In Touch Networks, the disruptive online training and networking business, is back in the ranking for the third year running. The Manchester-based start-up, which launched its first network in 2013, has turned the traditional recruitment model on its head. In Touch has 125,000 active memberships on its books. The membership is made up of experienced executives, entrepreneurs, and industry specialists. “We’re obviously doing something right,” says chief executive Matthew Roberts. “Memberships have gone through the roof.” The business now boasts a run-rate of £14m, up from a turnover of £5m in 2017.
The secret to In Touch’s success is twofold: the time and attention it gives its members, and its approach to training, development and networking. “A month ago, a venture capitalist was looking for a non-exec,” explains David Wheatcroft, In Touch director. “They pressed the button on an IPO on the Monday and needed the candidate very quickly. They gave us a brief and, by Friday, we had six amazing candidates with the right skills in the right location. The following week, they’d made their hire. It’s so different from the longwinded headhunter approach, cost the firm absolutely nothing, and was exclusive for our members.”
At a time when boards are seeking more diversity, In Touch is proving a crucial partner. It was recently recognised by the FT for its commitment to boosting diversity among senior executives. “People think of non-execs as bankers in pinstripe suits, wearing red ties, but we’re helping to change that perception,” says Wheatcroft.
Member engagement levels “keep going up”, he adds, because of the raft of training, coaching services and events that In Touch has added to the platform. In Touch aims to provide all the tools that professionals need to have rewarding and interesting careers.
The model has been so successful in the UK that word has spread. The business now has 3,000 members signed up in the US, and is now launching a dedicated operation in Chicago. Once this office is up and running, the business will expand into other target markets, such as Dubai, Sydney and Rio de Janeiro.
For any fast-growth business, recruitment is a challenge. To help attract the best people, In Touch recently moved into a 26,000 square foot space in the trendy Spinningfields district, complete with bar, social area, piano, and PS4s. The company currently employs 135 people.
Roberts says of his success to date: “The significant growth we have seen over the last four years has been phenomenal, and with that growth we have further extended the services and products for our members. Our continued success and commitment to innovation has allowed us to both disrupt the industry and carry out valuable work socially. I am proud of the team at In Touch, and we strive to continue our fantastic growth as we head towards 2019.”