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How To Get Accepted Into Any Private Members Business Club

Wealth alone may not guarantee membership of these exclusive business clubs.

Madison Rooms

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.

The club, founded by 30-something entrepreneurs Raj Datwani and Alex Chew, has welcomed members from a diverse range of industries, including finance, law, arts, fashion, tech and free enterprises. Datwani says: “Our first 100 members features some of Singapore’s top talent — men and women from business and traditional professions. We focus on a distinct clientele built from within and subscribe to purposeful exclusivity. Currently, there is a waiting list to join.” Madison Rooms accepts only 50 members per month until it reaches its cap of 400. Its committee carefully sifts applicants to ensure a variety of business backgrounds, and an equal mix of men and women, with a current male-to-female ratio of 65-35. The idea is to create a colony of like-minded professionals by inviting them into a relaxed facility for the purpose of productivity and play. So while members have a drink in the cocktail bar or enjoy a meal designed by chef Ivan Brehm of Michelin-starred restaurant Bacchanalia (also set up by Datwani and Chew), they can bond with new people and develop fresh ideas.

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.

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