April 18, 2018

Startup Q&A - Host Events - An App for Those Parties That Need An Extra Hand Making Cocktails

Michelle Carazas
Michelle Carazas, Co-Founder and CEO at Host Events

If you’re a larger-sized company or organization that is looking to have an event (like a panel discussion or maybe even a conference) at your offices, it’s good to hire top-notch staff for the said event. And when you’re in a city like Boston that is full of skilled bartenders looking for a second gig, it would be great to reach out and leverage that talent.

The recently launched Host Events has created a bartender sharing app for events that may need an extra hand serving cocktails.

Host Events Co-Founder and CEO Michelle Carazas sat down with us to discuss how her background as a full-time bartender became the jumping off point for the company. She also gave us an insight into what Host’s ultimate goal is in a tech space that has a (seemingly) endless amount of events.

Colin Barry (CB): I’m a big fan of the phrase “origin story.” What are the origins of Host Events and how did it get its name?

Michelle Carazas (MC): I graduated from the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, double majoring in entrepreneurship and marketing management. In order to quickly pay off my student loans with an aggressive two-year timeline in mind, I maintained a full-time job in sales while bartending on nights and weekends to achieve my goal.

Brian Megill
Brian Megill, Co-Founder of Host Events

On a weekly basis, people requested my services as a bartender for private events or special occasions with no formalized process or convenient way. I realized that most of the time people are desperate to find the perfect bartender to ensure the success of an event.

Coupling my entrepreneurial mindset with my time behind the bar, the idea of Host came to life. At that point, I knew Host would revolutionize the way this industry currently connects the double-sided marketplace. I would continuously share my idea with other entrepreneurs, one of which was Brian Megill, also a Syracuse grad, who shortly after became my co-founder.

As for the name? Honestly, Brian and I sat down for weeks on end thinking about a name that would be appealing yet easy to roll off the tongue. One of our advisors Zach Allia, a former Silicon Valley developer, once told me the best apps are four letter words. After lists and lists of names, Host continued to resurface to the top when thinking about our mission and vision and what name we felt aligned well with it.

CB: What is the ultimate goal of Host?

MC: The goal for Host is to be the most reliable way to find qualified bartenders and mixologist professionals for any event.

We want this double-sided marketplace to be developed by trust and a great experience. Host does extensive background checks and is extremely selective with those that we onboard so that our customers can feel a piece of mind when booking bartenders for their events.

Bartending is an art that takes a well-trained individual. It is someone that pays attention to detail, can multitask, can create a positive space for discussions to take place, can be a perfectionist when needed, works hard, can measure and mix multiple ingredients, can think outside the box, and have a true passion for what they do.

At the end of the day, we are the platform/ technology bridging the gap between these two sides. Our voice, our vision, and our impact will always be dictated by our community and user base.

CB: Why choose Patriot’s Day weekend to commemorate the launch?

MC: This is Boston’s day to celebrate our “Boston Strong” identity.  In this way, Host is hosting all of Boston and acknowledging our rich history and the courage of all of our incredible first responders. Host will aid Boston in celebrating our unique identity for decades to come.

Michelle at host events party
Host Events recently held a launch event! Michelle (center) surrounded by supporters of the app.

CB: Explain what your company does. If it’s a particular software/platform/service/etc. how does it work?

MC: Host is a mobile platform that connects local vetted bartenders to event hosts, similar to Uber, Airbnb, and Rover. One side is geared towards those hosting the event and the other side is for our vetted and selected bartenders. Those hosting the events will be able to post events- denoting dates, times, and location. Once an event is posted the platforms of pre-selected bartenders will have the ability to apply based on their availability. The event host will then be able to select applicants based on qualifications, ratings, and reviews. All while ensuring a great experience for the host as they mingle… we mix!

Members of the Host Events team working on the app.

CB: What kind of events is Host looking to target? Who are some of the ideal clients for the app?

MC: Our target market is corporate companies made up of 100+ employees. We typically speak with admins, marketing departments, and HR departments; corporate companies have a consistent need for a professional bar presence. They make up 75% of the catering industry now. We really are tackling two birds with one stone here. You always want to be present when the consumer is going through the “pain” of finding a bartender yet always thinking of ways to build brand awareness. We attack the pain by knowing which events corporate companies have a need for and building awareness by those attending the event. However, our vetted and selected bartenders are available for any occasion and anytime.

CB: How big is the team? Looking to hire any particular position in the upcoming months?

MC: We are currently a skeleton startup team. Brian and I run the company right now and we are putting in our sweat equity and have been for the last year. Host is part of an incubator (LaunchByte) which makes up most of our Development staff. We did make our first hire and very pleased to expand our footprint. Morgan Gatzemeyer has been instrumental in helping us with our marketing campaign and our go-to strategy as we release in the next couple weeks.

Morgan Gatemeyer
Morgan Gatzemeyer, Marketing Coordinator at Host Events

CB: Has your company participated in any trade shows/meetup events in the Boston area? What about events outside of Boston?

MC: We have not participated in trade shows, however, we have immersed ourselves in the community and joined several industry night events, spoken to bartenders one on one, created a bartender brand ambassador program, and interviewed several people that usually host events. The most instrumental part to our business has been having our boots on the ground and literally trekking the city speaking to bartenders about the platform and how we can refine the approach to making it the best possible.

CB: Is the company bootstrapped or seeking investments?

MC: We recently announced our initial seed and are seeking $350K.

CB: Are there any other additional comments you’d like to make?

MC: We will not only disrupt an industry that is currently word of mouth. Host will transform the way people hold events as Uber transformed the way people commute, get around and live. We will redefine bartending by providing our professionals with a voice, a brand, and a name, as Uber provided for its drivers. We live in a world today that wants instant gratification with anything and everything that we do. The taxi industry always existed before Uber, but they simply made it more convenient by creating a platform to connect the double-sided marketplace. I always was a firm believer in not reinventing the wheel but reinventing the process and how to make things more convenient, which is why I launched Host.

Colin W. Barry is a Staff Writer & Editor at VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter @ColinKrash
Images courtesy of Host Events LLC.