Andrew Dennis, age 28, and Eric Liu, age 29, came up with the idea for Spaciety in their hometown of Chicago a little over a year-and-a-half ago. Spaciety (SPA – ciety) is an online booking engine for the spa industry similar to OpenTable or Expedia. It provide spas with an avenue to offload their perishable assets, and consumers a convenient, transparent way to quickly book spa / salon services online.
Here’s a little more about Andrew’s and Eric’s story and their experience at the Brandery so far:
What inspired you to start Spaciety?
Andrew: "A year and a half ago was my 3-year anniversary with my girlfriend. I’m an awesome guy and was scrambling to finish off the perfect gift. I wanted her day to start off with a massage. The first two spas that I called were booked all morning. The 3rd spa put me on hold. I hung up and searched online, but found nothing. I was so frustrated. It didn’t make sense that finding a massage was that difficult. I started mocking up Spaciety a week later."
Have you always wanted to start your own company?
Andrew: "I knew that the startup community was something that I was interested in, but I wasn’t sure if I could make the leap. Eric was a really awesome inspiration and mentor for me early on. We worked for the same company, and he left first and started a few companies on his own."
Eric: "I just knew I couldn’t work for the man forever. I wanted more lifestyle flexibility."
Which presentation(s) or mentor(s) at the Brandery has contributed most to Spaciety’s strategy development so far?
“Geoff Allen – Crazy awesome energy. No sugar coating. He has learned a ton of lessons in his long, successful career as an entrepreneur. He had very strong opinions and made it his priority to help us avoid making similar mistakes. More than anybody else – his experiences apply directly to us now. He’s been there. Done it. Succeeded. Failed. Succeeded a few more times. He provides really candid advice.
Sonny Jandial – Sonny came to talk very early on in the program. We were just getting used to everything, but he was ready to jump straight in. Great insight into the startup community. Our biggest takeaway from Sonny was developing a sustainable competitive advantage.
Kenny Tomlin – He just sold Rockfish Interactive, a company that he started by himself. No big deal. Incredible guy. Great story – On Spaciety’s behalf, Kenny interviewed and hired our waitress on the spot while she was giving us our check at the end of the meal. She was smart, outgoing, and already had a vast understanding of OpenTable operations from the business side."
Joe Medved – The Venture Capitalist perspective was invaluable to hear in person. His opinions on deck presentation and financial assumptions/modeling have already been applied. Hilarious car ride with Joe after in which the RentShare guys almost ran out of gas. I would have loved to see Joe push their Volvo around Cincinnati.
Bob Arnold – He’s an ex-P&G guy and current Kellogg guy. There is nothing like a 9am Saturday morning 3-hour brainstorming session to give you a screaming headache. It’s amazing how much brainpower he spent on finding, understanding, and capturing our target consumer."
How did you find out about the Brandery?
Andrew: "The Brandery is starting to make a name for itself. I first heard about The Brandery from some guys in the Chicago startup community. After further research, I saw it was named a top-10 Accelerator and recently joined the TechStars Network."
Why did you decide to join the Brandery?
Eric: "We were very excited about Cincinnati, and it seemed like a great opportunity. We needed help growing the company, and after talking to Dave Knox it became clear that what we needed and what the Brandery had to offer were one and the same: branding and marketing expertise and growth strategy.
What is the best piece of advice for starting your own company you have received?
Eric: "’Do it.’ From Jerome Vargis, a personal mentor of mine since I was a kid. He owns a chain of roller rinks in Chicago."
Andrew: "Burn the boats."