Eric Hamblett is a co-owner at TechArtista, a co-working space in the Central West End, and the CEO of BazaarPass, a new company that helps brands grow their audience through events and membership. Eric spends his time between St. Louis and Chicago, and between his two business. We talked with Eric about his ventures, and how floating inspires and centers his busy lifestyle.
When you consider the St. Louis entrepreneurial community, what do TechArtista and FLOAT have in common?
I love this question. The first thing that comes to mind is space. Many entrepreneurs in St. Louis, or those that consider themselves “in the community,” are selling a product or a service. We sell an experience. The Float team has created a space where folks feel comfortable — from taking off their shoes, to experiencing new sights, sounds and even feelings. It’s hospitality at its core, and they do it at another level. At TechArtista, we also celebrate hospitality, and in many ways, consider ourselves a hospitality management company. We aim to create a space where risk-taking is encouraged, failure is celebrated, and a voice is heard. Both TechArtista and Float consider our customers as members, and offer something a bit more valuable than a transaction. We’re both in the transformation business, and use space as theme throughout. That’s what generates word-of-mouth business, and above all, growth. Another similarity I want to mention is our ability to consider how the business can grow outside of its walls. The space is the anchor, and the growth is the extension. Whether that means developing a consulting business at TechArtista, or growing the Float community through some to-be announced events, both businesses see ourselves as stewards of the industries we operate, fortunate enough to move things forward and contribute to its longterm success.
Tell me about BazaarPass.
BazaarPass! This is something close to my heart, a business I’ve poured myself into and learned plenty from. At a granular level, we provide brands and organizations with software to power events and membership. Our goal is to streamline many of the time consuming tasks around event and membership life cycles — from invitations, to surveys, follow-ups, recurring billing, donations, etc. Most groups likely use 4-7 different software programs to manage these light tasks. By centralizing all of this data, BazaarPass is able to present users with an audience platform ripe for activation.
What drives you to create businesses and opportunities in St. Louis?
St. Louis is one of the most inspiring places for me… I didn’t grow up here, but moved here to attend college, and carved out my own piece of the puzzle. The majority of my classmates left, and that hit me pretty hard. What was I missing? I certainly have big ambitions for myself, but when it comes to impact and legacy, St. Louis is one of those places you can be sure your hard work will move the needle forward. It’s humanizing to think about many other places that need entrepreneurs like the Float team. With a bit of creativity, I believe the community here is strong enough to turn small business into big business, but at the same time, never lose sight of the integrity it takes to grow such a movement.
How has floating impacted your life?
Floating has helped slow things down. I’m an “always on” kind of guy, and separating myself from technology tethers, and even thought tethers, was something I had never considered. Ironically, my escape rituals typically involved the opposite of being alone — instead surrounding myself with more people, more noise. That just was not sustainable. At the end of the day, my goal each time I float is to leave with a stronger, more open mind. It’s not something they teach you in school, but strength of mind is likely the single biggest contributing factor to my personal and professional breakthroughs.