling points because the company ensures compliance. “People want to go through a platform like ours because we have educated the people in our database about confidentiality,” he says.
As Guidepoint evolves, it’s clear that Sebag’s inquisitive nature—“after all, chemistry is about interactions that create change,” he says—will continue to direct his professional roadmap. “I wanted to do something that didn’t feel like a job. Some people are risk averse, whereas for me taking risks is second nature. I just had a wholehearted belief that I could put my mind to something I was passionate about and get it done.”