Hey there Viper Girls, Introduce yourself to our readers. .
We are Celeste Durve and Kelsi Kitchener and we own VIPER by KCH.
We’re an all female front of house operations team for events and venues; which means we run the doors of all the high end, A-list parties in LA and manage guest experience.
We do about $30k in sales a month (though this number ebbs and flows) and were currently in our first round of funding.
What’s are your personal backgrounds. How did you discover this business?
We met while interning for a nightlife company called Bolthouse productions. We both were interested in production. Celeste wanted to produce events and Kelsi wanted to produce fashion shows. While interning and working as freelance production assistants, we were often asked to help manage the guest check in process at events.
One night in late 2015 we bumped into each other at a huge party we were both hired for and decided to start a “side hustle” where people could enlist us to oversee their guestlist/guest check in portion of their event and we would bring on our friends and take a small booking fee.
This is how VIPER was born. We came up with the name VIPER because it stood for VIP Event Relations but now our team is known across Hollywood as “the VIPER girls” which we don’t mind! 🙂
What went into designing the initial product? Can you take us through the actual process?
Since we don’t sell a product its a little different for us but we did design a service and a brand.
We hired and trained a team and put together steps of service for a high quality experience to show to our clients.
It took a lot of trial and error and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. We failed countless times and had to continually re-evaluate how to make our business more fluid and efficient.
How did you launch your business. Take u through the steps..
After creating the concept we hired a lawyer to incorporate us.
Then we created some social media accounts and hired a graphic designer to make us a website and capabilities deck.
We blasted the deck to everyone we knew in the industry and started promoting that we had launched something. We gave discounts to many of our first customers to demonstrate our service and through that we slowly started gaining more clients and becoming more well known.
Do you have repeat customers? Can you take us through how you attract and retain customers?
Pretty much 95% of our clients are repeat.
We retain clients through maintaining high quality service and being easy to work with. We also take clients out to dinner or drinks and get to know them to build sustainable relationships.
What is the current situation. How do you see yourself in the next 12 months?
Currently we are in our first round of funding and hoping to expand into Vegas within the next year. We are also adding a new division to the company of atmosphere models.
As a woman founder, do you see this as only financially uplifting? Or otherwise too? If yes, then how?
This is definitely more about passion than it is about money.
We of course want the money but the journey of being a startup is not inherently fruitful. We are self funded and over the last 3 years have experienced many challenging battles, most of them financial related. Raising money is not easy and neither is paying the bills as a work for hire based business.
Neither founder comes from money; so to begin, we each threw in about $800 and since then we have just reinvested money from sales back into the company and have barely taken salaries outside of necessity as founders.
But we wouldn’t trade it for anything.
We both always knew we wanted to work for ourselves and we are thankful for being able to build our dream company no matter how tough it gets some times. We have learned so many valuable lessons and created a really incredible network in the process and those things are definitely uplifting.
We also built a lasting partnership and have created a family with one another and our team. And those are some reminders that we are in the right space even if money is sometimes challenging as we scale.
What tools or services did you use?
Aside from that we live by google sheets and docs so that we can easily share files.
Which are some resources, books, articles or podcasts that have been useful to you, and would share with your readers.
We are both huge readers but we don’t limit our intake of books or podcasts to only business related content.
For podcasts, we love Oprah Super Soul. We believe spirituality is a big part of our business because it has a lot to do with who we are as founders.
Many a times, women feel that businesses are for only for men. What’s your take?
We, of course, couldn’t disagree more!
Starting a business is hard for either sex but I think women do an incredible job at running companies, and were thrilled that we are starting to see more women launch business endeavors.
Women are smart, capable, and strong. We’re good at communicating and we take care of each other.
Personally, we would challenge every company to bring women to their boardroom and see how their dynamic improves.
Looking to kick start your own venture?
Hi ! This is Misha
I interview women founders building profitable businesses
My idea is for other women to get inspired by these actionable tell all stories and start their own profitable enterprises.
I am hugely inspired by inspirational interview series starters like IndieHackers, StarterStory by Pat Walls, Failory, SpaceBandits and have put significant efforts in reaching out to women founders in order to gt started.