Jared Gordon and Jesse Wilson, MBA Class of 2005
When Jesse Wilson and Jared Gordon met at Stern’s Welcome Days in August of 2003, they had no idea where they would end up 11 years later. Frankly, they didn’t like each other very much. Jesse was from the San Francisco Bay Area, and Jared was from the East Side of Manhattan. There was, you might say, some cultural friction.
This friction dissipated, and a friendship grew, in large part over a shared love of good drinks. As Jesse completed his studies and pursued his career in financial planning and analysis, and Jared went into investment banking, they not only grew to be good friends, but frequently discussed their dissatisfaction with the corporate world.
Through both school and their jobs, they had harbored thoughts of entrepreneurship. But they were seeing it through the lens of popular culture. In the late 90s and 2000s, to be entrepreneurial was to be on the web. If you didn’t have a dot-com, it frankly didn’t matter much what you did. Brick and mortar was dead. It was either the white-collar service sector or an internet start-up, and neither of them were computer aficionados.
During and after their time at Stern, they shared and heard frequent frustrations with the nightlife options available. When it came to having drinks with friends or at corporate gatherings (whether they were being recruited or recruiting), there were few good options. There was and is a proliferation of loud, crowded venues, which everyone decries, yet attends weekly. In part to counter that, and in part to answer the demand for a more bespoke, personal evening, the mixology and cocktail dens started growing in the early 2000s, but they also had a very structured feel.
It was only after Jared made the decision to leave banking that they realized the market opportunity, and the entrepreneurial path, that had been in front of them. Each drink that was spilled on them at a crowded bar, each conversation that they struggled to hear over deafening noise, was telling them how to improve on the existing marketplace. The signs were there. They had just ignored them, because the signs didn’t fit into the framework of “entrepreneurship” to which they had been accustomed.
Once they put down their prejudice, they saw the industry in a whole new light. The loud pubs and Irish bars in the city are the commodity goods. The nightclubs and mixology dens are the luxury goods – available, but to a more select group and at a higher price. What they sought to occupy is the middle market. Analogue offers a luxury product, at a price point that differentiates without excluding. There is a distinct brand identity, and a growing following. The bar appeals to a number of audiences: those weary of being herded through velvet ropes or bumped in crowded bars, the cocktail enthusiasts, the lovers of jazz, and the people who are simply looking for a relaxed and elegant evening wherein they can catch up with friends. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from all of the groups above.
The advice they’ve given others who asked is simple: Keep your eyes and ears open. Any time you find yourself asking why someone is doing something a given way, think about how you’d do it. When it came down to it, they surprised themselves at the simplicity of their business plan. “Build a place where they’d want to have a drink.” And to keep it going required not eviscerating the competition or undercutting them, but simply providing a quality product at a reasonable price. As Jared is fond of saying: “We’re not doing anything differently than anyone else; we just have to do it better than them.”
Analogue is nearing its one-year anniversary, and is going strong. The most commonly heard statement from customers is “where has this bar been my whole life?” Well, it was waiting for someone to read the signs and take action.