WakeUpNow Review: Simple idea, complex comp plan
WakeUpNow was founded in 2009 by Troy Muhlestein who I believe serves as Company Director with WakeUpNow operating out of the state of Utah in the United States.
Muhlestein claims that he founded WakeUpNow following “a corporate merger” that left him “looking in from the outside”. According to ‘Business Week‘, this company was ‘Longview Fibre, a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management Inc.‘
Today Kirby Cochran serves as WakeUpNow’s CEO (since 2011), increasing his role in the company from being an investor and advisor.
Recently WakeUpNow seems to have gone through somewhat of a relaunch after announcing a partnership with That Free Thing:
The primary reason cited for the partnership on a company call back in May 2012 by That Free Thing co-founder Matt Goettsche was that “at $10 a month, there’s not a whole lot fo money to be made for an average person…that makes it worth your time, money and effort building it“.
I initially suspected that offering free stuff as a business model wasn’t really viable in the long-term and with That Free Thing having attached their name to a series of opportunities over the past six months along with Goettsche’s admission above, that appears to be the case.
In October 2011 That Free Thing launched a Daily Deal coupon style site with “Vendor Network” and then in March of this year tried again with blog-hosting via “Blog Network“. Both opportunities never really seemed to take off and gain any traction.
If I had to make an educated guess, it appears that the partnership between That Free Thing and WakeUpNow is the latest in a series attempts to generate a long-term viable revenue-stream for That Free Thing’s memberbase, which allegedly numbers in the hundreds of thousands.
Read on for a full review of the WakeUpNow MLM business opportunity.
The WakeUpNow Product Line
The only retailable product WakeUpNow’s members are able to market is advertising to potential businesses. This advertising comes under the “WakeUpNow Premiums” and “WakeUpNow Grocery” brands and are essentially Daily Deal coupons available on demand.
Costs to advertisers for running campaigns on these services are not disclosed however when signing up businesses as advertisers WakeUpNow pay out an initial and ongoing commission on the sale of purchased advertising.
The only other thing WakeUpNow members are able to sell is membership subscriptions to WakeUpNow itself which then provides access to a series of services the company offers.
Services provided with paid monthly membership include:
- Personal Finance – “a Personal Financial Management (PFM) tool, full of rich features that give you a clear and simple overview of your finances.”
- Tax Deduction by Taxbot – Taxbot is 3rd party tax software designed to help manage tax deductions for small businesses in the US
- Digital Protection by Invisus – a “digital protection suite” by third party vendor Invisus covering security alerts and information (Cyberhood Watch), identity theft (iDefend), PC security (iSafe)
WakeUpNow membership comes in three varieties with the basic idea being that the more you pay in membership, the more services you are given access to:
- Silver Membership ($24.95 a month) – Access to WakeUpNow Finance or Taxbot Deductions, “Cyberhood Watch” by Invisus and 1 magazine subscription
- Gold Membership ($49.95 a month) – all of the above plus “ID Theft protection” and “Computer Security Services” (Cyberhood Watch, iDefend and iSafe) by Invisus and an additional magazine subscription (2 in total)
- Platinum Membership ($99.95 a month) – all of the above including access to both WakeUpNow Finance Taxbot Deductions and an additional magazine subscription (3 in total)
WakeUpNow members who opt for auto payment of their monthly membership fee are also given additional access to
- WakeupNow Mall – an online shopping mall that offers a cashback to its members
- WakeUpNow Premiums – daily deals style coupons on demand
- WakeUpNow Grocery – grocery coupons
The WakeUpNow Compensation Plan
The WakeUpNow compensation plan is quite complex and at times difficult to understand. I’ve done my best to break it down into an easily readable format but there were some parts even I was unable to get my head around.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of it, GV represents “group volume” which is the sales volume generated by your downline and qualification for commissions is set at 90 “personal volume” (PV) a month.
Personal volume counts as either your own purchase of WakeUpNow membership and/or your retail sales.
WakeUpNow Membership Ranks
Most of the commissions and bonuses in the WakeUpNow compensation plan are determined by a member’s membership rank. There are 18 membership levels in total within WakeUpNow and they are as follows:
- Director 1 – recruit one new WakeUpNow member, earnings capped at $100 a month
- Director 2 – recruit two new WakeUpNow members, earnings capped at $250 a month
- Director 3 – recruit three new WakeUpNow members, earnings capped at 500 a month
- Founder 3 (i) – have at least 3 paying WakeUpNow members in at least three seperate unilevel legs, generate a total of 1170 GV a month (up to 50% from any one unilevel leg), earnings capped at $1250 a month + $400 Founder Bonus
- Founder 3 (ii) – have at least 3 paying WakeUpNow members in at least three seperate unilevel legs, generate a total of 4000 GV a month (up to 50% from any one unilevel leg), earnings capped at $1250 a month + $600 Founder Bonus
- Founder 3 (iii) – have at least 3 paying WakeUpNow members in at least three seperate unilevel legs, generate a total of 6000 GV a month (up to 50% from any one unilevel leg), earnings capped at $1250 a month + $800 Founder Bonus
- Founder 3 (iv) – have at least 3 paying WakeUpNow members in at least three seperate unilevel legs, generate a total of 8000 GV a month (up to 50% from any one unilevel leg), earnings capped at $1250 a month + $1000 Founder Bonus
- Founder 4 – recruit at least four Director 3 members, generate at least 10,000 GV (up to 50% from any one unilevel leg), earnings capped at $5000 a month + $2000 Founder Bonus
- Founder 5 – recruit at least five Director 3 members, generate at least 20,000 GV (up to 45% from any one unilevel leg), earnings capped at $7,500 a month + $4,000 Founder Bonus + $500 Luxury Bonus
- Founder 6 – recruit at least six Director 3 members, generate at least 40,000 GV (up to 40% from any one unilevel leg), earnings capped at $10,000 + $7,500 Founders Bonus + $750 Luxury Bonus
- Founder 7 – recruit at least seven Director 3 members, generate at least 80,000 GV (up to 35% from any one unilevel leg), earnings capped at $7,500 + $10,000 Founders Bonus + $1,000 Luxury Bonus
- Ambassador – have at least one Founder 3 member in seven individual unilevel legs, 50 retail customers and generate at least 450,000 GV
- Ambassador 1 – have at least 1 Ambassador member in at least one of your unilevel legs
- Ambassador 2 – have at least 1 Ambassador member in at least two individual unilevel legs
- Ambassador 3 – have at least 1 Ambassador member in at least three individual unilevel legs
- Ambassador 4 – have at least 1 Ambassador member in at least four individual unilevel legs
- Ambassador 5 – have at least 1 Ambassador member in at least five individual unilevel legs
- Ambassador 6 – have at least 1 Ambassador member in at least six individual unilevel legs
- Ambassador 7 – have at least 1 Ambassador member in at least seven individual unilevel legs
- Ambassador 8 – have at least 1 Ambassador member in at least eight individual unilevel legs
- Ambassador 9 – have at least 1 Ambassador member in at least nine individual unilevel legs
- Ambassador 10 – have at least 1 Ambassador member in at least ten individual unilevel legs
- Diamond Ambassador – requirements not publicly disclosed by the company
Retail Commissions in the WakeUpNow compensation plan are paid out in two ways, either via the sale of retail WakeUpNow membership subscriptions or advertising to businesses.
Retail membership subscriptions attract a 50% commission on the monthly retail membership cost paid. Advertising attracts up to a 50% commission on the initial price paid for an advertising listing and 20% on any advertising purchased thereafter (monthly).
The residual commissions paid by WakeUpNow are done so via a unilevel commissions structure. A unilevel structure places you at the top and every retail customer and/or WakeUpNow member you recruit directly underneath you (forming your level 1).
Retail customers can’t recruit any new members or customers but WakeUpNow members you recruit can and if they do so, these members form your level 2 (along with any retail customers your level 1 members sign up).
This follows on for level 3 and beyond with WakeUpNow paying out commissions on up to 15 levels of a unilevel compensation structure.
How many levels a WakeUpNow member earns a residual commission on depends on how many WakeUpNow retail memberships they’ve sold.
- the sale of Platinum memberships increases the levels a WakeUpNow members is paid out on across all three membership sales
- the sale of a Gold membership increases the levels paid out only on the sale of Gold and Silver memberships
- the sale of Silver membership increases the levels paid out only for Silver memberships sold
For example, if you are currently paid out on all levels up to level 8 of your unilevel and sell a Gold membership, you will be paid out on up to level 9 for all your Gold and Silver membership sales but Platinum will remain payable only up to level 8.
If you’re next membership was a Platinum, Gold and Silver membership commissions would advance to level 10 but Platinum would only advance to 9 (eventually capped at 15 across all membership levels).
Ultimately WakeUpNow members must sell 15 Platinum memberships if they wish to be paid out residually on all membership options on all 15 payable levels of their unilevel team.
With the unilevel commissions above counting both retail customers and WakeUpNow members in your downline, I’m not entirely sure what the Builder Bonus pays out on, but it appears to be a separate unilevel that appears to be payable out on the WakeUpNow member’s income that exist in your downline.
It appears to operate in the same manner as the regular unilevel (payable down to 15 levels with the exact percentages paid out not provided), but is tied into a member’s membership rank and retail sales volume.
One explanation I can think of is that the standard unilevel only counts WakeUpNow customers, but still groups them by level based on the level of the WakeUpNow member who acquired them relative to their own position on your WakeUpNow unilevel organisation (ie. if a level 3 member in your “Builder Bonus unilevel team” acquires a retail customer this customer is placed on level 3 of your regular unilevel team).
As a new prospective member going over the compensation plan material, this isn’t really adequately explained or clarified though in the company-provided documentation covering the compensation plan.
Shared Partnership Bonus
The shared partnership bonus allows a WakeUpNow member to place a newly recruited member underneath one of their downline and directly negotiate the percentage split of commissions paid out on the future earnings of the newly recruit member between the initial recruiter and the downline member they choose to place the newly recruited member under.
For example, if you recruited new member X and decided to place them directly under member Y, who was an existing member in your downline, under the terms of the Shared Partnership Bonus you’d negotiate directly with member Y how much of a percentage of the commissions generated by member X you’d get.
As a recruitment incentive, WakeUpNow reward members for signing up and achieving the ‘Director 3’ rank within a set period of time (the Director 3 rank is achieved upon the recruitment of three WakeUpNow affiliates).
How quickly the Director 3 rank is achieved determines how much of a Director Bonus a WakeUpNow member earns:
- 1-30 days – $100 a month
- 31-90 days – $50 a month
- 91+ days – $25 a month
Building on the Director Bonus, WakeUpNow’s Founder Bonus continues to reward members with a monthly bonus upon meeting specific criteria:
- Founder 3 (i) ($400 a month) – $1,170 GV with no more than 50% generated by any one unilevel leg
- Founder 3 (ii) ($600 a month) – $4,000 GV with no more than 50% generated by any one unilevel leg
- Founder 3 (iii) ($800 a month) – $6,000 GV with no more than 50% generated by any one unilevel leg
- Founder 3 (iv) ($1,000 a month) – $8,000 GV with no more than 50% generated by any one unilevel leg
- Founder 4 ($2,000 a month) – $10,000 GV with no more than 50% generated by any one unilevel leg and at least four Director 3 members per counted unilevel leg
- Founder 5 ($4,000 a month) – $20,000 GV with no more than 45% generated by any one unilevel leg and at least five Director 3 members per counted unilevel leg
- Founder 6 ($6,000 a month) – $40,000 GV with no more than 40% generated by any one unilevel leg and at least six Director 3 members per counted unilevel leg
- Founder 7 ($10,000 a month) – $80,000 GV with no more than 35% generated by any one unilevel leg and at least seven Director 3 members per counted unilevel leg
There is also an option to replace the above with what WakeUpNow call a ‘Founder 3 Option’. This option allows members to earn $50 for each Director 3 member in their downline, up to $1,000 a month total.
In order to qualify for this option members must have 12 Director 3 members in their downline with a maximum of 6 being able to be counted from any individual unilevel leg.
The WakeUpNow Luxury Bonus kicks in at the Founder 5 membership level and is essentially a rank dependent car bonus:
- Founder 5 – up to $500 a month towards an approved car
- Founder 6 – up to $750 a month towards an approved car
- Founder 7 – up to $1000 a month towards an approved car
- Founder 8 – up to $2000 a month towards an approved car
WakeUpNow members must maintain a qualifying membership rank for at least three months before they can apply for the Luxury Bonus.
The Ambassador Bonus is a simple bonus paid out to Ambassador members:
- Ambassador – $5,000 a month
- Ambassador 1 – $10,000 a month
- Ambassador 2 – $20,000 a month
- Ambassador 3 – $30,000 a month
- Ambassador 4 – $40,000 a month
- Ambassador 5 – $50,000 a month
- Ambassador 6 – $60,000 a month
- Ambassador 7 – $70,000 a month
- Ambassador 8 – $80,000 a month
- Ambassador 9 – $90,000 a month
- Ambassador 10 – $100,000 a month
Diamond Ambassador Bonus
The Diamond Ambassador bonus pays out an additional $50,000 a month bonus and a share in a bonus pool, made up of 2.5% of the global commissionable volume generated by WakeUpNow members company-wide.
Membership to WakeUpNow (participation in the compensation plan) is $10 a month.
Standard membership (Silver, Gold and Platinum) does not qualify members to earn and participate in the WakeUpNow compensation plan.
WakeUpNow’s membership options and clear distinction between retail customers and company members are a strong plus for the company. Typically membership orientated schemes throw up a red flag due to a lack of distinction between retail members and company members however retail members are quite clearly defined here.
That said, the complexity and extremely poor manner in which the WakeUpNow compensation plan virtually overshadows this and drags the whole thing down as an income opportunity.
If you want to analyse WakeUpNow beyond the 50% retail sales commission model, things get incredibly complicated. For starters there’s really no need for twenty-three individual membership ranks, with WakeUpNow not even bothering to clarify what the qualification requirements of the final membership level (Diamond Ambassador) even are.
Half of WakeUpNow’s membership levels could easily be consolidated down but it’s almost as if WakeUpNow are trying to play into the incremental rewards system to re-enforce demonstrated achievement by their members.
This winds up working against itself as all it effectively does is overwhelm prospective members (I think twenty-three membership levels is actually the highest I’ve ever seen in a MLM company).
Now granted I’m only a guy with a keyboard but I’ve been analysing MLM compensation plans for a while now and the rest of the WakeUpNow plan isn’t that much clearer.
For starters crucial information like the actual percentage payout on the unilevel commissions are omitted from the WakeUpNow compensation plan documentation. Why they did this I have no idea.
Then there’s the ambiguity in clearly defining just what the difference is between the Builders Bonus and the standard unilevel organisation (referred to as the ‘Retail Bonus’). As I understand it the ‘Retail Bonus’ only counts customer membership purchases but then with customers not being able to recruit members, I’m not sure how they can pay commissions down 15 levels.
And if the Retail Bonus unilevel structure counts members, then what exactly does the Builders unilevel structure count, or are member’s purchases counted doubly (and if so, why isn’t this just stated in plain English)?
As a prospective member that alone would be enough to turn me off the WakeUpNow opportunity when conducting my due diligence but hopefully can be clarified by a WakeUpNow member in detail at a later date.
As it stands I imagine WakeUpNow members are only going to be to successfully recruit new veteran MLM’ers who are able to break down the comp plan, or those who they are able to convince with the ‘you don’t need to understand it, just accept that it makes you money!’ marketing approach.
Personally I wouldn’t even remotely consider joining a MLM business opportunity I couldn’t get my head around compensation plan wise.
Product wise being a membership fee based opportunity it’s hard to establish inherent value in the products bundled with membership.
Taxbot is currently priced at $19.99 a month and iDefend Business from Invisus is $24.95 a month so attracting $99.95 Platinum customers might be a bit of a stretch unless they’re truly looking for all of the services bundled with WakeUpNow membership.
Lead wise I think it’s also worth noting that you’re going to be primarily targeting business owners due to the nature of the WakeUpNow membership tools. Pitching business owners might be a bit difficult given that they’re more likely to ask detailed questions about the products having some business experience themselves.
And if they’re interested in the opportunity and signing on as an affiliate, then we’re back to the confusing manner in which the WakeUpNow present their compensation plan.
Looking at the advertiser route, with the market saturated I don’t really see this as being a viable stand-alone option. It didn’t really work for That Free Thing with their “Vendor Network” and I don’t see it working here either.
You might pickup a few advertisers here and there (remember, you’re primarily going to be pitching WakeUpNow to business owners with advertising budgets so it could serve a fall-back marketing strategy if they’re not interested in WakeUpNow membership), but I don’t think WakeUpNow alone has enough merit to warrant opening with an advertising network pitch.
WakeUpNow are open and transparent enough to provide the public with an Income Disclosure Statement (link working 3rd July, 2012) which reveals that, after over two years of being in business, for the first quarter of 2012:
- 88.95% of WakeUpNow members are earning an average of $50.02 a month or less.
- 96.75% of WakeUpNow members are earning an average of $903.51 a month or less
- nobody has qualified for a rank higher than Founder 7 yet and
- the highest monthly income of any member in the company was $10,138.14
All in all if you can get your head around the WakeUpNow compensation plan and know how to pitch business owners there might be a viable business opportunity here for you.
Make sure whoever you sign up with has a thorough understanding of the compensation plan and overall business though, because chances are you’re probably going to be relying heavily on them until you’re intimately familiar with the business yourself (moreso then usual).