First Mover: Shane Rahmani

The Thrillist Media Group exec wants to get guys to spend, and not just when they're drunk

People have called Thrillist a DailyCandy for men. That a fair description?

I’d say it’s a fine analogy for the Thrillist of yesterday, but the Thrillist of tomorrow is a multi-platform lifestyle brand that connects to guys wherever they are. About things they give a shit about. [Laughs]

Who is that customer?

It’s a guy that works hard, earns money and is looking to spend it, looking to have a good time. We are like that guy’s older brother or that friend that’s been around the block. If that guy has just arrived in Chicago and wants to know, “OK, I’m in Chicago for one night, what’s the one thing I have to do?” Thrillist will cut through all the crap and say, “This is where you need to go.” Or they’re coming to [our e-commerce site] JackThreads after work, during lunch or when they are getting home from the bars, and perhaps they’re drunk and they are just browsing to seewhat we have.

Has anyone asked to return items they bought when they were in that state?

The JackThreads guy is jamming on our site at all times, including when they are drunk or stoned. Here’s some return commentary we’ve picked up: “Somehow I ordered the same shirt several times. May have been drunk. Could you cancel the second and third for me?” “Please cancel my order. I got stoned and ordered way too much shit.”

Sounds like an engaged customer.

They spend more than five minutes shopping, on average. More than half of our buyers in a given month are repeat buyers.

Where does editorial content fit in at Thrillist Media Group?

Commerce, in a way, is the content. Guys want to read about the designers and the products themselves. We editorialize all that. The way the colors pop and the way the pictures come out, it’s almost like a magazine. The line is very blurred.

On the flip side, there’s been a wave of magazines trying e-commerce. Is it harder to go in that direction?

I’d say it’d be much harder for them to enter commerce. If they’re going to do it in an owned and operated fashion, you have customer support, warehouses—it’s almost endless in terms of what you need to do it well. Food and drink is sort of the Thrillist expertise at its current state. But I think it would be easier for us to add gear or gadgets or tech or fashion or editorial lifestyle categories, although you have to do it in a smart way. We’re not going to be the brand that tells young dads what diapers to buy.

Still, the company has stated it plans to double its revenue in 2012. How do you intend to do that?

We’ll continue to invest in JackThreads. There are categories where it might make sense for us to be in. We’ve got the infrastructure, we have a trusted brand, and there is a lot of runway there. On the Thrillist side, we’ve continued to grow in terms of the subscribers to the newsletter. We continue to monetize that business through advertising, but we’re looking forward to doing more on the Web and other platforms.

There are a lot of food and drink deals on Thrillist, things you’d expect young guys to be into. Any items people went for that were surprising?

Since everything we offer is highly curated and all-killer, no-filler, we expect everything to be received well. That said, occasionally we take risks, and didn’t expect a private day of butcher lessons from Mario Batali’s upstate poultry supplier to sell out in an hour. But it did!