A Virtual Deal-Making Machine

In this age of social media, even business matchmaking, traditionally the domain of word of mouth and handshakes, could use a little tech facelift.

That, at least, is what Opportunity Network’s CEO Brian Pallas believes. His company offers a way for top executives all over the world to seek each other out and partner up for possible deals without having ever met.

“We want to take something that has always happened in a very personal way and scale it up,” says Pallas. “Our goal is to maintain the same level of trust that you would get from a friend introducing you to another, but move beyond simply leveraging an individual’s network of connections.”

To achieve an offering that has both breadth and depth, Pallas has recruited the help of financial services firms. They are the ones that hold the key to membership, since Opportunity Network gives them invites that they then distribute as rewards among their best corporate clients. Pallas sees this as, in effect, a way of pre-screening future members without having to do the work in-house.

For interested executives, the network guarantees the caliber of people they can connect with once they join; for financial institutions, it is a nice perk they can give their elite clients that comes with a secondary benefit. “If you are enabling them to make more deals,” says Pallas, “every time they do, they will need more banking services.”

Once in, executives can post deal opportunities worth more than $1 million or search for them in anonymously. Opportunity Network reviews each proposed deal to make sure it complies with laws and regulations. When one member shows interest in another’s pitch, the match is made via email, and the two are free to carry on their conversation outside Opportunity Network.

Among the most recent successful matches are a rare earth project in Tanzania that raised capital from a strategic investor and a Latin American dried-fruit producer and exporter that found a distributor in New York. Opportunity Network partners with 45 financial institutions all over the world. It has around 4,500 members in 75 countries.