Dynamic duos: PJ Hoberman and Casey Berry
They've changed Denver’s entertainment landscape with hip urban events
(Editor's note: This is one of ColoradoBiz's “dynamic duos” of Colorado business, who reflect on their working relationships, what brought them together and where they’re going.)
PJ Hoberman and Casey Berry
Five years ago, Casey Berry and PJ Hoberman were “set up on a blind date,” meeting just around the corner from Coors Field at a dive bar over beers.
“We just clicked,” Berry recalls. Giving up on his practical plan to attend law school, he stood at the intersection of events and content, eager to encourage Denverites to expand the exploration of their city. Hoberman was a traditional nine-to-fiver with a beer habit: He was a self-taught home brewer and the rest of his free time was swallowed up by the launch of Denver Off the Wagon, a digital booze news outlet.
It didn’t take long before their collective idea resulted in Two Parts. Hoberman quit his day job three months after that hole-in the-wall meeting, partnering with Berry to change Denver’s entertainment landscape with local craft-beer-centric signature and collaborative events. They've since expanded to Boulder, Fort Collins and 10 more cities around the country and have embraced food and coffee beyond the original boozy focus.
“Festivus showed us that what we were doing could make money,” Hoberman says of their first small success. Berry adds: "We learned an event with authenticity could bring the people. With the people meant revenue through ticket sales, sponsors and vendors."
“I think they’ve tapped into a new kind of event for a very hip, urban audience that didn’t exist before,” says Jesse Davis, director of PR and communications for VISIT DENVER, the city’s tourism arm which has partnered with Two Parts for Collaboration Fest and other cultural programming.
Five years and eight full-time employees later, Hoberman says the startup grind is finally letting up, at least a little. The pair plans to double their staff in 2017, and introduce more events. The name-change (formerly Imbibe Events) took place early in 2016 because “a lot of people don’t know what the word imbibe means,” Hoberman admits. As they expand their clientele, finding themselves in more buttoned-up meetings with boards of directors and corporate types, “we wanted a name that was unique enough and universal.”
The new name also represents the twosome themselves.
“Being able to share the weight of running a business, sharing the anxiety, was really helpful,” Berry says of his professional partnership. He calls Hoberman his brother.
“I see PJ more than any person on the planet,” Berry says. “And we haven’t killed each other yet.” He says he is most proud of Hoberman’s ability to build a website without any formal training. “It’s beyond my comprehension and it saves the company hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
When asked what impresses Hoberman about Berry, he says he never complains.
Berry says the business is inherently personal. “It’s a social and experience-driven company. It’s often hard to separate ourselves from it.”
However, that personal touch is perhaps a least one part of their special sauce.
LINKEDIN PROFESSIONAL HEADLINE:
PJ: “Co-Owner and Janitor at Two Parts”
CASEY: “Founder at Two Parts”
PJ: Data, technology, HR, operations, accounting
CASEY: Design, marketing, front-end of events, branding
Both: “We overlapped in everything that startups need: passion, connections, scrappiness; the mentality that you have to do whatever it takes to get it done.” – Casey
PJ: “We’re both really bad at saying no.”