An MBA’s Approach to Fun
- by Sarah Ryan
What Wharton MBA doesn’t remember some of the fabulous parties they attended back in Philadelphia and wish they could recreate that atmosphere post-graduation? Diego Litjmaer, WG’08, decided that his part-time hobby of running high-end lifestyle events, called Bacanal, was so compelling as a business prospect that he left his job as a financial institutions banker at UBS to grow the business to its full potential.
Diego developed the idea for the business with four other business school friends who were inspired by champagne-fuelled brunch parties in New York that transported the chic Saint-Tropez evening experience to Wall Street’s doorstep during the daytime. These events give high earners with busy lifestyles a chance to let their hair down and party, as well as network with each other, without having to stay out late into the night.
Diego has adopted a unique business approach to the nightlife industry, which is often categorized by money-losing trophy assets. He regularly applies concepts from his business school and banking background to make informed decisions to enable identification of core customers and optimize revenues.
“Working in the party scene at Bacanal is very different from banking, but the fact that I have been a banker has helped as I have applied the knowledge and experience gleaned in my former job to my new career. Like executing an M&A deal, hosting an event involves encountering problems and devising solutions and also offers similar highs, like seeing how much people enjoy the parties we put on,” Diego told me.
Since it launched in March 2010, Bacanal has held two events each month at different venues and each time with different themes. Up to 200 people attend the brunch part of the events, which runs until 3 p.m., while an additional 250 people arrive once the event switches to party mode with live music and dancing from mid-afternoon until early evening. The timing allows those with early starts in their jobs to get home at a sensible hour. Regular events now occur in London and Milan, as well as Ibiza and Saint-Tropez in summer. Future locations could include Dubai, Hong Kong and São Paulo.
Next time you are in London or Milan, reach out to Diego. I am sure he would be more than happy to add your name to the VIP guest list.