37-year-old Moses Folau had been living in Auckland for a couple of years when the gatherings at his Scene 3 apartment building – up on level 9 – started to get a bit much. Sure, the mixture of friends, neighbours and business acquaintances were getting business done and enjoying a few brewskis – but, as Folau told In The Dogbox, “I got sick of cleaning my own apartment every time the guys left, taking the recycling five levels down!” “People would come over for a few beers or BBQ but at the end of the night I was the one left cleaning everything!
The solution: Folau started his own members-only club.
“So I said to the boys, why don’t we make our own private space in the middle of town. We can help people get contracts for building works. It fit in with my work as a business development manager for a property development company.” Called 9elevan (named after his apartment, not the terrorist attack), the club works like this:
• Members number nearly 30 at the moment, and might be capped at 50 • It’s a central hub for private business meetings • You’ve got to be voted in by two members who’ll vouch for you. • Members include all sorts architects, property developers, roofers, security, a power company owner, real estate agents and more. It’s mostly men, but women aren’t excluded. • Members can’t buy drinks directly until the club’s liquor licence is approved… although members have chipped in to pay the $5200 in fees required to apply for an Auckland liquor licence • Although the club is in a very popular laneway off Queen Street, it’s a little bit hard to find because the door is covered with imitation brick wallpaper. So the entrance is disguised to keep non-members out, basically. • The fees are modest, currently at less than $40 per week. Multiply that by the number of members and it helps get the lease paid. • The earliest 20-odd members get the honour of being in a portrait on the wall.
It’s a work in progress, with 9elevan’s top floor still undergoing renovations after three months, but the club is off to a good start. One of the best results from networking has been that Folau and his friend/business partner Kane Fraser managed to find a great publicity opportunity for their bar Sweet Spot after they chatted to a man who turned out to own digital billboard company Lumo… which solved their advertising requirements. Folau’s advice for anyone wanting to set up their own club is “Start with a good network of boys – just do it! Move on if it doesn’t work out.”
Other good advice if you want to get your own club going: • Expect to pay thousands in fees to have your application for a liquor licence considered • Expect the process to be as easy or complicated as what sports clubs go through, working out the ‘sweet spot’ between balancing the books and proper sales. • Understand you’ll need to lay out plenty of money to make the place mint, so don’t set your membership fees too low. • Be sure the place looks suave, because those few extra thousand spent on decor could bring members business deals worth a lot more.
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