- Quintessentially cofounder Luca Del Bono’s new platform ONDA gives members access to private clubs and coworking spaces around the world.
- It costs $US120 (£90) a month, or $US94 a month if you’re under 30.
- However, the priority for Del Bono – and for ONDA’s members – has nothing to do with the clubs.
- Instead, the focus of ONDA is sharing experiences and possessions, and contributing to the community.
Quintessentially cofounder Luca Del Bono’s new app and online platform ONDA gives members access to hundreds of private members’ clubs, co-working spaces, and stunning properties around the world – but that’s not why they’re joining.
Originally launched in March 2018 and officially launched into the Apple store last week, becoming a member of ONDA costs $US120 (£90) a month, or $US94 a month if you’re under 30, on a monthly or annual basis.
If accepted, members are offered six visits a year to each of the private members’ clubs on the platform (like London’s Groucho Club, The XX Lounge on New York, or NeueHouse in LA) and three visits to each co-working space and health club.
They also have the opportunity to sign up for events like paddle boarding in Malibu with surf legend Laird Hamilton, a guided meditation in London with actress Goldie Hawn, or yoga classes, dinners, lectures, and gallery visits, held in cities like Paris, New York, and Singapore.
Years of experience launching and managing private members’ clubs around the world led Del Bono, who was born in Italy but grew up in London, to the concept.
In 2000, Del Bono co-founded global private concierge club Quintessentially with Aaron Simpson, a company that has called itself a “wish-fulfilment empire.”
He then went on to develop physical clubs, including the South Kensington Club which was voted the 2017 Members Club of the Year, before he decided to make the move to the US.
“I went to New York and there was so much happening there, but I wanted to be by the ocean,” he told Business Insider when we caught up with him in August, ahead of ONDA’s app launch.
He tried Miami, which was “too fashionable” for him, before settling in LA.
“It’s such an interesting location… in terms of conscious living, people connecting with nature, wanting to give,” he said.
He had plans to open another physical club, but a friend who had convinced him to get into the private members’ club world in the first place pointed out that there were already too many out there.
According to Del Bono, London alone currently has over 1,000 members’ clubs and co-working space under development.
“There’s not just a surge but an oversupply,” he said. “The same goes for New York… Every other tech guy wants to have his own members’ club.”
However, he said that the surge shows that people want to connect and “be in an environment where they feel protected, which they can use as a base camp for whatever it might be.”
With ONDA, which means “wave,” he was inspired to give people “the opportunity of being able to travel the world, connect with people that are like-minded and they can share something with, and then enjoy whatever their interest/passion is.”
Contributing to the ONDA community
ONDA vets and connects its members – or “patrons,” as they’re called – as well as all places and experiences available through the app and website.
“Nowadays people have lost trust in so many platforms out there,” Del Bono said. “What you read on TripAdvisor, you don’t know what to believe any more. When you feel like you can trust the people, money can’t buy that.”
When people submit an application, they also have to answer why they want to join, rating a number of different factors – like access to clubs, travel and discover, involvement in sustainability programmes, or being part of a trusted community – from one to five.
“Funnily enough, access to the clubs is not the driving reason,” Del Bono said. “What they really want is to be part of a trusted community – that’s the prime reason people do it. They’re looking for a sense of belonging.”
ONDA considers this during the review process, which involves an interview or inviting someone along to an event.
It also has a “no a–hole policy,” according to Del Bono. “You can have all the money in the world, but you ain’t getting in,” he said.
Another major part of the platform is sharing, so part of the application process is talking about what people can contribute to the community if they’re accepted.
“When we do the interview, you have a deed to contribute something… We ask you to share that with fellow patrons within six months of joining,” he said.
“One tech guy wants to do yoga/meditation sessions, another guy wants to do a book club. It’s about having the right intentions – you can tell if people are there for their own reasons.”
The company also has plans to launch “ONDA Exchange,” where people can add possessions they’re willing to share or lend – such as a handbag, watch, home, car, or boat – “knowing it’s not some freak, but it’s a value-based platform,” he said.
For example, Del Bono said: “If I’m going to New York tomorrow, and I don’t have my tuxedo, but I don’t want to go to a second hand store, I might be able to rent it from another patron. The patron gets $US200, but it probably cost him $US2,000 to have the tuxedo made and he uses it once every couple of years, so he starts generating a yield on the tuxedo.”
By the end of the year, he said the company also plans to introduce a “merits” programme, where the more you contribute to the community, the more “points” you’ll earn.
These merits will allow members to stay in properties from the network all over the world.
“It’s incredible if you give people a private space how much more they’re willing to share,” Del Bono said. “What ONDA does is broaden the horizon of what opportunities are out there, even if you don’t have the financial means to do it.”
Choosing the right clubs
The clubs on the app are currently located in 32 cities across 20 countries and six continents.
On the app, members can browse the clubs from drop-downs…
…Or via a map view.
They can then make reservations for a certain day and time.
From Toronto’s East Room to The Clubhouse in Buenos Aires (pictured above) or Ulu Cliffhouse in Bali, Del Bono added that every club is vetted in the same way as the people are.
“I’m not interested in anything pretentious or osentatious,” he said. “The places are relaxed, creative, where you can put your feet up and do whatever you like without rules or ‘you have to come in a jacket and tie, you can’t use your mobile phone, you can’t use your laptop.’ We’re in the 21st century. That’s the attitude we have.”
He added that once you’ve exhausted your six visits in each place, some clubs are also happy for ONDA members to pay as they go, or join as official members without paying a joining fee.
“The clubs don’t pay, we don’t pay the clubs, it’s purely based on trust,” Del Bono said, adding: “Many platforms out there have been trying to get access to these places, and they just can’t. They offer them hundreds of thousands, but the answer is no.
“I’m a membership specialist, that’s what I’ve been for 20 years. The relationships I’ve built over the years, I’ve had my own clubs, they know I’m not going to mess with their reputation. I respect these people and they’re happy to welcome interesting, inspiring people who have something to share and contribute.”
Investment from ‘captains of industry’
While Del Bono said he funded the business himself initially, he said in August that ONDA had recently secured $US10 million in seed investment from eight influential investors who he called “captains of industry,” including Equinox clubs founder Lavinia Errico, Stateside founder Moise Emquies, and cofounder of Westfield Corporation Peter Lowy.
It also has an advisory board featuring the likes of environmentalist, Hollywood star, and UN ambassador Adrian Grenier, and cofounder of Lastminute.com Brent Hoberman.
“These are people who are self-made, which is a proof of our model,” he said. “It’s a healthy financial model – it’s a subscription business at the end of the day.”
Del Bono said ONDA currently has around 500 patrons, with small operations in London, New York, and LA, where it has its headquarters.
Its next steps are to build on the app to allow patrons to book experiences and events as well as clubs, connect with one another through a messaging feature, and read a journal of blog posts – of all which they can already do on the ONDA website, which shows the profile of every user.
“It’s not just access to places but access to people,” he said. “It’s mitigating the online and offline. So many people these days meet each other online, but don’t get to meet.”
ONDA also plans to partner with charities and support non-profit projects of its members, providing them with funding – something Del Bono himself has always been passionate about through work with organisations like Slow Food and The Prince’s Trust, and as cofounder of the Aeolian Islands Preservation Fund alongside environmentalist Ben Goldsmith.
He also has plans to launch the ONDA Fund, which a part of its proceeds will go to once the company “breaks even.”
“It will be quite a substantial fund,” Del Bono told Business Insider. “I’m looking to get it to $US10 million in five years.”
As for Del Bono himself, he has simplified his life in order to make all of this happen.
“For the first time in my life, I’ve resigned from everything, even the South Kensington Club,” he told Business Insider. “I gave up my apartment, my possessions, and had a reset.”
He splits his time between LA, New York, and London, staying at friends’ houses or the houses of ONDA patrons.
“People are happy to share and give, they suddenly realise that there’s more into giving than taking in life,” he said.
“I’m feeling free. It’s a good feeling.”
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