“WE CURRENTLY HAVE 5 DIFFERENT TEAMS THAT ARE CAPABLE OF DELIVERING 5 SHOWS ON THE SAME DAY, IN 5 DIFFERENT CITIES, ON 5 DIFFERENT CONTINENTS.” – VICENC MARTI, PRESIDENT OF ELROW
Thursday 14 March, 2019
One of the biggest international party brands, Elrow traces its roots all the way back to 1870 when ancestors of the founding family, the Arnaus, ran a popular social club for traders and gamblers in northern Spain.
Having come a long way since then, the brand has gone global and has organized parties in more than 50 cities in the world. With some pretty flamboyant themes and outlandish costumes, Elrow parties are truly a theatrical delight.
We sat down with Vicenc Marti, president of Elrow, ahead of the upcoming ‘El Bowsque Encantado’ event on Soho Beach, to learn more about his vision for the hugely successful brand.
Your career has seen you head a fashion company, direct commercial strategies for an airline, work at various levels for a large gaming corporation and now, become president of one of the world’s biggest party brand, Elrow. How would you describe your journey so far?
My journey has been a lot of fun so far, and if I am fortunate enough, I plan to keep it that way. I have never understood when people talk about career planning and career steps. Each project I have decided to be associated with has been based on the quality of the people I would be working with, how much fun would I have doing it, what value can I realistically add and lastly, the size of the economic opportunity. Lately, I have been adding a new dimension while evaluating new projects – which is the amount of social good the project will bring to society, if successful.
Is there any other city in the world (apart from the ones already toured) where you’d like to take Elrow’s brand of parties?
That’s an easy one: Havana, Cuba. I had the privilege of spending a significant amount of time in the Cuban capital exactly two decades ago at a young age – while I was transitioning between two jobs. I fell in love with the architecture, the vibe, the music and the scent of the city - it would be a dream to see Elrow throwing a memorable party for the Cuban people. Maybe one day, who knows?!
What’s the type of planning that goes into organizing Elrow parties for a city like Dubai?
Dubai is considered a residency for Elrow, alongside Barcelona, Madrid, New York, Shanghai, London and Ibiza. These are our AAA (VIP) capitals, and we place special care in the sort of themes, set and decorations, props and, of course, music line-ups that go into the residency shows. Also, with no exceptions, each one of our residency shows has at least one member of the Elrow Exec. Team onsite to cater to the local media, VIPs and industry folk who want to exchange ideas in person, discuss new opportunities, or are there just to enjoy the party.
How did you learn four different languages? Are there any other you’d like to get better at?
I learned four languages naturally – as Catalan and Spanish were spoken at home, and I attended Lycee Français for schooling from the ages of 3 to 17. Then, I went to the US for college, and I picked up English pretty naturally as well. The two languages that are definitely on my bucket list: Mandarin and Arabic. Mandarin for the sheer challenge of the language itself, and because we are entering the Chinese century. Arabic because I have always loved its musicality, and because it is related to Spanish culture.
We read somewhere that you enjoy cooking. What’s your favorite dish to cook?
My cooking is “Improv Style”, and I love show cooking for my guests (ideally 8-10) where I improvise with vegetables, seafood, eggs and spices. The cooking is done mostly using Teppanyaki and Wok techniques. I enjoy entertaining and serving so much that I almost always forget to eat, myself!
With a career as industrious as yours, what motivated you to keep going throughout it all?
My motivation is curiosity. I have never once had the desire to stop learning and exposing myself to situations or challenges outside of my comfort zone. I have also been fortunate to have an incredible group of friends who taught me new things in the most diverse array of disciplines.
Who’s your favorite player in FC Barcelona?
You know, as long as Messi exists, it has to be Messi. He has redefined football, playing better than anybody in history for over a decade. That being said, I think Ter Stegen is extraordinary too – he is disciplined yet brilliant. Humble, yet confident, and to me, he is the best in the world in his position right now.
You’ve worked in a diverse range of fields, how did you adapt yourself to each one of them?
Adaptability is the most desirable skill not only in a professional career, but in personal life as well. Raw IQ is fine, but it is normally overrated. Finding people that adapt well to different industries, business situations (success or failure, for example) and roles is the holy grail of recruiting. I value adaptability so much that I try to lead by example.
What do you love most about your job?
Working with my partner Juan Arnau Jr., the CEO of Elrow. He is the most pure soul I have come across in business, and in all my experiences. He is driven by his ambition and desire to take Elrow around the world, and he is incapable of any malicious or unethical behavior. In addition to all that, we are very compatible – I am good at the things he is less good at, and the other way around.
What do you think of the partying scene in Dubai?
Dubai is a party capital, on a par with New York, London, Ibiza and others. It’s no coincidence that we are placing our bets on Elrow to turn these cities into Elrow Residencies. We are committed to Dubai and very bullish about its prospects.
Did you have any role models growing up?
I’ve had a few. My father has always been my moral compass, and he continues to be. One of my professors at IESE Business School, Joan Roure, is an entrepreneur himself, and taught me many of the things I know about negotiations and conflict resolution. Finally, my good friend Peter Read (ex-Google Ventures; currently at Vetruvian Partners) is a role model in teaching me how to live a conscious life.
Is there any party that you’ll always remember?
Oh, several. Elrow's last party at Space Ibiza before moving to Amnesia would be up there. Also, this past summer, the six-hour set by Sabo & Goldcap at Burning Man was one for the books. In general, the parties I will always remember have more to do – with the people that are with me and my connection to the music.
Creatively, is it difficult for the team to come up with a theme for every Elrow party?
Amazingly no, it's not difficult. Two secrets for that: one of them is that the creative team is led by the amazing Jo Vidler and Cruz Arnau, my partner Juan's sister, and our CMO who is super creative. They surround themselves with a fantastic group of creative human beings, and have mastered a free-flowing process of idea generation that just works. The second secret is less well known – it’s called the “Business Mind” of the Exec. Team – I am deliberately banned from those sessions, but everything turns out to be perfect.
What are some of the challenges of organizing a large-scale international event like Elrow in different cities?
Elrow has grown exponentially in the last four years, and we have had to adapt to the logistical requirements of the company while we were effectively touring the world many times over. We currently have 5 different teams that are capable of delivering 5 shows on the same day, in 5 different cities, on 5 different continents. But imagine the work that goes before and after each show – for example, set and decorations need to be produced, and need to be taken to places on time, as well as to the right people. And after every show, an equally important takedown happens before we are off to the next city. I always try to explain that besides being the most creative company in the industry, we also need to excel at logistics, operations, technical and engineering aspects of a show. We have truly become a left-brain/right-brain type of company.
Where do you see Elrow in the next 5 years?
We see ourselves as a global entertainment company that brings immersive, music-based events around the world – to convey our values and leave party-goers in awe. So, we will evolve in terms of creativity, the type of shows, size, venue and even music genres – but we will always remain consistent to our core values. I’m looking forward to the ride.
Elrow will be returning to the beautiful Soho Beach on Friday, the 15th of March, with its ‘El Bowsque Encantado’ party. For more information, call 052-433 3375.