Talking Small Biz: His party company shoots from the hip

"In 2012, we did 45 to 60 parties," Darrell Martin, owner of Hip Philly. "We've already booked 40 parties this year." (Michael Hinkelman / Staff)
"In 2012, we did 45 to 60 parties," Darrell Martin, owner of Hip Philly. "We've already booked 40 parties this year." (Michael Hinkelman / Staff)
Posted: February 28, 2013

D ARRELL MARTIN, 46, of Center City, is owner of Hip Philly, an event-entertainment company he started in January 2011. The company operates from a 3,000-square-foot party space at the Piazza at Schmidt's. He also founded an independent dance-music record label in 2001 and is a dance-music recording artist, writer and producer. Several of his tracks hit the Billboard Dance Chart Top 10, including "Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous."

Q: So, what's Hip Philly do?

A: We are a one-stop-shop entertainment company. We're the events company you call when you want a band or DJ for your bar or bat mitzvah, fundraiser or wedding.

Q: You also own a related entity called Hip Parties?

A: We make our big money doing parties outside our venue, including at the Kimmel Center.

Q: What separates Hip Philly from similar companies?

A: We're small enough to cater to our clients on a boutique level. They have options of picking their entertainers and decor. If a guy is doing a fundraiser for SnowBall and wants the whole room transformed into a snow mountain lodge, we can do that.

Q: Who are your typical clients?

A: Most are Main Line ladies looking to do their kids' bar or bat mitzvahs or Sweet 16s. That represents about 60 percent of revenues. Another 30 percent are corporate fundraisers, and the rest would be weddings.

Q: What were 2012 revenues?

A: We were in the $250,000-to-$1 million range. In 2012, we did 45 to 60 parties. We've already booked 40 parties this year.

Q: How many employees?

A: We have 10. Three full time: myself and two sales people. The rest are part-timers who work weekends, staffing parties. Our MCs, DJs and bands are independent contractors.

Q: What do clients pay?

A: We charge about $2,500 for four hours, which includes full access to all our rooms, video screens, a DJ to play for four hours. We subcontract with preferred providers to provide food and drinks. Our venue is for a person who wants a nice space for 100 guests, free parking and doesn't have a huge budget.

Q: What about bigger hip parties outside your venue?

A: Those parties range from $6,500 to as much as $50,000. It all depends on what we're doing. We did a Sweet 16 party at the Kimmel Center last week for 180 kids, 60 adults. A party like that costs $25,000 to $30,000.

Q: How's the biz model work?

A: Our model is called a one-stop-shop party in a box. So someone can come in and get a big loft-like space, do anything they want to it, make it look any way they want and have a great party.

Q: Where do you see Hip Philly in five years?

A: Our goal is to open more venues here. We'll look for commercial space, like old warehouses, that can support digital equipment. If it works here, we'll look at other cities.


On Twitter: @MHinkelman

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