Wealth alone may not guarantee membership of these exclusive business clubs.
Knock and a door will be opened to you. However, most private members’ clubs do not subscribe to this principle. If you have to ask, you may never be invited in.
Commanding high prestige and high fees, professional associations such as the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) and Soho House have constructed elaborate roads to membership. Nominations and referrals by existing members are given precedence, while some clubs conduct vigorous preliminary interviews to screen candidates.
Soho House, with clubs in Europe and North America, accepts only those in the arts and media industry, having repeatedly turned down celebrities such as Kim Kardashian. Its clubs have a no-photos rule, which of course means no selfies — adding to the sense of confidentiality.
Madison Rooms, a newly launched members-only business club in Singapore, is also camera shy. Only a few select photos have been released to ensure members’ privacy. There is also a no-mobile-phones policy. The space, located in the former Masonic Hall on Coleman Street, provides secluded areas branded ‘The Sessionals’ for confidential calls if needed.
Another membership communal space called Collision 8 takes business networking further through its customised matchmaking service. Set across the eighth floor of High Street Centre on North Bridge Road, the co-working space started by Michelle Yong, fourth-generation leader at construction conglomerate Woh Hup, has a spectacular full-frontal view of Marina Bay Sands.
Serial entrepreneur and co-founder John Tan says: “Collision 8 selects members based on two criteria: their interest to innovate and collaborate. We believe in the power of collision to trigger new ideas. With member curations and personalised introduction programmes, we can make some of that collision happen.”
Catering to start-ups, corporates, institutions and investors, the initial momentum for mingling between different tiered members is from community manager Ayla Kremb. “Let’s face it, people are shy,” says Kremb. “Even the most successful or wealthy individuals aren’t always comfortable with bringing people together. Or they simply don’t have time to filter through their contacts. That’s where I come in. I help link them to the right person for their business needs.”
YPO works from a similar concept: the global network of young chief executives provides specialised and interactive platforms designed to support growth in business, community and personal leadership. To qualify for membership at YPO, you must be below 45 years old and hold a top position, such as president, chairman, or managing director, of a qualifying company or division with a minimum gross revenue. That’s not the case for Collision 8, which doesn’t want to set limitations based on revenue.