Fyre Festival: How a marketing paradise turned out to be the world’s biggest festive disaster

Business How To’s

28 February 2019

Fyre Festival: How a marketing paradise turned out to be the world’s biggest festive disaster

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

To give you a quick recap, the Fyre Festival is one of the biggest failed events the world has seen till date. Conceptualised and established by Billy McFarland, CEO of Fyre Media Inc. (and also of the infamous Magnises startup that gave millennials a chance to live beyond their means; why that seemed like such a great idea no one knows) and rapper Ja Rule.

The festival, scheduled for April 28-30, 2017, on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma, promised a ‘transformative weekend’ and was promoted incessantly by influencers and socialites like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski. Naturally, the promotion got the attention of countless customers who, in their FOMO-driven rush, went ahead and booked tickets that were cheapest at $500 and going up to $1500. VIP packages at $12000 were astonishingly selling like hot cakes too.

So what went wrong really?

In a word, everything.

Fyre Festival goers were expecting a mind-blowing experience when they packed their bags for the weekend to Great Exuma, Bahamas. However, the reality they got was completely different. And the issues started even before they’d left American soil.

Festival goers thought they were signing up for a customised, VIP-configured flight. Instead, they were met with a crowded airport and chaotic, delayed departures.

And the nightmare got worse (as if it could) once they reached the Bahamas.

The party-goers were looking forward to spending two days in luxurious villas and eco-friendly domes. Instead, they were greeted with half-built huts to sleep in.

They were eager to be wined and dined by world-famous gourmet chefs. Instead they had to subsist on cold cheese sandwiches and salads with no dressing, served in makeshift food tents.

The promised line-up never turned up with many artists having cancelled their gig long before the festival, but none of this was conveyed to the customers until they got to the venue.

The crowds were expecting to party with friends for two weekends on pristine white beaches. What they instead did was struggle to just get a flight back home, which ended up becoming another disaster. Guests were stranded at the airport with no food or water, purportedly locked in a room.

Not exactly what the weekend deal was all about, was it?

Why did the Fyre Festival fail?

For starters, the founders really had no experience in organising an event of the scale that they had promised. What made it worse was that they didn’t live up to their commitments long before the festival had even begun.

The event was to have been organized at Norman’s Cay, an island previously owned by Pablo Escobar, a kingpin of the Medellin Cartel, but on the condition of anonymity. This clause was violated in the launch promo itself and the owners pulled out of the agreement. While McFarland was scrambling for alternate locations, the promos continued to mislead fans into believing they were to spend a glorious weekend at this exotic location.

A $4 million loan meant to be utilized for the event was lavished on arranging luxurious offices in Manhattan. And when McFarland approached organisers to help him with an event he had no clue about, he was taken aback to realize how deep his pockets would have to be. The leave-no-survivors internet abounds with rumours that McFarland is said to have Googled ‘how to rent a stage’ when he got desperate.

Comcast Ventures had planned to invest $25 million into the festival, but backed out a few days before, leaving McFarland scrounging for temporary financing, which he needed to payback within 16 days. He managed that by asking customers to transfer funds towards a smartwatch like RFID-equipped digital Fyre Band that would give them unlimited access to the festival. Advisors to the festival warned against this, citing poor Wi-Fi connection at the site, but McFarland in his trademark overpromise-and-underdeliver went ahead with the plans.

The Fyre Festival continued to fail to deliver on every count. There were no medical facilities, accommodation was below par with soaked mattresses, unfinished tents, lack of running water and poor quality food, no cellphone or internet service, and heavy handed security.

Points to ponder

Does the colossal disaster that was the Fyre Festival have any lessons for the rest of the world?

The question that plagues many investors is how McFarland successfully raised millions to fund his program that had massive loopholes in its initial investment deck itself.

How did some of the smartest investors become victims of this fraud? Do influencers play such an influential role that they can sell even the most badly-planned ideas to serious angel investors? Is being part of the ‘next big thing’ so exciting that people don’t bother to run the numbers and refrain from due diligence? Could a massive ‘vision’ have been sold purely on models in bikinis, social media celebrities and beautiful Instagram photos alone?

In hindsight, yes, there were signs, but it was all a smoke-and-mirrors trick that helped McFarland build a massive pile of cash out of nothing. Today he faces 8 lawsuits, with one of them seeking damages of $100 million. Last October McFarland pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 6 years in prison.

And Ja Rule? He was quick to post on Twitter that “it was NOT A SCAM” and “this is NOT MY FAULT”.

While dissecting the fiasco, many news organisations have drawn parallels between the festival and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. The Fyre Festival will be studied for years as an example of how not to invest in a deal with a beautiful yet superficial vision.

Why coworking is one of the best things that can happen to SMEs

Business How To’s

11 December 2019

Why coworking is one of the best things that can happen to SMEs

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

When coworking spaces were first founded about a decade ago, the intent was to support independent workers within an organized set-up. However, over the years, this idea has progressed into a community space that encourages collaborative working for learning and growth.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are a crucial component of the economy, vital for its survival. And like a caped crusader to the rescue, coworking spaces have ensured an equal footing for SMEs in the face of competition from large businesses. Here are three important advantages that coworking spaces offer SMEs:

Scalability and agility

Coworking spaces facilitate quick changes in infrastructure scale to match business volatility. A majority of coworking spaces offer monthly rental plans rather than the long-term leases as offered by traditional office spaces. This monthly plan can be modified according to the performance of your business. You have the flexible option to upgrade or downgrade, i.e., increase or decrease the number of workstations you hire based on your needs.

Long-term leases are binding, cumbersome and not the ideal option for start-ups or SMEs. Without having to worry about such commitments, SMEs can focus on short-term rental expenses, on a month-to-month basis. When the monthly cash flow is not a fixed number, coworking spaces offer office space arrangements that can be adjusted as per your cash flow.

Hiring young talent

For most SMEs, hiring is a huge challenge given that they are not known brands, nor do they have the appeal of start-ups. However, coworking spaces help increase their accessibility, visibility and brand value for job aspirants.

The strategic location of most coworking spaces – often in Commercial Business Districts (CBDs) – help attract young talent who, typically, prefer the brand value of a big company or the exposure of a startup. That apart, coworking spaces with their cross-section of professionals also offer young job aspirants the opportunity to network. This unlocks the promise of endless possibilities for young professionals, who are inspired by the agile and collaborative environment at coworking spaces.

Cost-effectiveness

In an age where renting out furniture, household appliances and even clothes is commonplace, no one wants to pay through their noses for amenities. As far as coworking spaces are concerned, the most value comes from the provision of access to the amenities. The easy functionality of coworking spaces eliminate the need for SMEs to make large capital investments in terms of rentals, housekeeping and the like.

Included into the cost of many coworking space are the advantages of refreshments like coffee, tea, snacks, and office supplies. Additionally, the rental also covers use of costlier items such as printers, online platforms, and other utilities, which need to be upgraded quite often owing to technology changes. Therefore, when it comes to expanding your business operations to other cities and markets, you can simply hire professionals that operate out of a coworking space. This is far easier on the pockets than setting up a new office in a traditional commercial space.

Conclusion

The evolving workplace, in the form of coworking spaces, aid in providing the right resources and infrastructure for SMEs that account for nearly 40% of India’s workforce. With their philosophy of collaborative learning and work that nurtures productivity and creativity, coworking spaces create the perfect environment for business growth.

When mid-sized enterprises choose coworking

Business How To’s

02 December 2019

When mid-sized enterprises choose coworking

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

The adage of ‘two heads being better than one’ is the fundamental principle upon which the idea of coworking was built. The wise proverb may have had its origins in the early 15th century, in the days of the glorious Renaissance where the ‘Bottega’ system existed. Bottega, which roughly translates to the workshop, was the hub of innovation under the watchful eyes of master artists who were at the center of things. Artisans and craftsmen hobnobbed with painters, sculptors, artists, architects, mathematicians, engineers, anatomists, and scientists. They brainstormed together, exchanging ideas and perspectives, devising new artistic forms and techniques. Bottegas, like today’s coworking spaces, were the innovative and collaborative community workplaces of the Renaissance.

The winning premise

Businesses, whether small, medium or big, have people at the helm of it. And often, people find that they can benefit their business through healthy discussions, brainstorming sessions, collaboration and networking opportunities. It is this knowledge that has fuelled the growth of coworking spaces. The environment of a coworking space is created to inspire innovation and more. This global movement of the modern-day workspace, which initially seemed lucrative only for entrepreneurs, has attracted medium and large-sized corporations too.

It was just a matter of time before it became apparent that the benefits of coworking extended towards medium-sized enterprises as well. With considerably more capital, medium-sized enterprises saved big on the flexible, ‘amenities-packed’ and substantially cheaper rentals of coworking spaces.

The unfailing process

Like the famous bottegas, the process of innovation is three-pronged — facilitating dialogue, converting ideas into action, and convergence of diverse verticals on a mutually-beneficial platform. In a coworking space, almost every conversation has the potential to help make new clients, or generate interesting business ideas. The opportunity to sound off your ideas, and express your creativity makes up only part of the picture. In order for innovation to be successful, the ability to collaborate is also crucial, and it is this quality that makes the coworking space a game-changer. This culture of openness, which is conducive for innovation, also guarantees an acceleration in development. This involves networking with resources that are both within and outside of your organization.

In organizations, where established corporate processes are already in place – like in most mid-sized enterprises – the key is to facilitate change by fostering a more open, receptive and creative method of operating your business. The benefits that coworking spaces offer are not simply those that are tangible.  Along with the numerous financial and infrastructural advantages, there are also a host of other less tangible perks. For instance, inspired workspaces for young professionals that nurtures and promotes out-of-the-box thinking, new work practices and a fertile ground for innovation.

The bottom line

The effectiveness of coworking is evident in its success. With a growth rate of 24% annually, by 2022, as estimated by the Global Coworking Unconference Conference, we can expect to see some 30,000 coworking spaces and more than five million coworking members around the world. In India too, the demand for coworking spaces has been increasing at an exceptional scale. Not only among start-ups, but also among medium-sized enterprises keen to capitalize on the innovation advantage of coworking. Just like the Bottegas of the Renaissance period.

Should business leaders trust introverts to drive disruption?

Business How To’s

27 November 2019

Should business leaders trust introverts to drive disruption?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

If it is the fittest that will survive to the end, then as per the Biblical passage, the meek must be fit enough to earn inheritance of the earth. Throughout history, we have been witnesses to opposing – and sometimes ambiguous – blanket statements that have set the norms for social behavior and societal hierarchies.
Leadership is one such thing. Those who are in the position of leadership are looked upon for guidance, direction, and regulation. Successful leadership stems from a strong sense of confidence, which in turn leads to the ability to make key decisions for a group of people. But is there one size that fits all? Along with everything else, and especially in the face of the evolving, modern-day workspace, does this change too?
Challenge conventional thinking
As social animals, we have a tendency to equate capability or the ability to get things done with those who are extroverted. Extroverts seem more confident, energetic, engaging, and highly competent at bringing people together. In a workplace setting, and specifically in the area of disruptive innovation, assertiveness plays an important role.
However, perhaps, it is the traditional identities that need to be disrupted. While being farsighted and performance-driven will always remain relevant, leaders should consider and selectively adopt new identities. According to a thought-provoking research conducted by Adam Grant at the Wharton School, introverted leaders tend to deliver better results. This is because as team members introverts are more likely to participate proactively, and in leadership positions are far more lenient.
Extroverts, on the other hand, are more prone to seek control, which ultimately hampers the potential of the project. Introverts may not fare as well as their more talkative counterparts at pitches, or when it comes to the big-ticket presentations. But, their tolerant and accommodating attitude is conducive to innovation.
When we take a broad view of history, the most innovative people in any field are those who work in solitude. Introverts with their insightful and methodical approach are likely to fare better with data crunching, and data-backed discussions.
The big picture
In any team, it is the strength of the common goal that can inspire and motivate individuals. Introversion or extroversion only dictates the process of working that an individual may adopt based on his or her personality.
Effective leadership lies in finding ways to create unlimited potential with limited resources. That means, to be disruptive, you don’t need to advertise a personality-specific job vacancy or even disrupt your core offering. Business leaders must simply combine utilizing the right resources, along with simple applications, to bring about disruptive innovation. If you want to successfully challenge established businesses, the focus should be on building a unique business model for the market.
To do this, what businesses need are committed teams that can work well when thrown in together. However, brainstorming sessions in groups are viewed as less productive than when individual team members work alone, and then pool in their ideas. Why? This is because such processes bring about a sense of balance within an organization. This balance makes room for both introverts as well as extroverts, allowing both opportunities to foster excellence in an environment that suits them.
When companies create such a system of balance, growth becomes holistic. Through an equal amount of personal and professional development, every team member is empowered to tap into the diverse potential within themselves as well as those around them. And, yes, introverts can drive disruption.