Billy McFarland wants to help you build the perfect network.
At just 23 years old, he’s the founder of Magnises, an exclusive social club with special events and deals you can only access with their black card.
The black card can be linked with your bank or credit card for payment purposes, but its main draw is definitely the perks that come along with it.
By flashing your Magnises card — made of metal, it’s heavier than you might expect — you can get discounts at restaurants, bars, or clubs and reserve experiences like private concerts and luxurious getaways.
“We’re building a complete platform that connects millennials with new businesses, online and offline. One thing that everyone carries with them at all times is their debit or credit card,” McFarland told Business Insider. “So we tied it to that.”
Restaurants La Esquina and Catch, clubs Finale and Goldbar, and spin studio Cyc are just a few of the New York City businesses who have signed on to partner with Magnises. Members can also get discounts on helicopter trips to the Hamptons with Blade and attend private shows by rappers Rick Ross and Ja Rule. The latter also happens to be working on strategy with the startup.
Founded just over a year ago, Magnises now has more than 6,000 members paying $US250 annually to carry the black card. A mobile app tied to Magnises membership helps you pick out an activity and get instant access to the deals.
The target demographic, McFarland says, is working professionals between 21 and 35 years old, most of whom work in industries like finance, fashion, and tech. Prospective members must fill out an online application and be approved by the Magnises team before they can officially join.
“Ultimately we want someone who wants to be really engaged,” McFarland said.
It definitely helps your case to work for a company that Magnises would want to work out a partnership deal with. McFarland — who dropped out of Bucknell during his freshman year to start an enterprise company called Spling — wants Magnises to be the professional and social bridge between people who work in completely different fields.
A member who works for Tesla, for example, recently arranged for 40 Magnises cardholders to take a trip to a New Jersey race track to take some of their employers’ cars for a spin. Another member helped coordinate a booze cruise in the New York Harbour.
“We really want to incorporate these businesses into the Magnises experience, so we look for members who can give back,” McFarland said. “But we’re really selective about the brands we choose to parnter with. We want to build a brand that our members trust.”
The startup recently moved its home base from a West Village townhouse to a penthouse at the Hotel on Rivington on the Lower East Side. Magnises hosts lots of their events here, from late-night DJ sets to more laidback cocktail hours. Members can even use the space to work or hold meetings during the day if they so choose.
And since they’re now based in the hotel, Magnises can provide catering and open bar services to guests, and permitting isn’t an issue.
McFarland says that up to 200 people may show up to the penthouse any given night.
It’s a good thing that the Hotel on Rivington is onboard with that many people heading up to the penthouse for Magnises parties. The startup made headlines earlier this summer when the landlord of Magnises’ original party pad — the townouse in the West Village — sued McFarland, alleging that he caused $US62,000 worth of damages to the space.
“We outgrew the space,” McFarland says with a shrug when asked about the suit.
They plan to launch in 10 more cities in the next 12 months, starting with Washington D.C., where they’re announcing a partnership with the Embassy Row Hotel.
Magnises has raised nearly $US3 million in funding to date. McFarland says the company is generating enough revenue in membership fees, so they’re not looking to raise more anytime soon.
“The model is really clear to us now,” he said. “We’re ready to expand to other cities and start offering the same benefits to millennials there.”
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