Hello! Who are you, and what business did you start?
My name is Mike Petrakis - I’m the Co-Founder and CEO of BACH, an app that plans and books bachelor/ette parties.
How the app works: Groups can plan parties by inviting their friends, chatting with them, and hosting polls, adding events to an itinerary, and splitting up expenses. Groups can book fun experiences on their trip via our explore section, which is live across 12 U.S. cities.
Our customers are bachelorettes and their friends looking to have a memorable experience planned seamlessly and efficiently.
We have 40,000+ parties using BACH this month and we’ve grown from $0 to >$1M net revenue run rate in less than 6 months.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I love the outdoors. I’m an avid surfer and snowboarder, and I grew up running, set multiple high school records, and got recruited to run the D1 track at the University of Richmond. My running career came to an end when I broke my neck in a snowboarding accident. I was put in a body brace, missed a semester of school, and was forced to reevaluate my path in life. I decided I wanted to build successful businesses and set my sights on entrepreneurship. Getting a ‘real job’ was never an option - I always wanted to be a Founder since I was a kid.
Getting a ‘real job’ was never an option - I always wanted to be a Founder since I was a kid.
I was always strapped for money. My fiance likes to joke that on our first date, we both went to pay for drinks and I intentionally fumbled with my wallet and let her foot the bill. I was bootstrapping e-commerce businesses for five years in New York, building each from 0 to 7 figures revenues within two years.
Our lead investor presented the idea to me. He knew I was hungry to build something big, and I know a little something about planning a party ;) Moreso by building e-commerce companies from 0 to 1 the same principles and metrics carry over to a marketplace business as well. Our aha moment happened when our waiting list went viral and we built a database of 50,000 addresses in two months. We knew we were on to something big.
Take us through the process of designing and launching the MVP
We built an MVP that we were not proud of. It needed a lot of work so I started looking around for friends to help. I brought on my Co-Founder, Greg. He’s the most connected, energetic, sleep-hating person I know. He was perfect to bring this thing from 0-100. We took out a small coworking space in NYC which kept us motivated through these early stages and had a lot of fun celebrating our initial wins.
You need the right team and vision first, and people will gravitate towards it.
Once Greg joined me, we were off to the races. We contracted a team to help build our MVP, we built the waitlist of 50,000+ people and hired a creative director to build an awesome brand. We launched the MVP product in January 2020 with the planning tools only and gained over 100,000 users in our first 60 days. We knew we were onto something big, and our users were begging us to build out a marketplace. So that’s what we spent 2020 doing. My partner with a team of two opened up 1,500 bookable experiences across 12 cities.
Whiteboarding the original MVP:
Describe the process of launching the business.
Surround yourself with as many smart people or mentors as you possibly can. I had brought products to market before and I have a decent marketing background so I knew how to grow the demand side.
I think the most important lesson was bringing on smart people to lead areas of the business where you lack expertise and knowing your strengths/weaknesses. If you can have the confidence to know your strengths and weaknesses, do a good job selling the business to convince people to join you, then there are plenty of ways to seek capital. You need the right team and vision first, and people will gravitate towards it.
We gained our first customers by building a waitlist. We targeted everyone who is engaged on FB/IG and ran campaigns for people to sign up for a chance to win. We built this waitlist to over 50,000 subscribers.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Our app has a natural vitality to it. You invite one lead user then that user invites the rest of the party. To fuel the viral loop, we enlist several digital channels, with the lead channels being Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
- We’ve gone from 30,000 in monthly bookings (gross sales) to almost 400,000 in 6 months.
- We earn $2.25 for every $1 spent on marketing.
- We think the average user will go on 3+ bachelorette parties with us, but it's too early to tell.
- The goal is to hit $1M this year in monthly bookings, then focus on taking over the bachelorette market in 2022. 2023 will be about repurposing the product, marketplace, and data we’ve gathered to appeal to various user groups outside bachelorette parties.
Don’t just start a company to do your own thing.
BACH Team at most recent offsite:
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Here’s the top of mind lessons:
- Surround yourself with advisors who have been there, done that
- Make decisions that are based on the data.
- Build a launch strategy for every single major feature launch.
- Introductions are important when dealing with recruiting or potential investors.
For Marketplace-specific companies, I would stress the importance of supply-side growth. You need to think through what are the major levers that drive the business as a whole. For a long time, we were focused on growth at all costs in the form of increasing user acquisition conversion rate and average order value to measure our success. However, we learned that our business was driven by the supply side and when building our marketplace the expansion came down to what is the highest margin opportunity in the “greenest” space. That’s why we focused on the experiences market first. When you realize you’re in a green space and have leverage via strong margins, you often discover new ways to add value. In other words, the green space that we identified that vendors formerly had lacked a technology solution to add value to their business, whereas we found that we could add value through both B2B and B2C channels to help drive their customer acquisition, customer service needs, order fulfillment and date/time availability. It always helps to play in an open market not only because of the lack of competition of advanced technology at that time.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- We built our custom mobile app. Front end react-native, backend AWSjava script.
- Our marketing automation software is called Iterable. We track our app user analytics on mixpanel.
- We track our acquisition attribution on appsflyer. We process our transactions through Stripe. We built our backend on AWS that manages all vendor information including order fulfillment, date/time availability, and sales reporting data.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
- Unbroken, the story of Louis Zamperini
- Four Hour Work Week - Tim Ferris
- How I Built This podcast
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things Ben Horowitz
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
- Rich Roll podcast
- I am a part of the StartX community that has been instrumental in providing us with learning resources.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Don’t just start a company to do your own thing. Think like an investor when building a company. Ask yourself, is this worth your time, could this have a large outcome, what would the monetization strategy and unit economics look like? When you bring on a co-founder, it’s pretty similar to bringing on an investor; you’re giving them equity in exchange for adding extreme value.
Things to start a company;
- Have grassroots/prior entrepreneurial experience where you’re going through the phases of the start-up journey. Bringing a product to market, pitching investors, surrounding yourself with smart people, putting a team together.
- Tips for pitching investors -- record every early conversation and think about what investors are trying to ask you with each question. Show your weak spots upfront and be transparent. Make sure you hit on all of the metrics they want to see -- TAM, CAC, LTV, growth plan, etc.
- Get industry-specific experience, or all the required research in your field prior to taking on the endeavor.
- Join an incubator/accelerator - you don’t know what you don’t know and you need to have people hold you accountable.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’re hiring for three positions:
- Product Manager
- Senior Backend Developer,
- Art Director
If you’re interested in applying, you can apply directly through the link on our website.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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