I made a tough decision over the weekend. I pulled the plug on Sip Social Group, a social club which I co-founded with my friend in May 2007.
Actually, my mind was already made up a few weeks ago, but I wanted to take some time and ponder whether it was really something I wanted to do.
And it is. When I took over as organizer for the dining out group on Meetup.com, I really felt that there was a need in Vancouver for an open, inclusive and fun social group geared towards young professionals. I also wanted to explore Vancouver’s food and restaurant scene, and help promote establishments that truly stand out as being unique and first class.
Initially, we had aspirations of transforming Sip into a business, and we discussed ways that it could be monetized. Membership structures and advertising packages were conceived, with the hope of creating a unique brand that would be synonymous with fun and friendliness – one that could be extended and franchised to other cities.
In total, we held over 30 events at restaurants and pubs in Vancouver, including Irashai Grill, Salt Tasting Room. and Central Bistro. We made a number of great friends at our events, which were well attended and generated positive word-of-mouth – as you know, the most powerful form of marketing. In the end, through Meetup, and group on Facebook, and our mailing list, Sip grew to over 1200 participants – making it one of the largest social groups in Vancouver.
However the reality is, Sip was not poised to generate revenue, not even a minimal amount to justify a part-time venture. In spite of the quality of events we created, and the reputation we garnered, there are just too many free social group alternatives in and around Vancouver. They may not be well-known, in fact part of our goal with Sip was to grow awareness outside of Facebook and Meetup, but their presence made it very difficult for us to even charge a nominal fee for our events.
In the end, with many lessons learned (more than what I can summarize here), the time has come to focus attention elsewhere. In the success literature I have read, over and over again I learned about instances where entrepreneurs failed once, twice, three times and even more before achieving success.
I think Sip taught me a lot. And for that, I am grateful.