They are expensive if you want them to do things other than what they want to do. Academics often consult, and they are not cheap.
I know Scott Aaronson sometimes communicates with this community. I have seen him at a meetup in Boston once. He’s a world class researcher.
Let’s just call a spade a spade—what is hard is finding good people willing to do the intellectual work you want them to do for the meager price you are willing to pay. What you are doing is equivalent to folks advertising 15 dollar an hour programming jobs on college campuses and then wondering, after they find somebody, why the resulting code is terrible.