Host Drinks' Michelle Carazas: Making the next move
Host Drinks is “the first digital platform that connects insured bartenders with corporate event host.” Michelle Carazas, Host Drinks founder, is down-to-earth, open and honest, making her progress all the more impressive.
Michelle is juggling her full-time sales job with her growing business, still making her monthly sales quota at work while simultaneously expanding Host to different cities throughout the United States. She event managed to schedule our video conference for her class lecture with Whitman School of Management — and I’m exhausted just thinking about it all.
Michelle never intended to start a business, she explained — it just fell into her lap. Based on the Forbes article "6 Signs It's Time To Turn Your Side Hustle Into A Full-Time Business,” it seems Michelle is at the point of going full-time with Host. “An investor won’t invest in you unless you’re 100% invested,” she said, a clear understanding she will soon need to leave her day job in order to expand and grow.
Just as Michelle had always wanted to own her own business, I, too, knew I would one day own my own business. Her story resonated with me beyond our shared Boston heritage; I had also pursued other business ideas, but never felt truly passionate about any one — until now. I realized that some of my other work fell short because I lacked a clear interest, and wasn’t visibly invested. I think it was apparent to others and, therefore, this work did not gain traction.
I hadn’t previously heard the term “non-technical founder,” and learned it’s now common for many entrepreneurs to team-up with a technical co-founder for products that have a digital component. This makes sense, as you can have one person focused on ideation, marketing and business development, while the other develops the product, usability and client-facing side of the company.
It’s smart for Michelle to start the company with no paid marketing, focusing solely on word of mouth. A waitlist already on place for members to join, I can only imagine how overwhelmed the company would be if they also invested in paid advertising. “Overwhelm” means the business has insufficient resources for the demanded allocation, and could lead to loss of business. She’s timing things just right, highlighting her ability to evaluate long-term effects, and time management.
92% of Host customers are returning users, an amazing statistic for which many companies strive. I believe this has to do with the personal hand she has in all aspects of the business. She personally dispenses fliers on the streets, attends client events and conducts follow-up calls with her clients.
When you feel someone cares about you, as a client may feel with a personal phone call, you want to show reciprocal care for their time and attention; it follows many clients would return to Host Drinks.