On this day 10 years ago, at just after 9 pm, my heart raced and my vision narrowed as I looked out the front door of the Sports Club LA (now Equinox) at a line of 1200 teenagers. The months of hard work, promotion and marketing had paid off and we now had the most popular all age nightclub in the history of Los Angeles. The problem was we hadn’t finished building the nightclub yet. Inside the lobby of LA’s largest gym a crew was working as quickly as they could, constructing lights, speakers and a DJ booth. The gym closed at 7 pm and we had 2 hours to transform it into a nightclub.
2 hours was not enough time.
I ran around yelling at the crew, cursing their poor planning. In the midst of this meltdown I heard someone yell my name, “Bryce!” It was Jaspar, who pulled me aside and quickly calmed me down.
We were open by 9:30 and between 9:30 and 11:45 our dreams came true. We got over 1,000 people in the club at a price of $15 per person. Inside, 14 to 17 year old kids danced and partied in what felt like a real night club. And me and Jaspar, we were officially entrepreneurs.
Our elation was quickly halted when a fight broke out late in the night and everyone was kicked out of the club…gym. The next morning the gym’s management told us they never wanted to have us back, and our summer long series of nightclubs was finished after just one event.
I was devastated, after all of that hard work and brief the taste of triumph, we had our business ripped from our hands by a few dumb kids who had to fight. But again Jaspar was resilient. In the weeks that followed he went out and found another venue for Club Access, and we were able to open before the end of July for the remainder of our summer dates.
Club Access was the first business that Jaspar and I started together. Today marks a decade of partnership. A partnership that took us from nightclubs in Los Angeles, to a failed attempt to start a frozen yogurt shop in Buenos Aires, to the fastest growing outsourcing company in America. Along the way we’ve braved robberies, typhoons and government shakedowns.
In the past decade I’ve felt that same hopeless feeling that I felt the night after the first Club Access at least a dozen times. If you are an emotional entrepreneur like I am, you know the feeling. The feeling in the pit of our stomach, the feeling the seizes your chest, when you feel…no you know, that it’s all over.
This time it’s different…
Our biggest client just canceled.
Were getting sued.
The power just went out across the entire operation.
The internet is down, again.
The NBI just halted operations on a (false) accusation of fake software use.
And every time, Jaspar has been there to pick me up and calm me down.
There’s been a lot of chatter lately on how dangerous it is to have a co-founder. Our partnership isn’t perfect. But the one thing that we do better than most partnerships I’ve come across is communicate. It takes radical transparency and vulnerability to keep a close partnership of any consequence going. So my only advice in this blog is if you are in a partnership and you feel awkward, uncomfortable or stupid saying something to your partner – SAY IT! And if your partner is saying something to you that is awkward, uncomfortable or stupid – shut the fuck up and REALLY LISTEN to what they are saying.