Monday Q&A: Entrepreneurs are gung-ho about their gig

An interior designer and a player in the local publishing industry have teamed up to take the guesswork out of finding the best Richmond has to offer.

In May, Kelly Brown of Kelly Brown Interiors and Christian Detres launched Gungho Guides: maps of the best shops, services, cafes, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues in the city.

BizSense met with Brown and Detres to find out how they pick the spots, how they came together and their plans for expansion.

Below is an edited transcript.

Richmond BizSense: Where did the idea for Gungho Guides come from?

Kelly Brown: I moved here from San Diego. When I went back to visit friends a couple years ago and came across a guide there called Urbanist, I thought, “I wish I had something like this when I moved to Richmond.”

It sat on my coffee table for a while, and finally I said, “I’ll do it.” I started doing research and hired a graphic designer.

I was designing a room for a major client last year and put the guide on the back burner. All the pieces were there. The only missing component was the sales aspect.

RBS: How did you get the project back on track?

KB: In January, I was getting my hair cut, and my stylist said I really needed to meet Christian Detres and that he had worked for Vice Magazine and helped start RVA Magazine.

Christian ended up contacting me, and I realized he was the missing component.

Christian Detres: I’ve always enjoyed finding and discovering places and getting to the heart of what makes a place cool, exciting and fun. I thought what Kelly was presenting was purely positive. Kelly was my missing link to have a project engrossing enough for me to get involved with.

RBS: Where does your revenue come from?

CD: Display ads on the guide and advertising on the website. The listings in the guide are free and are completely curated by us. We pick 120 businesses in Richmond, and from there we contact those businesses and see which ones want to buy a display ad in the guide.

We update the listings once year, as some business may have closed or new ones have opened that we want to include.

Advertising has no bearing on the editorial, if you are not on the list, you can’t buy your way into it. But advertising on the website is open to business not on the list.

RBS: Why set the number of listings at 120?

KB: A lot of it is paper restraints. It is meant for tourists, and we don’t want to overwhelm them, either.

CD: It is hard. There are a lot of really good businesses that my friends own that aren’t in the guide. We had to cut it down from a list of 250.

RBS: How many copies of the Richmond guide did you have printed?

KB: Forty-five thousand.

RBS: I hear you are about to release a Gungho Guide for Charlottesville. Are there other cities in the works?

KB: We are launching Charlottesville in November. From there, we are looking at smaller to midsize cities like Charleston, Savannah and Knoxville.

RBS: What are your criteria for earning a spot in the guide?

CD: We want to appeal to the urban adventurist. The guide is meant to take the place of a knowledgeable insider friend that has been living in town forever and knows all the best spots.

No one is getting in the guide on just one factor. We aren’t out to list every dive bar or every fine dining restaurant but the best of those: The best dive bar. The best fine dining restaurants.

RBS: Do you worry that you might be too selective?

CD: We are unabashedly opinionated. In this market, a lesson I learned that the media here tend to be very polite. And that is fine, but I think it is very valuable to have a media vehicle speak its mind and mean what it says.

We want to congratulate people that have gone the extra mile or executed a brand vision quite well.

An interior designer and a player in the local publishing industry have teamed up to take the guesswork out of finding the best Richmond has to offer.

In May, Kelly Brown of Kelly Brown Interiors and Christian Detres launched Gungho Guides: maps of the best shops, services, cafes, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues in the city.

BizSense met with Brown and Detres to find out how they pick the spots, how they came together and their plans for expansion.

Below is an edited transcript.

Richmond BizSense: Where did the idea for Gungho Guides come from?

Kelly Brown: I moved here from San Diego. When I went back to visit friends a couple years ago and came across a guide there called Urbanist, I thought, “I wish I had something like this when I moved to Richmond.”

It sat on my coffee table for a while, and finally I said, “I’ll do it.” I started doing research and hired a graphic designer.

I was designing a room for a major client last year and put the guide on the back burner. All the pieces were there. The only missing component was the sales aspect.

RBS: How did you get the project back on track?

KB: In January, I was getting my hair cut, and my stylist said I really needed to meet Christian Detres and that he had worked for Vice Magazine and helped start RVA Magazine.

Christian ended up contacting me, and I realized he was the missing component.

Christian Detres: I’ve always enjoyed finding and discovering places and getting to the heart of what makes a place cool, exciting and fun. I thought what Kelly was presenting was purely positive. Kelly was my missing link to have a project engrossing enough for me to get involved with.

RBS: Where does your revenue come from?

CD: Display ads on the guide and advertising on the website. The listings in the guide are free and are completely curated by us. We pick 120 businesses in Richmond, and from there we contact those businesses and see which ones want to buy a display ad in the guide.

We update the listings once year, as some business may have closed or new ones have opened that we want to include.

Advertising has no bearing on the editorial, if you are not on the list, you can’t buy your way into it. But advertising on the website is open to business not on the list.

RBS: Why set the number of listings at 120?

KB: A lot of it is paper restraints. It is meant for tourists, and we don’t want to overwhelm them, either.

CD: It is hard. There are a lot of really good businesses that my friends own that aren’t in the guide. We had to cut it down from a list of 250.

RBS: How many copies of the Richmond guide did you have printed?

KB: Forty-five thousand.

RBS: I hear you are about to release a Gungho Guide for Charlottesville. Are there other cities in the works?

KB: We are launching Charlottesville in November. From there, we are looking at smaller to midsize cities like Charleston, Savannah and Knoxville.

RBS: What are your criteria for earning a spot in the guide?

CD: We want to appeal to the urban adventurist. The guide is meant to take the place of a knowledgeable insider friend that has been living in town forever and knows all the best spots.

No one is getting in the guide on just one factor. We aren’t out to list every dive bar or every fine dining restaurant but the best of those: The best dive bar. The best fine dining restaurants.

RBS: Do you worry that you might be too selective?

CD: We are unabashedly opinionated. In this market, a lesson I learned that the media here tend to be very polite. And that is fine, but I think it is very valuable to have a media vehicle speak its mind and mean what it says.

We want to congratulate people that have gone the extra mile or executed a brand vision quite well.

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Jeremy
Jeremy
10 years ago

I love to hear that they are coming out with a guide for this city, but I would question the their ability to find the pulse out hot spots in other cities. Also.she says right off that she wanted to fit more of her friends businesses on the list but they wouldn’t fit. This is what I feel like destroys start ups like this (not to mention creditable referral companies), they didn’t do market research to find the best that richmond has to offer, they made a list of their friends businesses.

Carter Snipes
Carter Snipes
10 years ago

Way to go, Kelly! keep up the good work!

Charles
Charles
10 years ago

Good idea, but I worry about the size of the list… Given the rise of smartphones, why not go online only? Too many of the freebie guides ive seen have been utterly worthless

Brett
Brett
10 years ago

Cool idea, but don’t the hotspots just end up being the places that are willing to advertise?

Christian Detres
Christian Detres
10 years ago

First off, thanks Carter! Second thanks to everyone else curious enough about the project to respond to the article. Jeremy, if it wasn’t clear in the interview let me explain. What we were saying was that if the list were longer, other businesses that we LIKE would have been able to fit. I know a lot of small business owners in town and, yes, it’s been heartbreaking when we’ve been forced to make a decision to exclude someone’s project we appreciate due to inclusion of aNOTHer business we felt deserved the honor more – regardless of our prior relationships with… Read more »

Jeremy
Jeremy
10 years ago

First, I wanted to apologize. I should have started my comment off with a congratulations! A start up is never easy and always takes a lot of work and experience, not to mention money. I really do wish you the best of luck and I hope it takes off like a rocket! However, you did say, ” It is hard. There are a lot of really good businesses that my friends own that aren’t in the guide. We had to cut it down from a list of 250″. That was what I was commenting on, but with your rebuttal taken… Read more »

Designed4Startups
Designed4Startups
10 years ago

Christian – very nice response and clarification… You focus on getting out there and making it happen and adjust as needed. Cheers to the two of you!

Glenn Lock
Designed4Startups.com
[email protected]