Inspiring Business by Sharing Success

Leicestershire Entrepreneur’s Networking Group Goes From Strength to Strength with First Franchise Deal

Leicestershire Entrepreneur’s Networking Group Goes From Strength to Strength with First Franchise Deal

Leicestershire based entrepreneur, John Whitbread, has secured the first franchise deal for his Midlands networking group, Cognates, after already seeing vast growth through Covid.


John set up Cognates in April 2020 after identifying a better way for people to network and connect during the pandemic.

John said:

“I wanted to create a collaborative networking group that would work for any business. There was always something missing for me in other networking sessions I’d joined. I always felt that the focus was on the wrong thing, such as tracking the performance with points. Instead I believe that itshould be about building true connections and having one to ones with every member. My networking group is focused on just that and, in turn, it has created a real sense of community with businesses that are all genuinely helping and supporting each other. I launched my first group in my home town of Measham and it was so successful that within just two months I’d opened up another group. We had five groups running within nine months of launching.”


Cognates has gone from strength to strength, and seeing that he had created a formula that worked, John wanted to be able to help others do the same. To make this possible, he has now opened up his networking into a franchise.

John added:

“Building any business takes sacrifice. But now that I’ve got a successful formula in place, it seemed only right that I share this success with others. This also means that more people across the UK will be able to take part in this new format of networking that has proved to be a real hit.”

This week Cognates secured its first franchisee with existing group member Lucy Connelly.

Lucy commented: “I love the Cognates meetings. The format allows for so many added extras that you just don’t get from other networking groups, and the balance of social and professional is perfect. Every member of your group feels like a member of your team. I’ve been working in sales for nearly 25 years, so I know how difficult it is. Having a group that is working with you to help sell your products or services is such an asset, and Cognates provides just that.”


Cognates currently runs online meetings in Leicester, Derby City, South Derbyshire, Nottingham and Birmingham, and Lucy will be launching the first new meeting in Hinckley/Nuneatonon 13th April, with Northampton lined up just after that.

John is now looking for more franchisees across the UK.

For further information on Cognates visit

< Back