People often come up with great business ideas that are never fully realized. Or worse, an entrepreneur is ready to go full steam ahead on an idea but can't seem to find the right one. Building a business demands a certain level of harmony between creativity and ambition. Gary Berman, founder of Corros, understands this harmony.
Berman has been an entrepreneur for more than two decades, working on ideas like King Pin, a social-based bowling franchise, and Bar Code, an interactive entertainment, food and beverage venue similar to Dave & Busters. His latest venture, Corros, is an event booking platform where party planners and venues can schedule events.
As someone with extensive experience conceptualizing businesses and bringing them to market, Berman said the most important step any business owner can take is full visualizing their plan before they begin.
"The founder has to visualize the entire thing, the whole thing – what it's going to look like and how it's going to work to be part of the process to make that happen," Berman said. "If you can't visualize it, if you can't see it working – you can't build it."
Berman says he found inspiration from Gary Player, famed South African golf legend, who said he would visualize every single shot before a pro tournament. This mean that when things went astray, he knew how to get back on track.
The core of Berman's business is based on automating the booking process. Corporations and party planners need to find good venues to host events, but the analog process of finding an event, listening to their offering and deciding if it's a good fit can take weeks.
"It's a nightmare process, and forget about how long it takes you to just get one event in order," Berman said. "Imagine if you want to lay out three or four and choose one – forget about that you're not going to be able to do that."
Berman's goal is to provide a platform where users can shop for venues, whether a 14-person dinner party or a 50-person corporate event. Corros has all the details – atmosphere, food, entertainment, beverages, service – so users can choose what they want for their event, compare between offerings and the decide on the best one.
Berman's background led him to this idea. As a vice president at Warner Bros., he saw how integral parties are to the business experience. As an entrepreneur, he found corporations and other big parties constantly reaching out to set up events at venues he owned.
Over time, the idea for Corros began to solidify – instead of pairing an untrained venue staffer with an inexperienced planner, a platform with set options can facilitate the transaction. Berman reached his idea for Corros by staying aware as he moved through his career.
"With any new customer coming in, first of all I had to spend a lot of time training my staff on how to sell, how to provide the information how to get the info back -- it was a totally manual process," he said.
Once he came up with the idea to automate it, thus saving venues labor and training costs and making it more intuitive for users, he started taking steps toward visualizing his business "in its totality."
This involved what some would deem an old-fashioned approach – he plotted out the flow of the Corros platform on pen and paper. These diagrams allowed him to work out the business end of his idea: How would the user move through his program? How would the information flow?
This proved to be a valuable business practice. When it came time to automate the process, Berman had to partner with a tech firm, which presented some challenges.
"I don't have a tech background, so I had to really learn and get up to speed because I quickly found out there were as many people who don't know what they're talking about as there are that do," he said.
Berman said that some of the companies he worked with tried to focus on gathering customer information and other important data. Berman wasn't focused on this and pushed back.
"Every designer I went to would build an information page where you put your name, email, date of the event, number of people, maybe budget and the type of food," he said. "[That's] crazy because … you just want to see what the place has to offer, you don't even know if you want to go there."
Similarly, he said many of the companies he worked with were focused on the front-end design as opposed to the backend database. Berman saw the value in the backend database: Corros would be a platform where restaurants and venues with completely different offerings could be organized and viewed efficiently. Focusing on the front-end user experience, at first, would create an empty skeleton where the original problem remained to be solved.
By fully fleshing out his idea before going to technology companies and other collaborators, Berman was able to stay on course just like Gary Player. The result is a platform that's being used by venues across the country to make booking and price quoting easier. As the company grows, Berman is aiming on extending its presence beyond the select venues currently using it and out to all consumers.
Staying focused and on task when running a business can be difficult, and toeing the line between staying open to new ideas and knowing when to push ahead with your own vision can be one of the toughest challenges. Berman takes his businesses one step at a time and doesn't fold on the details he feels are most important.
"Remain true to your objective," he said.