Bryce Krausman | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Bryce Krausman


House Seats is a subscription-based service headquartered in Las Vegas offering customers access to free tickets to local shows and other events. In addition to Las Vegas, House Seats operates in Sacramento, Austin, San Antonio, San Francisco and Arizona, as well as in Canada. Owner Bryce Krausman's other properties include DW Bistro, a trendy off-Strip Las Vegas restaurant serving Jamaican-New Mexican fusion cuisine for lunch, dinner, and an always-popular brunch.

The Mistake:

Moonlighting as a restaurant owner. It has been a balancing act for these seven years that I've been doing DW Bistro alongside House Seats. A restaurant is backbreaking work, and even after 12 years, House Seats is still a startup. That's been the biggest challenge: balancing both unique businesses.

The two brands are one and the same in how you treat people, but they're definitely different. With the restaurant, the customers are right there in front of you all the time. From the moment you unlock the doors until you lock them again, you're "on." With House Seats, you can be in your pajamas replying to emails and no one knows or cares.

I lost a few people at the restaurant recently so I had to go back in there and play manager for a month straight. I would close the door there at night, along with running House Seats. That was definitely a challenging month. But when you're an entrepreneur and have a vision [for a business], you need to see it through 100 percent and keep people held to that.

In the beginning, it was just me and my founding chef running DW Bistro. We didn't really get management until a couple of years in, so it was pretty tough to run the restaurant and House Seats at the same time. But that's where my business career took a turn and showed me what I'm capable of.

Everyone is willing to help you out when you are vulnerable enough to ask.

The Lesson:

First, I moved the businesses closer to each other. After we moved [the restaurant] into the Gramercy, the House Seats offices are just upstairs in another building in the Gramercy, so I am able to go upstairs and work there then go back downstairs to work at the restaurant.

And we have built in a cross-promotion between the two brands: One of the shows that we had done in 2010 with House Seats was a brand new partner and the show didn't want people to come pick up their tickets at their venue. We were scrambling trying to figure out where our members were going to pick up these tickets. We really had never done anything as a company, like inviting our members to a company function. We had never done a House Seats party with House Seats members.

It was a substantial number of tickets we were giving away and we were trying to figure out where we could host these people. The restaurant was due to open in five days, so we decided to have them come to DW. We gave them a little bite of DW food and we gave people their tickets along with a copy of the menu and gift certificates inviting them to come back to DW. We automatically built a loyalty and a cross-section of customers from Las Vegas. When you're a House Seats member and you refer six people to the site, you get a $75 gift certificate to eat at DW.

It also comes down to having a really good team around you. I couldn't do this without great people. It's a definite team effort for all this.

Finally, if you don't know something, and before you do anything, ask for help. Everyone is willing to help you out when you are vulnerable enough to ask. You have to surround yourself with business confidants because at some point you have to make hard decisions, and you need to either have a good team around you or be vulnerable enough to listen to others before you make a decision.

Follow House Seats on Twitter at @houseseats and DW Bistro at @DWBistro.

Photo provided by Bryce Krausman

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