The country club, long a venue for the wealthy to socialize over golf and fine spirits, is going digital.
Netropolitan.club, an online country club that costs $9,000 to join, went live Tuesday, the brainchild of former Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra conductor, James Touchi-Peters. Touchi-Peters said the idea emerged whenever he’d find himself out of town and not feeling like he could talk to someone with his interests.
“It’s not a tangible club, but on the other hand people are used to online environments now,” Touchi-Peters said. “The online world has matured to the point where people will accept this. I don’t think that was true three or four years ago.”
The service — which bills itself as “the country club for people with more money than time” — appears to blend elements of Facebook and Twitter: members can follow one another, carry on conversations both public and private, and post advertisements in a classified section. Though it’s live now online, it will be a few weeks before Netropolitan.club’s mobile apps are ready.
Where it deviates wildly from most all social networks is its fee: the $9,000 required to join includes a $6,000 entry fee plus a $3,000 annual charge. All in an effort to both vet members while making it possible for the site to be ad free, Touchi-Peters said.
Still, why not just create a Facebook group or seek like-minded peers on a free message board?
“We went to enormous lengths to make this data secure. That might be worth that fee; a lot of people are tired of having their data sold and being advertised to the hilt,” Touchi-Peters said.
Communication on Netropolitan.club will be encrypted and not indexed for search engines, Touchi-Peters. He said he’s been asked how he could keep an upstart site secure when institutions like Chase Bank have trouble protecting their websites.
Also kept close to the vest will be how many members Netropolitan.club has, their identities, and the size of the company, which will be headquartered out of Minneapolis. Because the concept is novel, Touchi-Peters said, the company isn’t quite sure what potential value it has. He said interest is high early, but he’s invested in making sure Netropolitan.club doesn’t go the way of the many—far less high-end—social networking upstarts that don’t make it.
“Most online communities fall apart at some point because of the natural weight of the people who misbehave,” Touchi-Peters said. “We’re a private community, so we should be able to avoid those problems.”
This article is reprinted in partnership with Twin Cities Business.