Hampton is the new tech member community for CEOs
Sam Parr, founder of HubSpot’s acquired newsletter and media brand, The Hustle, doesn’t watch “Succession” because “it’s too real” (and because he’d rather watch comedy than giant billionaire fights). But when he announced his new project, Hampton, an invitation-only club for CEOs, the references started rolling.
It’s specifically a quote from Succession that remains, in which beloved and eternally tortured character Kendall Roy describes her and her siblings’ new media project as follows: “It’s like a private club, but for everything the world.” All kidding aside, Parr’s vision for Hampton isn’t far removed from that tagline.
Hampton, built by Parr and a media veteran Joe Speiser, wants to give high-growth leaders a high-impact community to lean on, whether it’s through financial screen sharing or asking for advice because there’s only one month left of the lead. And as the collapse of SVB showed, a strong network can be a means of survival.
The company has been in the works for about nine months and has more than 300 members, including Austin Rief of Morning Brew, Anand Sanwal of CB Insights, Melissa Parvis of Fresh Clean Tees and Ryan Holmes of Hootsuite. To join the community, Parr explains, members must have successfully completed one of the following: starting a business with $1 million in revenue, securing $3 million in funding, or selling a business for at least $5 million. Next, they are asked about their cultural fit and to confirm that they are building digital-first businesses. So far, half of the members are business-backed, the other half are seeded.
Those who are accepted must sign a confidentiality agreement. Then they are welcomed to a personalized platform that has a member manager, where you can view profiles, request intros, and see a map of where other members are. The portal also has a list of verified suppliers and an events calendar. Hampton members are also put on a Slack for daily chat, which is used by 85% of members. Members are placed in an eight-person group that meets once a month with an “executive facilitator,” which Parr describes as business therapy.
Since leaving stealth yesterday, Hampton has landed over 3,000 new apps. “By the way, we’re not letting everyone in, we’re very slowly and meticulously looking at who’s the best fit,” Parr said. And right now, there’s only room for 400 more members before Hampton hits its cap.
The co-founder says he took notes from YPO, Young Presidents’ Organization, and Vistage, a global executive coaching organization, when building Hampton. “Those are great, but a lot of these people may be owners of a plumbing business or someone who inherited five apartment buildings in South Florida,” he said. “They need their employees, but our employees aren’t exactly those people,” adding “No legacy business – you have to have started it and you have to be pretty aggressive about growth and personal growth.”
If that sounds exclusive, that’s because it is (although Parr says the company’s name is based on a street near which he lived in Missouri, not the luxury summer destination of the city). ‘Upper East Side). Only 8% of applicants are accepted. About 15% of members at present identify as female, which is higher than some other community programs, but still shows a diversity gap.
One of Hampton’s closest competitors, Chief, actually built a billion-plus-dollar company to fill that gap. Chief is a private club for women in leadership positions. It only accepts women who identify themselves as “senior executive, accomplished vice president, or equivalent leadership role within your organization” and who have an “established career with more than 15 years of experience.” And it’s recently expanded to the UK Like Hampton, Chief has a waiting list that’s longer than it accepts.
Parr thinks Hampton is even more specialized than Chief because instead of working with people in different leadership positions, he only works with CEOs and founders who have reached very specific growth milestones. Unlike Chief, which has raised about $140 million in venture funding, Hampton isn’t raising a penny of outside capital.
Parr created one of the fastest growing email newsletters at The Hustle, before selling it for around $27 million. He and his co-founder are committed to investing up to seven figures of their own capital in the business, and therefore they don’t need to look to investors for seed capital.
Although he thinks Chief will work, he expressed the stress that occurs when venture capital backs community startups. “Communities aren’t like something you can just throw bodies on, you have to be very, very, very, very careful,” Parr said. “I just didn’t want to have to grow like five times a year.”
After the community-driven business boom of 2021, and the resulting spitting, the market is tired of whether a membership will bring value. I’ve spent years covering the networks tech people use to land their first check, job, promotion, or “yes.” I’ve also seen how most community-driven businesses all jump at the chance to get bigger – whether its accelerators increase the size of their check or just the number of programs entrepreneurs have to go through.
About five months ago, I wrote that we felt like we were at an inflection point for the community-driven startup: double down on your knowledge and focus on discipline despite this downturn. If Hampton sticks to his early messages, his incentives seem different from other clubs (or Clubhouse, even) in that he doesn’t see success as evolving through people.
Parr is confident – they’ve only had to issue two refunds for disgruntled members – but he’s not unaware of market realities.
“I don’t want to ruin my reputation and worst of all, if someone gives us their money, we have to provide 10 times the value,” Parr said. “I’m scared of it. I think it will work. But it literally keeps me up all night.