Published: February 22, 2020 | Updated: February 22, 2020

It’s the ONLE one for everyone as fast-growing networking business acquires The Boardroom

Kevin Sheldrake, Founder of The Boardroom (left) toasts the acquisition of his peer-to-peer business owner community, with Kelly and James West, Co-Founders of ONLE Networking. Picture: Dorset Biz News.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

A networking business which has seen impressive growth since its formation two years ago has acquired Dorset’s peer-to-peer business owner community, The Boardroom.

ONLE Networking, headed by husband and wife team James and Kelly West, says the acquisition will strengthen as well as expand its portfolio.

The Boardroom will operate as a separate business unit as part of the ONLE suite of businesses and will be called The ONLE Boardroom.

It brings business owners together to share and tackle their business growth challenges.

With meetings taking place across Hampshire and Dorset, as well as online-only boards, The Boardroom has built a reputation for helping businesses at similar stages of growth to collaborate and troubleshoot their challenges in a confidential environment.

Kevin Sheldrake, Founder of The Boardroom, is leaving to focus on a new business venture.

He said: “Having collaborated with the founders of ONLE Networking, James and Kelly, on several projects, it was clear they shared my values of supporting business, transparent communications and a determination to build their business ethically.

“When I made the decision to step away from The Boardroom, my first consideration was ensuring the members were left in safe hands.

“For that reason, ONLE Networking was my number one choice and I’m happy that under their guardianship, the essence of The Boardroom will not only be preserved, but enhanced.”

Kelly West, Co-Founder of ONLE Networking, said the addition of The Boardroom to the ONLE Networking portfolio was a natural fit, offering a powerful yet complementary way for its networking members to build their businesses.

She added: “We’d known for some time that our members needed a ‘next-tier’ product to help them reach their business development goals.

“So when Kevin offered us the opportunity to continue the incredible work he and his team have started, we didn’t hesitate.

“The Boardroom is an amazing brand and its members are business trailblazers.

“The ONLE Boardroom allows us to immediately offer an in-demand product to our members, while access to our fast-growing network means it will be able to reach a much larger audience.”

ONLE Networking, which was founded in 2018, currently operates 18 business networking groups across the south coast and online with almost 200 members.

In Dorset it has groups at Poole’s Hotel Du Vin and, from last week, NEO restaurant in Bournemouth.

New groups are due to launch in Portsmouth, Brighton and Newcastle by the end of next month.

ONLE says it has a fresh approach to networking which has created an attractive culture.

It has no category restrictions or point scoring which, the business says, offers a pressure-free and collaborative networking environment.

The monthly ONLE meetings are held at specific venues and designed to suit all business schedules with breakfast, brunch and lunch meetings, as well as supper clubs.

The relaxed yet structured meetings include:

  • Members and visitors asked to introduce themselves and their business plus a short summary of what makes them different.
  • A short education section followed by a roundtable discussion for those who want to get involved.
  • Finishing with the ‘I ONLE’ section, where everyone can ask for help from the group, make recommendations, give referrals and explain special offers.

The cost of annual membership is £330 plus VAT. This gives membership to a monthly core ONLE meeting, access to the Facebook group and a member profile on the website.

The meeting fee for the core group is typically a further £20 to £30.

Each meeting has a host (ONLE Partner) and Associate.

Both self-confessed serial networkers, James and Kelly first met at a networking event.

James said: “We believe we’ve hit on a winning formula and are ambitious to grow.

“We want everyone to benefit from and enjoy business networking.

“As we say, we’re the ONLE one for everyone.”