It’s members only at Relationship Science
Do you know somebody who knows somebody who can invest $5 million in your startup? Or fund your nonprofit? Or get you on a panel at Davos next year? It took Capital IQ co-founder Neal Goldman and some 500 employees three years to develop a platform that can answer such questions. Goldman’s brainchild, Relationship Science — or RelSci, to use its hipper moniker — is a networking tool that helps the one percent meet the one percent. And it’s getting no small amount of financial backing from the same crowd. Heavyweight investors including Ron Perelman, Ken Langone, and Henry Kravis have bet nearly $90 million on the platform, according to Goldman, including a $29 million investment round this past June. Meanwhile, the number of RelSci’s institutional clients has more than doubled in the past eight months, to 350. Truth be told, RelSci is less a social network than it is a database of information on the world’s wealthy and influential, with detailed profiles on Warren Buffett, Mary Barra, Jamie Dimon, and some 3 million other well-placed decision-makers. It’s designed to let members — who pay hefty annual fees starting at $3,000 — quickly find the people they already know who, conceivably, could introduce them to those they most want to meet. Though it’s been around for a year, recently added features have boosted the tool’s appeal: One, for instance, alerts clients when there’s news about the person they want to meet; another lets you search by industry — a potential boon for those who know the business in which they want to explore a deal, but not the right contacts. “The problem is LinkedIn (LNKD) only does a good job of connecting you to people already in your network,” says Eamon Walsh, an insurance advisor affiliated with National Financial Partners and a RelSci client since roughly the launch. (For better or worse, the platform doesn’t provide phone numbers or email addresses.) Andy Russell, the CEO of Trigger Media and an early investor in RelSci, says he marvels at how few businesses take advantage of their often vast networks of contacts. Says Russell: “If you’re not leveraging your relationships, you’re not even scratching the surface.”
This story is from the March 17, 2014 issue of Fortune.