[dropcap size=small]E[/dropcap]ntrepreneurs like Andrew Wessels are always on the lookout for new ideas. After selling off a telecommunications business he started eight years ago, Wessels was looking for inspiration by trying to see what other successful people were up to these days. His internet search yielded nothing and everything.

After realising that 21 different websites couldn’t accurately tell him where former Marks and Spencer chief executive Stuart Rose was, Wessels had the idea of managing profiles for successful people, and The Marque was born.

With an annual fee of £1,000 ($1,770), members of The Marque have access to a relationship manager, a relatively tight circle of highly successful individuals, investment opportunities and exclusive networking events.

Recently in town to promote the network in Singapore, The Peak sits him down for a chat.

So just how successful do your members have to be?

Every person on our network either owns or runs the business they’re involved in, and the businesses have to be quite large. Think chairman of the Bank of America, CEO of Deploit Group, vice president of Lazard.

When considering who to recommend, we tell our members to ask themselves if the person will benefit from being on The Marque. Richard Branson, for example, will not benefit. I had a beer with him once and he was surprised that I wasn’t trying to get him to sign on with us. Because I agreed that he doesn’t need The Marque. He’s so big a name he probably has dozens of people maintaining his public profile.


What’s your definition of success?

It’s difficult to define because my vision of it will be different from yours. But where we got to was that if you’ve reached the pinnacle of your field, whether’s it’s finance or arts or sports or humanitarian efforts, we would love to have you. The Marque is a diverse platform and it’s not just full of 60-year-old men. If you’re 22 and successful, welcome.

Any memorable connections you helped facilitate?

We once hosted a dinner in London with two US senators and 14 of our members for a pre-election discussion. It was just fascinating, though it got quite heated after a while.

We also have a member who just retired from Goldman Sachs and his passion is educational gaming, which I didn’t know anything about. Then I had breakfast with another member the following week who sits on the House of Lords who was telling me about an exciting new educational gaming project he was working on! I said hold on, I’ll put you two in touch. It’s amazing how we have the queen’s advisor on African politics and a Goldman Sachs partner totally excited to meet each other.

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Will Microsoft’s recent acquisition of LinkedIn affect your business?

LinkedIn already has 433 million users and the acquisition will increase that number significantly, which means even more people trying to sell you irrelevant things. I was on Bloomberg Live recently and every time I come off TV I get 40 LinkedIn requests from people I’ve neither heard of before nor want to hear from. One of them was from a guy who runs a car wash in Dallas. I’m sure he’s very good at his job but I don’t live in Dallas and my car in London doesn’t really get washed that often. So the acquisition is huge for us because it just shows that there isn’t a network for members like ours.