Let’s start with the one-liner – what is your company? What do you sell?
William Petz: Quiet Events
Quiet Events Rents Silent Disco Headphones, organizes public events and hosts Interactive Online DJ Battles
Tell us your origin story.
William Petz: At the young age of 12 William Petz always had an entrepreneurship heart; from setting up an ice tea stand in front of his father’s grocery store in Manhattan or on the corner of his home in Queens, NY for 10 cents a glass to shoveling snow in the wintertime for the neighborhood.
After graduating from Baruch College with an IT degree, he was hired by Lehman Brothers. In just 4 years he earned the title of Vice President and his professional career continued at many other financial banks. However, his passion for owning his company was not lost, as he started his first “real” company called “Random Events”, which taught him the foundation of building a business. It sadly also taught him the legal system due to a bad partnership, however, all valued skills needed to build his next company, “Quiet Events”.
After discovering his mother had cancer, William’s family decided to take one last cruise together. On this cruise, he discovered this party called a “Silent Disco”. It was silly! You would wear headphones and at the time there were two DJs that you can switch between. Upon returning home, he wanted to share this experience with his friends but there was no one doing it. This was the beginning of “Quiet Events”.
After weeks of research, he found a manufacture that could build an even better headphone then he experienced. With three channels and lights indicating which DJ you were listening to, totally changing the experience of the party. Using Random Event’s mailing list of people that were interested in doing things, he hosted his first party in 2012.
The first party was held in NYC at a place called Croton. It took over an hour before any of the 200 people put the headphones on. The concept was odd, weird, and uncool; no one wanted to be the first. So, William and some of his friends had to start the first silent disco dance circle, slowly people put their headphones on. Fast forward to today, where people wait on line for the chance to put headphones on once the doors to the party open up.
Just like any company, Quiet Events technology change as well as the uses for the headphones. Quiet Events does not just throw their own parties, but rents the equipment worldwide for events of thousands at conferences with multiple speakers in the same room, yoga, fitness, outdoor movies, and the original use for a small home party.
In 2020 Quiet Events was on its way to expand to more countries, purchase other companies, and build the next generation of headphones; but that all came to a stop due to Covid-19. No parties, no conferences, no one allowed out of their houses; Quiet Events knew it would need to adapt. In early March; William and his developer built the world’s first online DJ Battle platform. This provided a way for the DJs to make money and keeping everyone entertained while indoors. Quickly drawing hundreds to watch the shows nightly, the tool became another revenue stream for Quiet Events obtaining clients like Spotify, DELL, and NY Parks department to host these virtual battles.
In Mid 2020 as states opened up, Quiet Events saw another spike in their business renting to outdoor bars and fitness classes allowing them to have music and teach in wide-open spaces. In late 2020 William will also be releasing new software for a new TV series entitled “Inner Thoughts” leveraging his Online DJ Battle platform.
William Petz: My first purchase was all bootstrapped. It costs a bit over $20,000 to purchase 300 headphones and get the company fully established.
From the young age of 17, with my first job as a stock boy at CVS, I always did a great job saving as much money as I could. I worked three jobs in high school. In College, I was able to get a paid internship at PwC. After college, I worked for Lehman Brothers, all while still living home with my parents until the age of 32. Needless to say, I saved up a pretty penny as the most expensive thing I had bought was a car.
William Petz: It’s a bit of both. When I started in 2012 the technology wasn’t needed. No one needed to party with headphones on. However, after more and more people were comfortable wearing them, the need was there; so that’s what made me leave my full-time position to do Quiet Events exclusively. My passion has always been creating social events that people would learn something, do something different and have fun, so running a nightlife entertainment events and rental company is defiantly was and still is a passion of mine.
William Petz: The business has evolved in so many ways. We were a small one-man shop in New York that turned into a 20+ person enterprise across the US and Canada. When we started, the core business was selling tickets to our silent disco parties that I created. A few months after, I started to get rental requests. The thought of renting equipment wasn’t even something I had considered as part of our business model.
As we expanded and more people learned about the technology so did the requests. in 2016 most rentals were for your traditional silent disco dance party, we were in the nightlife/party industry. That changed in mid-2016 when a company that put on many conferences like AWS for Amazon wanted to leverage our headphones to create breakout sessions within the same room. This would allow them to save money on buying more rooms, help with the logistics of adjusting sizes if they need to add/remove people, and keeping people together more. After the first event, Quiet Events entered into the Conference and Expo industry being a leader in audio equipment. Because of this industry, we had to create new equipment that did 5,10 and now 45 channels.
In 2020 when COVID hit our business had to change once again. There were no more in person parties or conferences being hosted; so we quickly built an online DJ Battle platform. Quiet Events now was a physical and virtual entertainment company; creating events for large companies like DELL, Spotify, and tons of colleges across the US.
In mid-2020; when some states started opening up; our industry had adjusted once more to health and wellness. We started receiving hundreds of requests from fitness and yoga studios around the country that was allowed to host outdoor classes. Since our equipment does not need power or wifi; and has hookups for music and microphones that can be clipped onto you; it is the perfect solution.
Over the next year as we build out our online events, I think we’ll be evolving once more to a technology company; only time will tell.
William Petz: When you have a product that no one has ever used, heard about, and is counter-intuitive (people go to a club to meet people, but now we are putting headphones on them, so you can’t hear them); your business seems like it’s bound to fail, so almost every moment is a big moment!
In mid-2014 I auditioned to be on Shark Tank the TV series. I made it all the way to the end and even doing a deal with one of the Sharks. However, from the time we did the handshake to the time we were ready to sign (before it aired), our business doubled in revenue. The reason for this was a new venue that we had added; the Bohemian Beer Garden in Queens. A spot that never had a nightlife as it was a place to get some great food, have a beer, and talk around large picnic tables. My father told me to do the party there and I was hesitant as it wasn’t a club and no one was there to dance. However, I still did talk to the General Manager about doing one event. He thought it was a ridiculous concept that wouldn’t work, but he had nothing to lose. To our surprise; when you have 50 people singing and dancing those who didn’t come to dance want to join in. We ended up doing bi-weekly events and as the word got out so did the party size from 50 to almost 1,000 every night. This was our first big moment for the business.
Back to Shark Tank. After I did the handshake with one of the Sharks; I knew it was about to get busy. I put my two weeks’ notice to my current job at Wells Fargo, which I loved working for. However, the deal on the show was that I would do Quiet Events full time. While the success of our parties started to grow so did revenue. The deal we did on the show, just didn’t financially make sense anymore. So even though we did a handshake on the deal, the legal paperwork wasn’t completed. I tried to renegotiate the deal, but it wasn’t possible. Because of this, the episode did not air. However, since I had already left Wells Fargo, I decided to focus on Quiet Events full time; this was our second big moment. The focus on the business allowed us to expand and be even more profitable drawing in an income higher then I was making at Wells.
William Petz: Expansion doesn’t always equal success. Each new location has its own set of challenges and you don’t know what they all are until you start down the path. I have the battle scars with Quiet Events on learning first hand how even opening one location can impact your entire company.
Since we are a rental company, the cost of shipping and the time our equipment is out and can’t be rented again until it’s returned significantly goes up the further away from our headquarters in New York you get. Therefore strategically having an office on the west coast and mid-America made sense. Each office means more staff, more rent, more taxes, more city documents to fill out, more accounting rules, inventory challenges, time zone concerns, triple the supplies, updated training guides, local regulations, and other business-related items that you need to take into consideration. Then there are the personal challenges, if it’s only one person at each office, what if they get sick, take a vacation, or leave and you need to backfill.
Company culture changes with each office as they have different ways of doing things, or even the lingo that they use. You also lose the close team of everyone working together in the same office, soon you have people disconnected from the chit chat and talks that drive direction in a small business. This leads to people feeling left out or the sense of favoritism to those in your HQ. With all of that, you also have to budget in for flights and hotels to spot check these places and ensure things are running smoothly; so it’s it all worth it? Sometimes not.
It’s also possible that the product doesn’t fit with the market. What works in one region may not work in another. We experienced this with our Las Vegas office. Why wouldn’t our silent disco parties work in Vegas? The bright lights.. epic party scene! Well once you realize that locals in Vegas don’t pay for many things as it’s a tourist central town and everyone who’s in Vegas for only 3 days on average for a weekend; it’s not as easy to build a sustainable event business. Therefore we stopped pouring money into getting it to work and opened our central operations for conferences and expos.
We also opened up in Chicago, which was great; but realized that it was only good for parties and not rentals. This is because it was too close to New York and the cost to keep all of the equipment needed and staffing; it was much easier and cost-effective to ship everything out of New York.
We feel that we have the right balance of staff and locations to cover the entire US and Canada with a maximum of 2-day shipping to get equipment back and forth at the best price possible; without losing the company culture or needing excessive inventory. It’s been an eight-year struggle to realize this as your mind thinks more is better in business.
William Petz: No one can do it better then I can!”, this is almost every entrepreneurship’s mentality. It may be true, but there will be a point in your business that you can’t do it all yourself. It took me a while.. a long while to accept this and start to delegate.
A salesperson was my first hire, someone to help with all the requests. I used to look at every request and tell them how to pitch, remind them, and then question how it went. I remember the day that I shut off sales notifications, it was the day that I can say I started becoming a true CEO focusing less on the day to day and more on building avenues for more revenue. “Working on my business and not in my business”
In 2018 I was accepted into the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business program. An amazing program that helps small business owners identify a growth opportunity and in the course of 3 months work with other small business owners to help each other achieve that goal. The hardest part was to take off work for a full day WITHOUT YOUR PHONE! How did this help? I was forced to delegate tasks and the team was willing to take it on. After the class was over, I was able to get more done and my team was happier because they had more responsibility and I had more time to focus.
William Petz: There are not many strategic decisions that I have made that have failed at Quiet Events. Most things are very well strategically planned. However, sometimes you want something so bad that you purposely don’t think of everything that can go wrong.
in 2018 40% of our outdoor events were rained out for our outdoor parties. So I came up with a “brilliant idea” to custom build a huge blow-up igloo that was 70 feet long and 30 feet tall and could fit 200 people with a cutout stage for our DJs. Not only could we have our parties in the rain and snow, but we could rent it out to clients to have their parties in.
What could go wrong? Well, the $12,000 blow-up igloo which by way really was amazing; arrived on a truck. I never bothered to ask how big or heavy the tent would be. To my surprise, it was on a pallet that was 5’x5’x5′ packed tightly (which you know I’ll never be able to pack it that tight again and weighed over 700lbs. This is when I realized I may have made a mistake.
Since we didn’t have a professional hydraulic pallet mover we had to create a pallet with wheels; that cracked once the igloo hit it, issue one. We were able to push it (with 4 guys) into our garage which took a ton of storage space up, issue two. The first time we wanted to try to test it, we couldn’t get it in our van because it was too heavy; so we had to roll out the entire thing and lift sections as we backed up the truck and had 4 guys lift a 3 foot section. Issue 3, realized it how took up the entire van and we didn’t have enough space for any other equipment. Lastly, it was so big that there were only two places we could blow it up to use it, both of those places closed down by the time we were ready to use it. So, I now have a $12,000 huge igloo that we have never used.
William Petz: I am the sole owner and have been since the start of Quiet Events. I have had experience with a partner in the past which ended horribly. I feel like because I had the ultimate decision on what the company does and what we stand for it allows us to be much more dynamic and change quickly to client needs. However, this does put a lot more pressure on me as my decisions have a huge impact on my employees. If things go bad, I’m the only one to blame and it’s not just a job for many; it’s their livelihood.
William Petz: Bootstrapped from the beginning.
William Petz: When I meet a small business owner for the first time, I usually say “I’m sorry to hear that” in a joking manner because they understand that owning a business is amazing, but not without its downsides on all the sacrifices you need to make to see it succeed; especially if you have employees.
In eight years, I have never had a day off of work. Yea, I may travel to a country for a week; but I’m constantly worried about what more can I be doing to generate revenue, how are things running, what needs to be done, are my employees happy, what if this, what taxes are due, should I do something different, what bills are coming up, what if this, what if that…
There are many sacrifices that I have made, but the ones that hurt the most are family, friends, and hobbies. It’s hard to have/keep a relationship when you’re constantly on the phone, worried, traveling, and making sure that your business continues to bring in revenue so you and your employees can eat and have a roof over their and their families heads. This causes a lot of stress on my relationship not only with my girlfriend but family members as well. Not being to be at every family function.
For years prior to Quiet Events, I would host game nights with friends, go bike riding, climbing, or out on the town salsa dancing. This all came to a stop when Quiet Events started to grow because I just didn’t have enough time in the day to do everything. My priority like if you have a child was to my company. I wanted to nurture it and see it grow to succeed without me one day.
William Petz: I get to bring people together from different ages, nationalities, and interests to come together to sing, dance and forget all of their problems for a few hours. Every night there’s someone who comes over and tells me how they didn’t expect how amazing the party would be and can’t wait to come back to the next one.
In these times, especially with everything going on with race; to create an environment that has no judgments is needed.
William Petz: Hands down Sir Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Galactic.
He’s a man who started with very little and built a company that manages multiple verticals and many were industries/products that already existed in the marketplace, but he just made it better. I admire his approach with employees; with the understanding, they are key to his success. Lastly, he lives a sporty “rock star” lifestyle even at the age of 70,
William Petz: I’m always scared! Sounds odd, but it’s my secret weapon. I tackle every problem as it’s new, I am always worried about every decision I make, but that fear helps me ensure I think of everything before I do it. Overconfidence even if it’s something I am aware not to fall habit too. When you’re overconfident you make mistakes, you sometimes lose touch with reality, and sometimes you make the wrong decisions.
If not for this business, what would you be doing as a career right now?
William Petz: I absolutely loved what I did prior to running Quiet Events. I was a Mobile Engineer working with technology companies like Samsung, Apple, and BlackBerry, to build a strategy for large financial institutions to enable their workforce with the tools needed to succeed in that fast past world. I enjoy putting on the suit and tie, chatting with like-minded individuals around the world to discuss, developed, and help build products to make things easier for people.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
William Petz: A retired family man that is consulting to help out other small business owners. When starting a company you need to have an exit strategy in mind. This will help you in your decisions in building the company and investments you make to set you up to succeed. I have worked really hard and in 10 years, I’d like to enjoy how hard I worked. Life is too short not to at least enjoy some of it.
Finish this sentence: “I would not be standing here today if not for ____”
William Petz: Mom and Dad. Before mom passed away from cancer, she always said “Do what makes you happy”; this was her answer for everything. She didn’t care how successful I was, what I did, or who I was with as long as I was happy doing it. She’s the one that showed me to smile, laugh, and have compassion for everyone regardless of who they are. Dad, on the other hand, was hyper-focused on getting a good job, making money, and retire early. He always said, “If you are going to do something do it right”. He taught me dedication and determination, that I could do anything, but only if I worked for it.
What’s one piece of advice that you would give your 18-year-old self?
William Petz: Mom always knows best. I would tell myself exactly what mom always told me “Do what makes you happy”