The Mussel Club, a company hosted by EU|BIC North East BIC, is a free-to-join membership organisation providing exciting, motivating and social networking events to help businesses create long lasting working relationships. Established in 2006 as a business-to-business networking organisation, The Mussel Club has over 10,000 members now, and continues growing every day with the advent of new events and partnerships.
Being successful at networking and creating meaningful business relationships is increasingly important nowadays, both during job search and identifying business opportunities. This trend has been reflected in the media and technology, with social platforms and mobile applications such as LinkedIn and networking conference apps emerging.
However, although the technology has facilitated digital access to our professional ecosystem, and “connecting” with our potential business partners, there are not many opportunities for people to meet face-to-face and discuss potential joint ventures in a relaxed manner, i.e. over a cup of coffee during breakfast.
The non-physical side of networking and its limited opportunities were noticed by The Mussel Club’s founder, David Cook, who met regularly with his associates over a plate of mussels. He realised that there were not many opportunities for professionals and business owners to meet and establish new relationships and connections. That’s how The Mussel Club came to existence, providing businesses with a platform to promote their brand through online profiles, member to member offers, and the ability to send direct messages to connections. This platform brings businesses together to enable them to support each other, share experiences and ultimately, do more business.
Snapshot of The Mussel Club’s platform
The Mussel Club brings online connections offline through face to face events with a mixture of breakfast networking events, evening meetings with inspiring speakers, and large scale exhibitions that hundreds of businesses attend.
The events are organised with a relaxed approach and informal structure to allow people to be themselves and really get to know the other guests.
How has North East BIC supported The Mussel Club?
The Mussel Club has always known about the North East BIC through their reputation and profile in the city, especially since a number of their staff also attends the company’s networking events.
Over a number of meetings it became evident that it would be beneficial to The Mussel Club’s development to work in partnership with the BIC, leading to hosting new monthly networking event at the North East BIC’s headquarters in Sunderland, which attracts over 80 business owners.
The Mussel Club’s founder David Cook with David Howell, Director of Operations at North East BIC
As well as regularly highlighting events and funding that may be of interest, the BIC has supported the company with grant funding and expertise to develop an innovative product. Currently, their unique online platform is an integrated mobile app which will enable targeted data analysis to support business communities’ growth. With the BIC’s help, the Mussel Club is also developing a customised platform that will benefit other community organisations across the UK and globally.
The support from North East BIC through funding and introductions has helped The Mussel Club to broaden their portfolio of commercial products and generate new revenue streams.
The company was also able to attend the Boost Your Business three day residential course aimed at business owners and managers who need time away from their business to plan and develop a strategic vision. Three of The Mussel Club’ staff members attended the course, feeling inspired and motivated to get back to the office and start implementing some of the ideas they took from the courses and the businesses which attended the workshop.
The development of the new software and platform for the membership, was via the BIC SME Innovation programme, funded through the England European Regional Development Fund.
North East Business and Innovation Centre Ltd, based in Sunderland, North East England, offers office space and tailored business support services for businesses. The BIC has joined EBN as full member since its creation in 1994. Since then, they have been helping over 3,000 businesses to start, creating 7,500 jobs and hosting 700 companies.
David Hook, The Mussel Club founder, highly recommends entrepreneurs to look for BICs’ support: “Any entrepreneur or business owner should seek the help from their local BIC or support organisation. It’s sometimes a lonely pursuit developing a business and having expert mentors and access to funding and development opportunities makes a huge difference.”
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