Billy McFarland started his first business at the age of 13, a small, but effective program to find customers for a local business. While he was a freshman computer engineering student at Bucknell University, he started a company called Spling which helps businesses increase their internet presence by the optimization of their content. Spling is still an ongoing business, with McFarland at the helm as CEO. Clients include Discovery and Universal.
According to INC, Billy McFarland founded Magnises, a New York City platform strictly for millennials, allowing them to receive very attractive discounts at many of their favorite restaurants, bars, clubs, events, travel excursions, and special occasions. For the modest annual membership fee of $250, a member receives “The Black Card.”
All of the member’s pertinent information is copied from his or her debit or credit card onto the Black Card’s magnetic strip. The Black Card is used to pay for services at local businesses, and the discounts are automatically applied. By the end of 2015, McFarland already had over 10,000 memberships and counting.
Millennials love it, as they are social animals, and here is a way to save money at many of their favorite haunts. They enjoy getting together and talking shop, bragging about their exploits and obtaining business contacts.
Membership in Magnises is not a given as evidenced by the online application for which is required to be completed and approved by management. A good referral from a current member always helps. The Black Card has become a status symbol, and current members are quick to admonish their peers if they are not a member.
The target demographic of young professionals, entrepreneurs, management types in the garment industry and the IT space, and anyone else who might be somebody moving ahead, between the ages of 21 and 35. This is the magic grouping that makes the concept sizzle, and they love it.
McFarland is thinking about the expansion of the concept to other cities, and Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, London are prime targets, as he explains that millennials are the same breed, wherever you find them. His business model works well, and the future looks bright, especially since the same model is bound to be received by millennials elsewhere.