Think+ Review: Michael Fallquist’s third utilities MLM opp
Think Energy fails to provide ownership or executive information on its website.
Think Energy’s website domain (“thinkenergy.plus”), was privately registered on November 18th, 2022.
Further research reveals Think Energy marketing material citing Michael Fallquist as founder and CEO of the company.
Why this information isn’t provided on Think+’s website is unclear.
BehindMLM first came across Fallquist (right) as founder of Viridian and Crius Energy.
Viridian was a utilities services MLM. Crius Energy was cited as a “strategic partner”. Whereas Fallquist ran Crius as CEO, Viridian Energy was headed up by CEO Paul Booth.
In 2015 Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory authority announced it was reviewing Viridian’s contracts, contract renewal, customer notification and enrollment procedures.
That same a year a consumer class-action was also filed against Viridian and Crius Energy in Maryland.
Viridian and Crius were accused of charging customers “four or five times the underlying market rate”.
Towards the end of 2017, Viridian announced it was abandoning its MLM operations by March 2018.
In March 2018 Viridian settled “deceptive marketing & sales tactics” allegations, brought forward by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, for $5 million.
In June 2018, Viridian settled the previously referenced consumer class-action for $18.5 million.
Following job cuts, Crius Energy was sold off to Vistra in early 2019.
In December 2020, Fallquist returned to the uiltilites MLM niche as CEO of Griddy Pro.
Griddy Pro targeted Texas consumers and promised savings through a variable rate. The catch was consumers had to keep track of the rate.
In February 2021 Griddy Pro began to fall apart, amidst claims of “unbelievable electricity bills“.
Later that same month the Electric Reliability Council of Texas ‘revoked Griddy’s rights to enter the state’s electricity market’.
Around the same time a proposed billion dollar class-action lawsuit was also filed against Griddy Pro.
Griddy Pro and parent company Griddy went on to declare bankruptcy a month later in March 2021.
Fallquist appears to have launched Think+ on or around December 2022.
Read on for a full review of Think+’s MLM opportunity.
Think+ is tied to Think Energy,
an energy retailer with the bright idea to make clean energy simple, easy and affordable for everyone.
Think Energy is a mass market focused energy retailer with licenses to operate in 13 states and the District of Columbia covering sixty-four electric and natural gas utilities.
Think Energy provides 100% clean electricity to its customers on long-term competitive fixed rates.
US states Think Energy operates in include Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington DC.
As with any MLM utility company, rates vary depending on suppliers and location within these states.
Quotes are available on Think Energy’s website once a postcode is entered.
Out of curiosity I punched in a few random postcodes from the areas Think Energy services.
After five or six “your area is not available” messages, I gave up.
Think+’s Compensation Plan
Think+’s compensation plan pays on referral of electricity customers. These customers can be retail customers or recruited affiliates.
Of note is Think+ offers a “Free Energy Club” program:
- customers who refer three friends receive a 10% discount on their rates
- customers who refer ten friends receive a 40% discount on their rates
- customers who refer twenty friends receive a 100% discount on their rates
The Free Energy Club affects various components of Think+’s compensation plan as follows:
- Customer Enrollment Bonuses are excluded
- Residual Personal Customer Commissions are reduced to 25%
- initial Generation Bonuses are excluded, monthly Generation Bonuses are paid at 25%
- initial Coded Bonuses are excluded, monthly Coded Bonuses are paid at 25%
- new customers contribute nothing towards Partner Pool Pay, monthly Partner Pool contributions are paid at 25%
Think+ Affiliate Ranks
There are eight affiliate ranks within Think+’s compensation plan.
Along with their respective qualification criteria, they are as follows:
- Regional Energy Advisor – personally refer five customers and have fifty referred customers across your downline
- Senior Energy Advisor – personally refer six customers and have two hundred and fifty customers across your downline
- Director – personally refer eight customers and have five hundred customers across your downline
- Regional Director – personally refer ten customers and have two thousand five hundred customers across your downline
- Senior Director – personally refer twelve customers and have five thousand customers across your downline
- Partner – personally refer sixteen customers and have ten thousand customers across your downline
- Regional Partner – personally refer twenty customers and have twenty-five thousand customers across your downline
- Senior Partner – personally refer twenty-four customers and have fifty thousand customers across your downline
Note that no more than 40% of required customers can be counted from any one unilevel team leg.
Customer Enrollment Bonuses
Think+ affiliates earn a bonus per customer they enrol for either an electricity or community solar plan.
- enrol an electricity customer and receive $20
- enrol a community solar customer and receive $60
Residual Personal Customer Commissions
Think+ affiliates earn a monthly residual commission on personally referred customers.
Residual customer commission rates are determined by the energy usage of referred customers:
- Electricity Band 1 (3600 to 20,000 kWh/yr) – $1 a month per customer referred
- Electricity Band 2 (20,001 to 40,000 kWh/yr) – $2 a month per customer referred
- Electricity Band 3 (40,001 or more kWh/yr) – $3 a month per customer referred
- Community Solar – $50 cents per customer referred
Residual Customer Commissions
Think+ affiliates earn residual commissions on customers enrolled across their entire downline.
Think+ pays residual customer commissions via a unilevel compensation structure.
A unilevel compensation structure places an affiliate at the top of a unilevel team, with every personally recruited affiliate placed directly under them (level 1):
If any level 1 affiliates recruit new affiliates, they are placed on level 2 of the original affiliate’s unilevel team.
If any level 2 affiliates recruit new affiliates, they are placed on level 3 and so on and so forth down a theoretical infinite number of levels.
Think+ caps payable unilevel team levels at ten:
- Regional Energy Advisors receive residual commissions down three unilevel team levels
- Senior Energy Advisors receive residual commissions down four unilevel team levels
- Directors receive residual commissions down five unilevel team levels
- Regional Directors receive residual commissions down six unilevel team levels
- Senior Directors receive residual commissions down seven unilevel team levels
- Partners receive residual commissions down eight unilevel team levels
- Regional Partners receive residual commissions down nine unilevel team levels
- Senior Partners receive residual commissions down ten unilevel team levels
Specific commission rates across the ten available unilevel levels are determined by electricity usage:
- Electricity Band 1 customers generate 20 cents on levels 1 to 4, 50 cents on levels 5 and 6, 75 cents on levels 7 and 8, $1 on level 9 and $1.50 on level 10
- Electricity Band 2 customers generate 40 cents on levels 1 to 4, $1 on levels 5 and 6, $1.50 on levels 7 and 8, $2 on level 9 and $3 on level 10
- Electricity Band 3 customers generate 80 cents on levels 1 to 4, $2 on levels 5 and 6, $3 on levels 7 and 8, $4 on level 9 and $6 on level 10
- Community Solar customers generate 10 cents on levels 1 to 4, 15 cents on levels 5 and 6, 25 cents on levels 7 and 8 and 50 cents on levels 9 and 10
Think+ affiliates earn a Generation Bonus, paid through the same unilevel team used to pay Residual Customer Commissions (see above).
Newly referred customers pay out via the Generation Bonus as follows:
- an electricity customer generates a $1 a month Generation Bonus
- a community solar customer generates a $3 a month Generation Bonus
After their first month, residual Generation Bonuses are calculated based on energy usage:
- Electricity Band 1 customers generate a 5 cent Generation Bonus
- Electricity Band 2 customers generate a 10 cent Generation Bonus
- Electricity Band 3 customers generate a 20 cent Generation Bonus
- Community Solar customers generate a 25 cent Generation Bonus
Think+ defines a generation in a unilevel team leg when an affiliate in the leg is found at the same or a higher rank.
Think+ pays the Generation Bonus on customers in each unilevel team leg, up until a same or higher ranked affiliate is found in that leg.
If a unilevel team leg doesn’t have a same or higher ranked affiliate in it, the Generation Bonus is earned down the full depth of the leg.
Director and higher Think+ affiliates earn a Coded Bonus on new customers referred by lesser ranked downline affiliates.
- electricity customers generate a $2 Coded Bonus on two generations
- community solar customers generate a $6 Coded Bonus on two generations
After the first month, the Coded Bonus is paid out based on customer electricity usage:
- Electricity Band 1 customers generate a 5 cent Coded Bonus for Directors and 10 cents for Regional Directors and higher, on two generations
- Electricity Band 2 customers generate a 10 cent Coded Bonus for Directors and 20 cents for Regional Directors and higher, on two generations
- Electricity Band 3 customers generate a 20 cent Coded Bonus for Directors and 40 cents for Regional Directors and higher, on two generations
- Community Solar customers generate a 2.5 cent Coded Bonus for Directors and 5 cents for Regional Directors and higher, on two generations
Think+’s compensation plan states downline affiliate positions are hard-coded when a Think+ affiliate signs up;
Each Energy Advisor will have up to 12 upline Energy Advisors Coded to them as there are two Coded positions for the Director, Regional Director, Senior Director, Partner, Regional Partner and Senior Partner Ranks.
On the day a new Energy Advisor joins Think+ Energy Advisor, up to 12 coded positions will be assigned to the qualifying upline and these Coded positions will never change.
The easiest way to get your head around the Coded Bonus is think of the bonus being paid upline across an additional five unilevel team levels.
E.g. someone in your downline refers an electricity customer. This generates you a $2 Coded Bonus. Five upline affiliates from you also receive a $2 Coded Bonus.
Community Solar pays out in the same manner but $6 per Coded Bonus referred customer.
A second generation Coded Bonus exists to continue paying out when a downline affiliate qualifies at Director or higher.
The second generation Coded Bonus pays out upline six levels, but to affiliates who’ve been cut off from a downline due to them ranking up.
Second generation Coded Bonuses are the same $2 and $6 rates as the first generation Coded Bonus.
Rank Achievement Bonus
Think+ rewards affiliates for qualify at Regional Energy Advisor and higher with the following one-time Rank Achievement Bonuses:
- Regional Energy Advisors receive $100 ($200 if qualified for within 30 days of signing up)
- Senior Energy Advisors receive $250 ($500 if qualified for within 60 days of signing up)
- Directors receive $500 ($1000 if qualified for within 90 days of signing up)
- Regional Directors receive $1000
- Senior Directors receive $2500
- Partners receive $10,000
- Regional Partners receive $20,000
- Senior Partners receive $50,000
Partner Pool Pay
The Partner Pool is funded monthly by fees paid by Think Energy customers.
For new customers;
- $2 from every electricity customer is put into the Partner Pool
- $6 from every community solar customer is put into the Partner Pool
After their first month, Partner Pool contributions are determined by electricity usage:
- 10 cents from every Electricity Band 1 customer is put into the Partner Pool
- 20 cents from every Electricity Band 2 customer is put into the Partner Pool
- 40 cents from every Electricity Band 3 customer is put into the Partner Pool
- 5 cents from every Community Solar customer is put into the Partner Pool
The Partner Pool is paid out monthly to Partner and higher ranked affiliates via shares:
- Partners receive one share in the Partner Pool
- Regional Partners receive two shares in the Partner Pool
- Senior Partners receive five shares in the Partner Pool
Think+ affiliate membership is $99 annually.
Whereas Griddy came undone due to a shonky business model, I think it’s Viridian’s “deceptive marketing & sales tactics” that need to be watched out for here.
I can’t help but feel Michael Fallquist has launched Think+ as power utilities rise, to capitalize on frustrated consumers.
Thankfully from what I can see on Think+ and Think Energy’s website, there’s nothing overtly deceptive. You punch in a postcode, you see your rates.
That’s how Think+is supposed to work, “not available” errors aside.
This feeds into Think+’s compensation plan, which simplifies commissions across three usage tiers plus community solar.
It should be noted that at time of publication, community solar is marked on Think Energy’s website as “coming soon”.
Traditionally utility MLM compensation plans are a nightmare to navigate through. This mostly comes down to utility rates across multiple providers.
Think+ avoids that but does a god awful job of presenting its compensation plan. Instead of presenting each component with an explanation, upfront and monthly rates, Think+ separates each.
So for the Partner Pool for instance, first you get a description of the bonus. Then you get the initial amount paid in. And finally the residual monthly contribution.
These are sandwiched between the equivalents for all of the other Think+ commissions and bonuses.
The end-result is having to scroll up and down to make sense of anything.
I managed to get through it as someone who’s generally familiar with MLM compensation plans. For your average prospect, this isn’t going to make any sense.
And in that sense, Think+ trips over itself in its own marketing.
The good news is this is easily remedied. Just reorganize how the commissions and bonuses are presented.
This might look like something I’m complaining about as a reviewer (“oh no, you’re making my job harder!”), but confusing compensation plan presentation does impact how Think+ is marketed to prospective affiliates.
One potential regulatory red flag is the potential for Think+ to operate as pyramid scheme.
Think+ doesn’t distinguish between retail customers and affiliate customers. Whereas this is usually a problem, in MLM utility companies it’s typically a non-issue as they’re pretty difficult to market as recruitment schemes.
Commissions are tied to actual energy usage, not the $99 annual fee.
Yes, if the majority of Think+ customers are affiliates it’s a pyramid scheme. But historically this hasn’t been an issue with utility-based MLM companies.
The last thing I’ll mention is Fallquist needing to own his past. I could be wrong but it’s likely Think+ doesn’t provide executive information is because of Fallquist’s past.
Those mistakes need to be owned, as an MLM company presenting itself as a faceless corporation isn’t a good look. There could also be disclosure issues with the FTC later down the track.
I wasn’t sure if Fallquist also earned Think Energy, but I was able to confirm through a December 2022 press-release.
Energywell, LLC (“Energywell”), an energy technology company powering the sustainable energy transition, announces the completion of its acquisition of ENGIE Retail, LLC d/b/a Think Energy (“Think Energy”) and the signing of a Preferred Supplier Agreement with ENGIE Energy Marketing North America, Inc. (“ENGIE Energy Marketing”).
Fallquist is cited as the Director and co-CEO of Energywell.
As a prospective Think+ affiliate, you probably want to make sure entering in your postcode and running a rate comparison is straightforward.
There are only three usage brackets, plus community solar. Determining whether Think Energy is competitive shouldn’t be difficult.
This is important as it’s going to be your primary marketing tool in referring new customers.
Hopefully the savings are there. And watch out for anything that feels deceptive – this would be an immediate red flag given Fallquist’s past.