ROBBIE Goldsmith-led BachWeekend, the Nashville startup for fun-seeking bachelorettes and bachelors, inevitably juggles a number of priorities, including cementing an alliance with a strong Hotel group and raising more Seed capital, the founder and CEO told Venture Nashville.
In 2015, Goldsmith raised $190K Seed from about 11 investors, including Angels affiliated with Nashville's Selous Venture Society. By this Fall, Goldsmith said he plans to pursue "less than $250K" additional Seed capital, a portion of which may come from existing investors.
That next bit of Seed money is likely to be the last outside capital the company requires, Goldsmith said.
BachWeekend's customers pay upfront, so the company's not dealing with floating receivables or collections; and, the company is trending well toward its goal of operating with 35% margin, with monthly revenue running about 150% over the corresponding year-earlier period, he said.
Goldsmith said it is vitally important for hospitality services startups to quickly become the first brand in a category to be recognized nationally, as "the original" offering and "the industry leader."
Such status brings with it perceived legitimacy and reinforces premium price-points for its offerings. He explained that it was only after launching BachWeekend that he learned how such positioning helped establish UK-based YachtGetaways, the upscale skippered yacht cruiser, he added.
Apparently with such ends in mind, BachWeekend recently launched a new website for its up-market offering for its UltimateWeekend services, including a special event in April.
By January this year, Bachweekend had done about 230 events since inception, and in 2016 it projects doing more than 100 in Nashville, plus 10 or more in each of its immediate expansion cities, New Orleans and Miami. Among other offerings, the company already books pedal-cab tours in Nashville 40 to 50 times per year.
BachWeekend was conceived in 2013, became a business in 2014 and registered with the state about 100 days ago, according to records online. It now has 5 FTE employees.
"We could double revenues if we could figure out a way" to secure a formal alliance with a substantial hotel group, said Goldsmith, adding that he'll focus on that objective, this spring. The company is burning "a little" capital now, but could hit breakeven this summer, he said.
Such a pact would help ensure that BachWeekend can find rooms for its guests -- growth and lodging go hand-in-hand -- and could earn BachWeekend brand exposure on hotels' websites. However, hotels customarily have high thresholds for annual minimum bookings that agent-partners must deliver, he said.
In the absence of a hotel partner, the company recently began experimenting with managing an Airbnb offering for an East Nashville home-owner, with nearly 20 bookings completed.
Also this year, BachWeekend is working to increase relationships in the entertainment sector, so that its customers can access hard-to-get tickets and other exclusive opportunities, said Goldsmith.
While the CEO said he's not personally prepping for a full exit anytime soon, he emphasized that he certainly sees BachWeekend as "more than a regional lifestyle business." Also, Selous Angels are likely to take some liquidity by 2021.
Goldsmith, 28, holds the majority of the company's equity, but he shares control of BachWeekend's board of directors with members of Selous, including the Angel group's co-founder, Vic Gatto, who is also chairman of Jumpstart Foundry.
In addition to the Goldsmith and Gatto, the BachWeekend board includes COO Rachal Smith and another as-yet undisclosed Selous Angel. A fifth authorized seat is currently vacant.
BachWeekend's outside advisors include attorneys Will Norton and Jimmie Strong at Baker Donelson, and accountant Matt Wallace of Wallace Long LLC. The company banks with Avenue Bank, which recently announced it's merging with Pinnacle Financial Partners.
Goldsmith said that having previously been on-staff at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, he has numerous valued advisors in his personal network, citing as examples Michael Burcham (Narus Health, Selous Venture Society), Mark Montgomery (Flo) and Rhonda Marko (Destination Nashville, GDP affiliate).
Asked whether he sees Nashville-based EYES|Only as a market factor, Goldsmith said he sees them neither as competitor nor as potential partner, at this point. EYES|Only, led by CEO Patrick Widen and CFO Brett Nelson, focuses on customers seeking off-menu "bucket-list" experiences.
Goldsmith also said his team is not aware of any other contender that emphasizes personal services, as opposed to online destination and amenities directories and specialized bloggers.
He said New York City-based The Bach has standing in the directories category. In 2015, The Bach ranked Nashville 8th of 15 top bachelorette-party destinations, with New York and Austin 1 and 2, and Charleston 15th. VNC research showed numerous blogs and media links, including DestinationIDo.com
Asked about cross-border ambitions, Goldsmith said that it's likely to be two years before BachWeekend seriously considers "true international" operations, though it might begin earlier with services in the Bahamas or Cancun.
Goldsmith is a 2010 graduate of the University of Tennessee and is a native of New Lenox, Ill., southwest of Chicago.
He was formerly the Nashville Entrepreneur Center's director of Project Music, the accelerator partnership between the EC and the Country Music Association (CMA). VNC