Sramana Mitra: What did you want to do with it though? What was the concept? What concept were you trying to execute on?
Trevor Traina: I had observed a number of things after 2008. I had observed that my friends and people I knew were less and less interested in buying more physical things and were directing their spend and time towards experiences — experiential living. What I realized was that while there are many wonderful marketplaces for physical things, there really was not a place where you could go and shop for experience. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to create the first true marketplace for experiences rather than things?”
Sramana Mitra: What would you categorize as an experience?
Trevor Traina: Experience, obviously, can be something in-person — meeting a band after the concert, cooking with the same chef, playing tennis with a famous tennis player. An experience can also be having a memorabilia or a special insight. It could be a variety of things beyond just an in-person thing. At IfOnly, we sell a collection of chocolates that were designed by some of the world’s most famous chefs that are unique to us and that you could never buy anywhere else. To us, that box of 21 different chocolate is an experience.
Sramana Mitra: How do you find these experiences? What is the mechanism to curate these experiences? This, by the way, is something I am interested in as a consumer. Let’s hear your pitch to me as a consumer.
Trevor Traina: I have a team of people who are experts in their areas. They spend all their time thinking through how to locate and curate the world’s top talents. My food person is a nationally known food critic. My sports person ran all athlete relations for EA. My tennis person did all the tennis player sponsorship for Reebok. I have a team of experts who have access. We use their access to benefit consumers.
Sramana Mitra: What about price points? Obviously, you could provide different experiences at different price points. How have you decided on where you’re going to focus your experiences?
Trevor Traina: That is a great question. For a number of strategic reasons, we decided that it was very important to start at the top with only the most amazing people and only the most amazing experiences. When you’re building a brand, you can always go downmarket, but you can never go upmarket.
Sramana Mitra: That’s true.
Trevor Traina: We started with Shakira, Madonna, Kobe Bryant — the most famous people with the understanding that we could always go downmarket. That was important as a foundation for the brand. We think all day long about how we can create that feeling of a unique or special experience at every price point.
Sramana Mitra: To gain customers, you want something that are experiences at a lower price point to start establishing trust and customer relationship even if these same customers are going to buy more expensive experiences.
Trevor Traina: Yes. We work with a lot of top bands like Soundgarden and Chris Cornell. For $50,000, you can own his Harley Davidson. For $1,000, you can meet the band after the concert. What about people who love Soundgarden but who don’t have the budget? For a $125, you could get a signed set list. For $25, you can buy a guitar pick, which they hand signed. That’s still something that you couldn’t get anywhere else. It’s something they held in their hands and signed personally. It’s special, unique, exciting, but it’s still affordable.
Sramana Mitra: What other categories of experiences are we talking?
Trevor Traina: We do food, wine, golf, tennis, sports, music, entertainment, fashion, adventure, chess, poker — lots of different categories.