Ian Wright launched Virtualnonexecs.com in 2019 to help businesses find non-executive directors (NEDs) and Board Advisors, without the risk of incurring high recruitment fees. Companies can pay in excess of £50,000 and $100,000+ in the US to recruit non-executive directors.
The 42-year-old has built a community of 11,000+ highly connected and well respected Board Advisors, many of whom have extensive executive careers and many more who have experience in scaling and selling businesses.
Throughout the pandemic, Wright assembled a panel of Board Advisors and offered free “virtual boards” to struggling business owners; “The result was astounding. We saw so many stressed executives make connections who went on to help them in numerous ways; fund raising, business disposals and networking were just a few of the ways our members helped their clients” says Wright.
Based in the North-West of England, Wright said: “The insight we gathered during our virtual boards highlighted a significant disconnect between those CEOs who were running businesses and the professional advisory community who are eager to connect with them.
It is only when a business owner comes to sell a business do they look outside of their immediate network to find an advisor and that isn’t always the best route. The same is true when businesses look to enter new markets, an often laborious and stressful task. This is why we developed BoardAi.”
Mr Wright says, “BoardAi is a product available to members of Virtualnonexecs.com and to the wider business community. It is a product that allows business owners, advisors and the wider professional community to connect with each other on a number of issues. From finding a board advisor to identifying consultants who can help connect you with your target audience to finding investors, the BoardAi platform does it all in minutes.
With 11,000 board advisors and 20,000+ boardrooms accessible, there’s almost no boardroom that the community cannot access.”
Wright built the UK’s first online non-executive network that he went on to sell in 2016; he was also chairman and an investor in careermap.co.uk, which sold in 2018.
He is currently a non-executive director with the global SaaS video tech company Viddyoze. He sits as a non-executive director with Europe’s largest veterinary CPD provider, thewebinarvet.com, Lancashire-based eCommerce business streetsolutionsuk.com and Yorkshire based e-learning provider, strengthandconditioningeducation.com.
He says BoardAi is now connecting over 1,000 business owners, equity providers and board consultants per week with a target of connecting 100,000 businesses per week by the end of 2021. Wright comments that “The business is 100% bootstrapped and continues to grow at a staggering pace with expansion in the UAE and USA already underway.”
Wright believes that BoardAi will change the way businesses expand their professional networks as it is more focused, easy to use and intuitive than other professional networking sites who, according to Wright “are too big and have become all things to all (wo)men.”
“I said when I launched Virtualnonexecs.com that I believed it would change the model in which NED positions are recruited and its peer-to-peer community approach is proving this. BoardAi is an Ai tool that equips our membership with everything they need to expand their portfolio, help clients and ultimately help themselves.”
Wright is currently talking to a number of institutions who are looking to invest in the company but claims “We are looking for the right partner with ‘marriage value’ who shares our common values and aims – to make BoardAi the number 1 global player in the boardroom space”