*Wrote a major portion of this shortly after Biker Fest on June 17 2009 and I finally got back to it on December 8th to close it out*
(from June 17th)
First off let me begin with this quote that I received from a friend of mine that was said by Saul Alinsky, “There can be no darker nor more devastating tragedy that the death of a man’s faith in himself and in his power to direct his future.” A crushing defeat can do this.
I begin with this quote because for the past few days I have been psyching myself out of a funk that stems from BIKER FEST 2009, I know that failure is an event and not an individual but boy is that so much easier to say when the waters are smooth. Its much more difficult to believe once you have failed gloriously, lol.
Many people have told me that if I write out my thoughts that I will feel better and I know that to be true to so here goes because I dont really think BIKER FEST 2009 was that big of a failure, we just didnt succeed as much as we hoped in the most important part, getting people through the gates, lol.
The story of BIKER FEST begins sometime in the first week of April where my good friend Nikhil walked in the door to our apartment with the idea of putting on an event June 13 2009, called Biker Fest 2009. No one in the room had ever put on a big event and I was the only one who had ever put on any event of any size but none of this magnitude. The idea was to rent out a 271 foot by 271 foot parking lot in downtown Austin at the intersection of 7th & Trinity, a prime spot we thought.
Luckily, we had a great opportunity to get the entire lot for $2,000. An unheard of asking price for such a prime lot. The idea quickly snowballed into an all day music fest with a Harley Give Away and a full out bar and entertainment for the Fest. Boy can imaginations run wild. Nikhil was able to get a few people on board, 5 total, dubbed the 5 Horsemen. We all pitched in our monetary portions, in which I threw in 10%.
Later on it came to light that the idea of this fest came from Jay, a local bar guy who would be somewhat of our partner for this. Jay had talked about putting on a similar event the year before but never did for whatever reason and couldn't this year because he just had a kid and bought a house yada yada yada too much risk. Jay was to be Biker Fests' bar partner, he would provide the bar, insurance and liquor license. Jay supposedly tried to get the lot the year before for $2k and thats how the idea came to light.
Well now that the 5 horsemen came to ride together for Biker Fest and the real world education began....
We hit the ground running, Nikhil was quick to get it going. Cowboy Harley was a partner that we initially made from the get go. Biker Fest purchased a 2009 Harley Davidson Iron 883 Sportster, a nice bike in my opinion but viewed as a girlie bike by the die hard biker community. This was to be the bike that Biker Fest would give away, it was also the center of the event, a bike give away. At this same time we also got a reality check. The lot that we first thought was $2k actually turned out to be $8k. Due to budgetary constraints, we ended up getting half the lot for twice as much as we planned.
Shortly after that it occurred to Biker Fest to see if we could sell tickets for the Raffle we planned to have to give away the bike. Well after having bought the bike it came to light that a for profit business can not charge people to be a part of a raffle. So that instantly changed our entire economic model of selling tickets to attendees to win the bike. We could no longer sell tickets needed for the raffle, we now had to sell tickets for the event and make the registration open to all.
These were probably two signs that we should have taken notice of and stopped the event but instead we pushed forward. We looked at various advertising options and Biker Fest got a real good deal to advertiser with KLBJ, the largest Rock station in central Texas. A third partnership that we felt would help very much with the success of Biker Fest 2009. So far we had Wave Austin Bar, Cowboy Harley Davidson, and KLBJ. Regardless of these mishaps we thought these partners would help with the event.
Considering that Biker Fest now had half the lot for twice as much, a bike that we had to give a way without people paying for it, and a bar we ran with it. Well with less than 2 months before the event we began to realize how difficult it is getting vendors to sign up for an event in such a short notice. To make a long story short, we were able to get a few, 4 food vendors and 4 business vendors. One week prior to the event one vendor getting 6 spots backed out and two big food vendors backed out with one writing us a hot check that bounced. We ended up having two local bike custom shops, and 2 business vendors selling clothes and jewelry. As you can probably tell, the venue was pretty empty.
Luckily we were able to book all the bands we needed, all local and all rocking. However, the headliner LC Rocks may have been a bit pricey for the event but we learned that thru a bit of negotiation and sales you can get a lower price and we did. We had a 20 foot by 20 foot stage that was about 4 feet off the ground with a tent cover and a cat walk with two side stages for people to dance on. Quite a nice stage set up, it was set to rock. We also were able to get two giant port a cools to go between the stage and the side dancing platforms.
A lot of the momentum really started 3 weeks before the event. This is where we sold pretty much got the vendors we had and the additional partnerships. I will discuss this partners in greater detail because I was more involved with these than the previously mentioned.
The first is that of getting two gentlemens clubs to partner with Biker Fest. The idea was to have them send out girls to the venue all day to help promote the event and get the party started. The exchange was simple, we would include their name in our ad spots, which keep in mind by this time were already on the air and that they would be the exclusive gentlemen's club partner for Biker Fest. Well they jumped on board 2 weeks before the event and we had to replace one of our 60 second spots on KLBJ. Soon after getting them on board, I got on the horn and scheduled us to go into the studio and record a new spot. We recorded a new spot in less than 24 hours and had it at the radio station soon after that and into rotation in less than 72 hours, an amazing feat.
Do your research - parking lot and bike give away, radio advertising and biker demographic
Business take time to respond and plan - many businesses cant decide on short notice to attend an event
I can get things done when I am determined - Expose, Budweiser, generator, bikini bike wash
Stick to what you know - we arent bikers
Reading this puts a smile on my face now and I would just like to add some of the memories I was feeling the day of the event. It was amazing how we were able to pull this together so quickly, yeah we could have done some things differently and probably wait till next year with more planning but phuck it, sometimes you just gotta man up and run with it. So we did, although we lost our shirts on this, it was a great learning experience. We could not have gotten a better education in school, and I know this for a fact.
I was crushed for a good while after this but now that 5 months have passed, I am way past it and onto bigger and better things. I could tell plenty of stories about the experience but right now I would like to keep in memory and maybe repeat it whenever I retell the story to who ever cares to listen. I'll be sure to record it so that I can add it to the blog as a continuation.
Looking back on all this, you live and learn and life goes on. Can't stop won't stop. If you try enough things, something is bound to stick.