Step forward Miljonet, an innovative digital venture that was set up for that very purpose. We sat down with co-founder Ramon Luitwieler to find out more about its approach to a truly modern form of networking.
Superyachts.com: Can you give us a brief background to the company – when it was founded, the people behind it, and their vision?
Ramon Luitwieler: Miljonet was founded in The Netherlands in 2012 by myself and Raoul van de Haar. We are a members-only community website for high net-worth individuals, offering relevant contacts and information and a variety of features tailored to the millionaire lifestyle. Every member is checked on ID-data and net-worth in order to provide a secure environment.
The Miljonet Social Club fulfils certain needs for HNWI’s, like expanding their international network, buying and selling luxury goods and properties, finding tips on special events and trips, and valuable information on subjects that are relevant to their lifestyle. They can openly share their interests and lifestyle with their peers.
SY: What is the pricing structure for members?
RL: Joining the Miljonet Social Club is free of charge. Members can use the many features and interact with other members without having to pay for anything.
There is also the Miljonet Business Club, a networking opportunity for companies in the luxury industry like art galleries, luxury brokers, bespoke manufactures, luxury resorts, etc. Additionally the Miljonet Business Club provides tools and means to present products and services to the Social Club members. For this additional service they have to pay a fee.
Miljonet also has a special team of online marketing experts that can help luxury companies with their online branding strategy.
SY: What is the vetting process for members?
RL: All members have to complete the Miljonet Validation Process that uses a variety of checks to ensure that all members are using their real identity and fit the membership requirements. Some members are reluctant to share this personal information at first, but most understand the necessity in order to create a safe and homogenous environment.
SY: Is your networking community online only or do you organise ‘real life’ events?
RL: At the moment we are focussing on our online presence, but in the future we plan to co-host ‘real life’ events in co-operation with our business club members.
SY: Are there any particular industry sectors you’re keen to tap into that you haven’t so far?
RL: Miljonet features a Trademarket, an E-bay like trading platform where members have the opportunity to offer products and services. Although several of our Business Club members are already using the opportunity to offer yachts, we welcome any manufacturer or broker to join Miljonet and offer their products and services.
SY: Can you provide any case studies or examples of big deals or relationships that have been brokered between Miljonet members?
RL: Because of the confidential nature of Miljonet, we cannot disclose this kind of information. But we see a lot extraordinary offers in our Trademarket ranging from multi-million dollar castles to trips into outer space. If you are looking to find or to present unique and exclusive offers, Miljonet is the best place for it.
SY: Are there any existing companies or business models that have influenced Miljonet?
RL: It all started with our previous company that was specialized in bringing people and businesses together as an offline sales and marketing company. The development of new technology inspired us to do the same online and thus we started Miljonet.
SY: How do you think business between high net-worth individuals has evolved over the years, in terms of how it is conducted?
RL: The barriers for connecting nowadays are much lower than they used to be, so the problem is not so much connecting with people, but connecting with the right people. HNWI’s don’t want to connect with fortune hunters or time wasters so they have to choose their networks with care.
Technology has become an important part of the lives of the HNWIs. From selling real estate to arranging a private jet, it’s all done online. For example, research shows that 72% of all art collectors have bought art online. So from networking to buying and selling, it is all done online, and the HNWIs are blazing the trail. Did you know that HNWIs spend 20% more time on social media than average individuals?
SY: And how do you think the relationship between luxury brands and their clients has changed?
RL: The luxury industry has been trailing the market when it comes to incorporating technological development like e-commerce and social media, for fear of damaging brand exclusivity. However luxury e-commerce is projected to triple to $75 billion by 2025, with online taking an 18% share of total luxury sales. Partnerships with high-end social networks like Miljonet is a viable option for luxury brands to gently grow a luxury brand’s web presence while maintaining their exclusivity.
Online is very much where the next generation of HNWIs seek out and evaluate what’s new and next. The luxury industry is now stepping into the 21st century.
SY: Finally, what does the future hold for Miljonet - how can the company grow?
RL: Our vision is to create a platform where our members can do most things they already do online but in a safe and secure environment. We will soon open Miljonet Luxury Plaza, a unique way of social shopping on the highest level. After that we have many other unique and exclusive features in the making. The luxury market is growing, the number of HNWIs is growing, and Miljonet will continue to grow.