Party Planning in an App

July 7, 2022
Mike Petrakis, '13, built an app that addresses the pain points of planning group travel.

Mike Petrakis changed the trajectory of his life during the three months he was recovering from a neck injury. As a former member of the University of Richmond cross country team, Petrakis was an active sophomore until he broke his neck in a snowboarding accident and had to relearn to walk again. He used the time to reassess his focus and became passionate about entrepreneurship.

“I wanted to be the master of my own domain,” Petrakis shared. “I was very focused on marketing and advertising, but started dabbling in startup projects and reading a lot about entrepreneurship and innovation.”

He gained experience post-college by becoming the first hire at a tennis apparel brand, BOAST. Petrakis led marketing and sales and helped build the company from $0 to a multi-million dollar enterprise in three years. He then went on to start a lifestyle apparel brand named WOLACO, where he revenue funded the business from the ground up as well and it continues to grow today. His passion and scrappiness led him to his interest in Brooklyn Athletic Club where he helped grow his neighborhood gym and became an owner in the process.

Six years after graduation, and with valuable entrepreneurial experience to draw upon, Petrakis launched BACH, a group travel app for planning bachelorette trips. After joining fellow Richmond alumni on a bachelor trip, Petrakis left the experience with a lot of memories and an idea. “You have so much fun on these trips, but you’re spending a lot of time and money on them as well,” he said. “There had to be an easier way to plan.” 

Petrakis and COO of BACH Sarah Sprague wanted to solve the major pain points behind group trips and designed an app that helps plan itineraries, book experiences, split expenses, and chat and share with other group members.   

BACH launched in 2020 when COVID-19 severely disrupted the travel industry. Petrakis and Sprague doubled down, using the time to gather data and build BACH’s marketplace, securing over 850 vendors across ten cities ranging from party buses, yacht charters, ATV tours, and nightlife table service reservations. 

“We use data as a roadmap for all our decisions,” Petrakis said. Since its launch, BACH has grown from four to 30 employees and has been used to plan over 30,000 parties in Nashville alone, its most popular destination. But growing demand in Scottsdale, Ariz., has turned their attention west with over 12,000 parties planned this year. “Ten cities address 55% of the bachelorette market. It is a very consolidated marketplace approach,” he shared. 

“Our team is completely remote, but we come together two times a year,” Petrakis said. Many times, team members travel to destination cities to experience potential offerings or recruit additional vendors. “I built an app that people use to have fun and party, but I prefer a more outdoorsy experience,” he said. Petrakis’ ideal destination is Austin, Texas, noting the lowkey vibe, food scene, and outdoor experiences.

With all its success, Petrakis said the organization will continue building its marketplace and products to apply to different forms of group travel in the future—from bachelor trips and girls’ getaways to ultimately becoming the de-facto platform that millennial and gen-z groups use to plan and book group travel. 

“I’ve had amazing learning opportunities, but it has also required a lot of hard work, luck, and endurance,” Petrakis said. “Building something from the group up is hard. Startups have been my entire career path and they usually aren’t straightforward, but while you’re young and can afford to take the risk, do it.”

BACH is available to download in the iOS App Store and on Google Play.

*Image credit TechCrunch