Interview with Marcel Knobil, Founder of VeryFirstTo

By Paul Joseph

In recent years the “Experience Economy” has been challenged by the “Sharing Economy”, but at the very top end of the market there is still a huge demand for unique products and activities.

Capitalising on this enduring demand for exclusivity is VeryFirstTo, a UK-based start-up company that specialises in sourcing and offering extremely sought-after luxury items and experiences.

Amongst their most extravagant packages is the mouth-watering opportunity for one couple to visit every 3-michelin starred restaurant in the world over the course of 6 months. And if that’s not enough to pique your interest, we caught up with VeryFirstTo founder Marcel Knobil to find out more.

Superyachts: Can you start by giving us a little background to the company and the services you provide?
Marcel Knobil: VeryFirstTo is the world's only site that enables individuals to be the first to know about, and have, newly launching luxury products and experiences. it showcases the most desirable newly releasing items within: fashion; technology; home; leisure; health & beauty; and beyond; as well as the latest must attend venues and events. Members gain access to exclusive products and special pre-opening events.

Brands featured include: Alexander McQueen; Apple; Bose; Paul Smith; Eve Lom; Gucci; Tom Dixon; etc. In order to remain faithful to our 'only newly launching' DNA, no item remains on the site beyond 59 days from release.

SY: How does Gold Membership work?
MK: Gold members pay £50 per year. Both the site they visit and the newsletters and eMagazine they receive are 24 hrs ahead of what other members see. This provides them with the opportunity to buy and book items ahead of everyone else. There are also certain items that are exclusive to Gold Members, who in addition receive complimentary invitations to openings of various venues and events.

SY: In terms of the bespoke ‘experiences’ you offer, what is the process for creating them? Is it brainstorming sessions round a table?
MK: We tend to address different sectors such as travel, food, romance, driving etc and brainstorm what would be the most aspirational experience one could possibly dream of having.

This has resulted in us partnering with sector leaders to offer experiences including: The Most Delicious Holiday of All Time - Every 3 Star Michelin Restaurant in 6 Months; The Most Glamorous Bet on Earth - A Month Playing in The World's 12 Finest Casinos & Betting Daily Online With InterCasino; and Wake-up With Your Loved One Amongst Over A Million Fresh Rose Petals

SY: What has been the most extravagant/outlandish purchase someone has made so far?
MK: The Ultimate Holiday - Visiting Every World Heritage Site (962) in Two Years (£990,000 per couple).

SY: How would you describe your clientele? Is there a typical person?
MK: The overriding characteristic is that they are early adopters of luxury. They are passionate about being the first to know, have, and do luxury.

Research indicates that they are invariably price insensitive, and often proselytise about what they have purchased or done.

SY: People have talked in recent years about the 'Experience Economy' and now increasingly the 'Sharing Economy' – what do you think the next phase will be in the world of luxury and how will VeryFirstTo adapt to meet these new demands?
MK: Luxury consumers appear, more and more, to be demanding individuality. It is increasingly becoming inadequate to purchase 'off-the-shelf'. Both products and experiences need to be bespoke. And in addition, luxury consumers are becoming braver: willing to lead rather than follow.

VeryFirstTo is obviously extremely well placed to satisfy the latter, and we are constantly working with companies to enable our consumers to have tailored experiences and products.

SY: What plans for growth are there at VeryFirstTo?
MK: In nine months we have already secured over 30,000 registered members, and at any one time will have at least 200 desirable newly launching items on from a minimum of 100 top luxury brands.

Over time we intend to increase the choice of products and experiences even more, to secure even more exclusives and to enhance the international flavour of the site.

SY: Finally, what is your own personal favourite VeryFirstTo offer?
MK: Intelligence on newly launching luxury that you can't find anywhere else! It's my favourite because I know how hard the team works - constantly tapping all our contacts and sources to deliver this precious stream of information.

From an experience perspective it's 'The Most Spectacular Luxury Dog Holiday - At The Paw Seasons Dog Hotel' for amusement value; and from a product perspective it has to be the Z.Boat by Zaha Hadid.

By Paul Joseph