Co-founder of the sober party sensation, Party.0 and public speaker, Jake White shared his entrepreneurial business background with us, including some of the challenges and rewards he has faced during his journey.
Q: Tell us a little about your entrepreneurial background and where the inspiration for Party.0 came from?
Jake White: I started my entrepreneurial journey when I was 14. My dad got a full-time job teaching so he handed his embroidery business over to me. He taught me how to run the machinery, set up clothing, send invoices and identify problems when they arose. The orders came in spurts so I’d have only a few orders each month. It taught me how to rely on myself for projects and also gave me a great deal of independence.
Q: How did Party.0 develop from an idea to a successful organization with recurring party dates?
JW: Party.0 was conceived just like many other great innovations. It starts with a complaint, failure or a “what if” statement. I was complaining to my friend about how it seemed that every college student needed alcohol as an excuse to have fun. As if they had never had a good time without it! After I realized that I was just complaining and that wasn’t going to solve anything, I decided to act on it. I was going to show people that you can have an awesome time without booze by throwing huge “sober parties.”
What was most important to my success in building Party.0 to what it became is my co-founder, Steven Vanevenhoven. We pushed each other, divided up the workload, brainstormed solutions to problems and were a great team. Our sponsors also allowed us to keep throwing consistent parties and offering a variety of fun things to do.
Q: What challenges have you faced both as a young entrepreneur and with Party.0?
JW: The biggest challenge I face as an entrepreneur is the burden. Starting something new that has no template for success leaves a lot of room for failure. These failures are great learning experiences and propel us forward but they are not easy to deal with. Being an entrepreneur means you have to have really thick skin and deal with a lot of stress. We push forward knowing that our company’s mission will positively influence many people’s lives so they don’t have to go through the same difficulties as we did.
Q: What have you learned from the journey so far?
JW: Through this journey I’ve learned that a story is the most important marketing tool any company can have. Learning to tell that story to different audiences and in different settings is a skill that pays off. I’ve learned that no one can do anything worthwhile alone. We need to surround ourselves by positive and creative people in order to accomplish the big things that we choose to go after. For entrepreneurs it’s important to keep in mind that we become like the people we spend the most time with. Finding other entrepreneurs to connect with has been a great part of my development.
Q: What is your vision for Party.0 and your future career?
JW: My goal is to have three new chapters of Party.0 by 2015. So far it looks like it’s going to be UW-La Crosse, UW-Eau Claire and one other. I’m also working on getting the Oshkosh chapter a house to host more frequent and spontaneous events. The biggest challenge in running a successful chapter is finding venues so this would be huge! I’m also working with a new company out of New York that is piloting The Safe Spring Break Initiative, which is a spring break opportunity for college students that is centered around experiences. I hope to get a few Party.0 fans to take the trip and have a great time in Jamaica! We’re also developing a clothing line, starting with five products for students to wear.
My vision is to have chapters of Party.0 all over the country. Each chapter will have their own house to host frequent events and build community around positive choices. Our apparel will be worn by students who are proud to party sober and feel a strong connection with our brand. Every year we will host a Party.0 Conference for people to get together, have fun and share experiences around partying sober.
In short… there are ten million students who don’t drink. We want to let them know that that’s cool.