Carrie and Daniel Himel are not only entrepreneurs, but are married. About ten years ago, they started their first business venture together, which turned out to be a huge success. After they worked on a few separate businesses, they decided to start an event called Middle School Match-up, which is a baseball tournament for Middle Schoolers.
You get this idea for an event, what are your first steps in putting this all together? It wasn't giant to start, and it did start as an idea. It started as an idea because in Texas football is super huge, but they had a baseball player. Their son was entering middle school, which can be such a hard time anyway. Here he was this really great athlete, but no one cared because he wasn't playing football. So they got the idea to start showcasing baseball players to help enhance the middle school experience. They talked about it for more than a year, hoping someone else would do it.
About a year later, they finally decided that if it was going to happen, they needed to do it. Daniel started a website to create an interest list. They quickly saw interest, and their first tournament had 275 kids. From the idea to actually moving with this, they had six weeks. From the start, they just pulled the trigger, validated the idea, and made it happen. It started taking off really quickly.
Last year they had 1200 kids, and this, their third year will have over 2,000!
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You have six weeks to make this happen, how did you put it all together? It was very chaotic. They used Google Docs, and simple website strategies. Carrie had a lot of connections in the community, which helped. As soon as they got over the shock at how quickly this was going to happen, they were able to get others to help and put it all together. They did signs in school and carpool lanes, Facebook Ads, the baseball community. They hired someone to be a tournament director and used his connections to get the fields. They used some key players to tweet it out. It then started to snowball.
When it came to hiring the director, they worked on a revenue sharing deal, so they didn't have to put out the money to hire someone. Now he has a part of the business too.
What are some lessons learned that you rolled from year one to two? The number 1 thing they did in year one was just to wow the participants socks off. Anywhere they could go above and beyond, they went. They did everything they could to make it amazing. They went with the thought to make it the best baseball tournament they would ever attend. They asked for testimonials as soon as it was finished. They got testimonials that they never imagined, about the confidence this tournament built for the kids.
They attempt to improve their systems every year. They do what they can to stay lean. They use all the interest stuff that they could possibly do. They use Google Docs for collaboration. They bought some tournament software. They're all about constantly improving the systems to make them better.
Then when it came to vendor selection, they continually are trying to find the best products for the best deals. They can be pickier about who they're selecting.
Talk a little about the business model. They make money from the fees and sell products. They're growing across, not just Texas, but across the nation, so will have that income. They're also looking at avenues of helping their players to also create income all year round.
Talk about expansion, how are you making sure the quality remains? The plan is to have a franchise model, without a franchise model. They'll be hiring directors for each city, but will also be extremely picky about who they hire. They will work on coaching and training them and making sure they understand the model. They don't 100% know how they're going to do it, but the point is, they're going to do it and see from there.
What's the key to success being a couple-preneur? Sometimes the shut down is hard because they love their businesses so much. They do make specific time to just have fun and turn the business part off. They make a conscious decision to turn it off at some points.
In working together, they have signals. They share a desk, and it can be a bit crazy in the house. Their office has curtains, so when someone is working and trying to get stuff done, the curtains are closed. If those are closed, they don't get interrupted. They also use headphones. So if Carrie comes in and Daniel has headphones in, she knows not to interrupt him until the headphone are off.
From an event perspective, what do you wish you would have known? How awesome it was going to be or how much fun it was going to be. They would have started a year earlier had they known. It's a lot easier than they thought it was going to be. Plus events are great for couple-preneurs because they have a start and end date. You can touch every aspect of entrepreneurship and start to get your feet wet on how you're going to work together. It can be the first annual and the last annual. Plus events can impact a lot of people.
[ctt tweet="I wish I would have known how awesome this was going to be, and how much fun it was going to be. #podcast http://ctt.ec/4gJbT+" coverup="4gJbT"]
What do couples need to have in order to make this happen? Early on, make sure you diagram what will this business will be in five years, and make sure you write and define the roles. Circle who is going to do what, to keep you from overlapping. You don't want to be in a place where you're doing the same work. Find the best use of your time, and trust someone to take over some stuff. Plus it will guarantee things won't fall through the cracks.
Where can people find you? They do have an upcoming podcast called Power Couple Secrets, which should be out at either the end of September or beginning of October. You can also go to MiddleSchoolMatchup.com or find them on Facebook. DanielandCarrie.com is also another spot.
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