Why starting a Web-based business is like planning a bachelorette party in Vegas
As one might gather from the title, I’m planning a bachelorette party in Vegas for a friend of mine who’s getting married in the spring, and I realized that the process of planning someone’s bachelorette party is much like starting a Web-based business. That cute little slogan, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”: not true. A lot of things can go very wrong very quickly, and that stuff can haunt you for the rest of your life. Similarly, when starting a Web business, a lot can go wrong and you need to make sure you have your ducks in a row come time for launch.
First, you have to come up with the idea. Your friend is getting married, hopefully just once. Granted, the statistics are not on her side, but you want to be a cool friend and plan for the best case scenario, so you want to send her out in style. You could plan a nice, safe weekend in Tahoe, or a classy wine-tasting tour of Napa. But you can do that any time. What does a true bachelorette party need? It needs total irresponsibility and reckless behavior.
Similarly, when starting a Web business, you need to make sure that you are meeting a real need that Internet users actually have. At the September Vator Splash event, investor Rick Heitzmann, founder and managing director at FirstMark Capital, told me that a good startup should be meeting a pressing, urgent need, not a nagging inconvenience that isn’t all that critical. Kevin Hartz, founder and CEO of Eventbrite, shared that sentiment in his presentation, noting the fact that a successful startup should consider the necessity of its solution.
Now, once you have the idea lined up, you need to think about money. When planning a bachelorette party, too often people make the mistake of channeling all of their funds into buying drinks for the bride-to-be. What inevitably happens is everyone ends up sharing a cheap motel room where more than half of the group has to sleep on the floor. Result: everyone has a miserable, uncomfortable weekend. A bachelorette party in Vegas will inevitably be expensive, but everyone is just going to have to accept the fact that if they want to make it a memorable weekend, they’re going to have to spend a lot of money. This means saving well in advance.
Starting a business requires the same kind of commitment. The bigger and more solid the idea, the more time and money it will need to get off the ground. Peter Thiel made this point at the September Vator Splash event: a business that requires little money and promises to be profitable in six months is not going to last. That is not a world-changing business; it’s something that anyone can do (like going to Tahoe or going wine-tasting). A big, earth-shattering idea is going to require a big time and money commitment.
Staking out the competition
And of course, one can’t overlook the competition. You’re probably wondering how this relates to a bachelorette party in Vegas. The raw, dirty truth of the matter is that there are a lot of hot girls in Vegas—go-go dancers with abs you can crack a coconut on. When you’re part of a bachelorette troupe, you need to be hotter. No one, least of all the bachelorette herself, wants to go on a weekend trip to Vegas only to end up feeling fat and ordering vodkas and club sodas all night. You need to prepare! This means going on a strict diet and exercise regimen months in advance so that come Vegas, you can order Cosmos and Appletinis with ease (you’re going to go home looking like hell anyway, so might as well get the job done right).
Similarly, when starting a Web-based business, you need to stake out the competition. Are there a lot of people in this space already? Are you offering a unique service/product?
And then there are the legal issues to sort through. Obviously, when planning for a weekend in Vegas, there are unsavory issues—both legal in the literal sense and legal in the metaphorical sense—that need to be addressed. Rules need to be established. For example: no drunk crying. No drunk dialing exes, for that matter. And no biting (this really does happen). Also, who is going to be the person who decides when someone’s falling-down injury warrants a trip to the hospital? I came home with a black eye and a facial scar from the last bachelorette party I attended. Deciding on whether or not to go to the hospital was a tough call.
Everyone knows that there are legal issues that must be considered when starting an Internet business. Things like licenses, patents, trademarks, copyrights, and domain names must be thoroughly researched ahead of time to make sure you don’t find yourself in a tough spot after you launch. The last thing anyone wants is to be sued by Facebook or Apple for having the word “-book” or an image of an apple in their company logo. Startups should consider hiring a lawyer familiar with Internet law.
In summary, with a lot of research, preparation, money, and a good, solid idea, both your Web-based business and your bachelorette party in Vegas are guaranteed to be resounding successes.
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Eventbrite is the world’s largest self-service ticketing platform, and enables people all over the world to plan, promote, and sell out any event. The online event registration service has helped organizers process over 130 million tickets in 179 countries, and makes it easy for everyone to discover and share the events with people they know. In this way, Eventbrite brings communities together by encouraging people to connect through live experiences. Eventbrite's investors include DAG Ventures, Sequoia Capital, T. Rowe Price, Tenaya Capital and Tiger Global. Learn more at www.eventbrite.com.