Brian, when did you start Opportunity Network?
I started Opportunity Network in 2014 while studying an MBA at Columbia Business School.
Were the first steps difficult? Can you tell us how you built ON step by step?
Opportunity Network started as a simple newsletter that I circulated on a monthly basis to members of the Family Business Club at Columbia Business School while studying for my MBA. I decided to create the newsletter to help my father expand our family business in Milan. He had always refused to create a sales or marketing team and was relying on his personal network for work. While very successful, this approach never really allowed him to scale. The newsletter wasn’t very sophisticated. People would send me a three-line email about an interesting business proposition. I circulated it in a monthly email to the people in the club who knew and trusted each other. Soon, I found myself with almost a billion dollars worth of aggregate opportunities blowing through my business school email, and when I saw people making $10 and $20 million deals, I realized we had something. We decided to start aggregating Family Business Clubs members globally: Harvard, London Business School and 15 more, and from there we started signing partnership agreements with banks and other CEO organizations. Opportunity Network was born.
How many collaborators does the team consist of?
We’re just above 100 people, and it’s a truly international company. Our people hold 42 different passports and our management team has spans across every continent: US, Mexico, Brazil Ireland, Italy, South Africa, Azerbaijan and Taiwan.
How are the entrepreneurs who want to be part of ON selected?
Opportunity Network has two membership tiers:
1. LITE: for decision-makers at companies with over $250k in annual revenue or liquid assets
2. Premier: for decision-makers at companies with over $2.5M in annual revenue or liquid assets.
Our members either come through our paid media advertising efforts, our partnerships with renowned financial institutions such as Citizens Bank, Credit Suisse, Intesa Sanpaolo, and Caixabank, or referrals from our existing members. Every member is vetted and verified by the mentioned partners to ensure they meet the eligibility requirements prior to joining the network.
How is the ON network composed?
Opportunity Network is a truly global network. We currently have over 52,000 members and a total deal flow of over $530Bn spread across over 100 different industries and 130+ different countries. Members come from a variety of industries, from niche industries like Renewable Technology to larger industries such as Healthcare, Real Estate, and Consumer Goods.
Opportunities available in the network range from the following:
- Raising/Investing capital
- M&A transactions
- Buying/selling products & services
- Real estate deals
Members can filter opportunities by deal type, deal value, industry, geographical region, and headquarter location.
Our members have an aggregate $7 Trillion in revenues, which would make us the third country by GDP after US and China and before Japan and Germany.
From 2014 to 2022, how many things have changed?
Plenty. Definitely more than I can count. Here some of the highlights:
- The network has scaled from 0 members to over 52,000 in 130+ countries and 100+ industries
- We went from securing our first two partnerships with Boston Consulting Group and Accenture in 2015 to now having over 90 partnerships with renowned financial institutions/organisations such as Citizens Bank, CaixaBank, Nedbank, Intesa Sanpaolo, Banco Bci, BBVA, Credit Suisse, ABN Amro, etc.
- We moved from New York to London, and then to Barcelona
- The team has grown to over 100 employees consisting of more than 40 different nationalities
- In 2020, the pandemic saw more than 10,000 new companies join Opportunity Network, and our levels of activity skyrocketed with a 70% increase in conversations among members and a 60% increase in the number of new business opportunities posted
- In 2021, a new user experience was released for the product, providing tailored recommendations to members and increasing the efficiency of using the platform
- In 2022, we launched the video and call scheduling feature on the network and continue to make significant improvements to our product and user experience
How many business opportunities have come to fruition thus far? Can you tell us some?
So far, we’ve facilitated over 110,000 connections worldwide and have helped our members generate significant business. Our members’ privacy is a top priority for us and so we don’t have access to any information about the deals that are made unless our members let us know themselves. Despite this, lots of members have come to us telling us stories of how Opportunity Network was the catalyst for growth in their companies; some closing deals that they were initially looking for and others finding unexpected value elsewhere. Below are just a few:
- Camilo Salomon (US-based), Chairman of Global Impact Assets, LLC closed a $200M deal to finance a management buyout in no more than 90-120 days – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvW9sjK7eG0
- John Wilson (UK-based), Partner at Energy Growth Momentum made a $10.5 million investment in H2Scan, a company providing hydrogen leak detection and process gas monitoring solutions for industrial markets – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCcvDfAEPms
- Tomás Charme (Chile-based), CEO of Wabo, and Jan René Fricke (Germany-based), CEO & Founder of Caffezza, connected via ON during the pandemic and closed a 5-year partnership through which Wabo would be distributing Caffezza’s energy drink in Chile –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klr_qNq6OmE
What are the future objectives of ON?
We’ve been running this company for 8 years now and have moved from 0 members to 52,000 CEOs using our platform to do business with one another, and a $530 billion deal flow. We’re here working hard to add the next 2 zeros to our track record. We hope to grow to become the one place where every reliable CEO can get equal access to business opportunities.
One last question but not least: what is Brian Pallas’ human and entrepreneurial vision?
My degree is in Economics, where I got to learn how economic development leads to improving lives concretely. By enabling reliable CEOs to get equal access to business opportunities, enable companies to expand and create jobs. Alibaba created 30M jobs within 20 years doing wholesale transactions ($1k-$50k) from China to the world – How many jobs can we create facilitating enterprise sales transactions ($50k-$500M) on a global level?
Additionally, as being members of Opportunity Network will become a seal of quality for CEOs, it won’t matter anymore if a CEO comes from Germany or from Zimbabwe – they all going to be members of Opportunity Network and emerging markets’ CEOS will be at much less of a disadvantage.
We believe that Opportunity Network will grow to become a strong pillar in global economic development and create more of a plain level field for CEOs globally