New business network for successful people only

An online business network for entrepreneurs, top executives and thought leaders was launched in Hong Kong and Singapore last month.

The Marque can be thought of as a social network for successful people, with their profiles maintained and updated by a team of relationship managers, said founder Andrew Wessels.

The "success-based" recommendation-only network has attracted several hundred members globally since its launch in London and New York last year.

Mr Wessels told The Straits Times in a recent interview that he hopes Hong Kong and Singapore will add at least 500 new members each. "There is the public profile which is available to the general public, and behind that sits the private network where only members can interact... The goal is to become the definitive source of online information for successful people on the Web," he said.

It costs £1,000 (S$1,750) a year to join the networking platform, dubbed by Forbes as "the LinkedIn for the world's most successful people".

Among its members are Ms Su-Mei Thompson, chief executive of The Women's Foundation, Mr Dominic Murphy, head of Britain and Ireland at private equity firm KKR, Ms Nadja Swarovski, executive board member at Swarovski, and Mr Alexander Gilkes, co-founder of online auction house Paddle8.

Mr Wessels said the firm does not share members' contact details, nor does it sell any advertising on its platform.

About 40 per cent of its members are from the financial services sector, and 20 per cent to 30 per cent are women.

"What's important for us is breadth and diversity on the platform... If you have achieved the pinnacle of success in your chosen career, then you are welcome to The Marque. It is not just a finance network."

He said 25 verticals - or sectors - have been identified. They include sports, media, the arts, law, property and medicine.

The aim is to hit 1,000 members by the end of the year. Mr Wessels plans to open an office in Hong Kong soon and maybe one in Singapore, as the network grows. How much and how fast it grows will be driven by its members.

"When we go into a city, we select between 30 and 50 individuals through our existing network whom we ask to become founding members of The Marque and they, in turn, will recommend people," Mr Wessels said. His team then evaluates the potential members' credentials to maintain "quality" on the network.

A typical member would be a C-suite executive, managing partner, board member or an equity owner of a business.

Despite the strict induction process, Mr Wessels said The Marque is not an exclusive club for the wealthy. "This is not about rich people. We are not interested in people who inherited $100 million and do nothing with their lives."

Members will have access to private events aimed at building business relationships, as well as a deal board feature on the network where members can seek investments for deals they are personally invested in.

Mr Wessels said there are many ideas, including a potential feature that lets members rent out their holiday homes to others on the network.

This article was first published on Jul 07, 2016.
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