Fyre Festival

Upon watching this new hit documentary I am very interested to see the perspectives of other entrepreneurs on where everything went wrong. What do you feel like was the turning point? What would it have taken for Billy McFarland to pull this whole thing off?


Also, for those who haven’t yet watched the documentary, it is a must have on the netflix list to watch.

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  1. They operated like they were above everyone.


    – Ignored the request for no mention of ‘Pablo Escobar’s Island’ completely, when they lost that spot I feel like it all went downhill from there

    – Lied to investors

    – Spoke about their market being ‘the average loser’

    – The idea was never realistic in the time frame they planned

  2. Billy never had the slightest intention of pulling it off. The whole thing was a scam, his entire goal was to do enough to make it look like he’d tried to pull it off when really he was embezzling as much as possible. He couldn’t even get that right.

  3. Amongst the lies and brazen approach their final straw that stopped it from at least somewhat pulling off something passable was massively underestimating the budget needed.

    They were blindsided by the cost of hosting a venue and didn’t anticipate the cost of all the equipment needed… They budgeted far less and only realised the actual cost when they pulled in others who had hosted events.

    This resulted in massively needing to downsize everything with a last ditch attempt to recooperate cost with their preloaded money wristbands (and borrowing with the help of fraudulent statements), but it wasn’t enough and it was too late at that point.

  4. I know nothing about the music festival business.

    But it’s clear from the documentary that Ja and Billy were told by experienced festival organizers that the logistics prohibited the festival from taking place in format that Ja and Billy described.

    They ignored it because Billy was rapidly fleecing investors in a Ponzi scheme where he spent raised capital on marketing and then lied about his assets to raise more capital based on more marketing.

    It could never have been pulled off.

  5. Also, for anyone interested, I just found there is a second documentary on HULU but from Billy’s view (or so I’ve been told, don’t quote me on that). I will be watching it soon, just thought I’d let everyone know!

  6. With his connections and money and crew, he could have pulled it off and created a real thing.

    He would have needed to actually WANT to build it instead of just fuck around being a scam artist and he would have needed a year or more to build everything and confirm everything. Also, way less people.

    They sold 95% of their tickets in 48 hours. They could have marketed it as more expensive for less people and curated a much more real experience on that island.

    It’s very disappointing but his credit card thing was a scam as well, on a much larger scale so he actually ended up profiting.

  7. The turning point was when they sold access to living spaces that they didn’t have or had no conceivable way of building. You can’t sell a product you don’t have or have no way of making. It was a scam from the very beginning

  8. It would have taken a combination of:

    1) A shit load more money

    2) Executives with real technical background not just higher some guy with a pilots license

    3) Outside of the box thinking

    The biggest error they made (IMHO) was not having an Effing clue about the technical aspects. They had marketing down, but that was it. All flash, no substance. I suspect Billy didn’t WANT the whole thing to blow up, but he was obviously the lying/scamming type, he had no clue about what would actually be needed, he gave off the aura of “being the smartest guy in the room”, and he just kept on digging that hole.

    having only just watched the show and having zero idea about how truly fucky their finances were the one way I think you “could” have “maybe” pulled something off would be to:

    -Don’t fuckup the deal with Norman Cay

    -Bring in sufficient heavy equipment to prep the island, dredge out a deep water area along one of the coast lines, drop some heavy anchor points in the water and pour a slab on-shore where you would then dock an interconnected line of flat top barges to mate with the slab onshore with a large ramp. Drop a few pilings, and then build up on the barges greeting centers, logistics routing, and access ways so you could dock several cruise ships and yachts to the barges. Use the backfill from the dredging operation to make a breakwater around the “residential bay”.

    -On the barges and onshore deploy pumps & transformers to push/pull sewage, fresh water, and power from the ships to run the land based infrastructure (that you also need to be building). Food service would be “mostly” done on ship and mustered in/out via the barge bridge

    -Just build the high end places on the island, with the bulk of the people being cared for on-ship

    You “MIGHT” be able to slam rush something like that through in a year but its still going to cost a TON of cash and be a nightmare to organize.

  9. He thought it was a cool idea and went with it without doing much research and planning, that’s where it started going wrong (especially when the hype for it was so high).

    At some point he definitely knew they weren’t going to pull it off and do a great or even decent job but he didn’t care. He wanted to get ‘v1’ out the door and couldn’t afford cancelling due to having to refund existing customers.

  10. I used to have a business partner just like Billy. These people are no good for long-term business.

    They know how to twist the truth to suit their needs, charm investors that particularly have no clue on what they are investing on. And worst of all, they keep on lying to themselves and others and making false promises they know they cannot keep. And they are very good at doing that and leaving people with a glimpse of hope, although the reality never makes any sense.

    For me, the turning point is 100% trusting and not spotting Billy for what he is.

  11. I wanted to ask this here too, haha.

    If you forget about the forgery & his miscellaneous other fraud activities…I feel like most entrepreneurs can relate- What was he going to do? He didn’t have much of a choice after they committed to the initial idea… there was no way for him to bail out and save the business. If it wasn’t for forging crap for more investment, I almost would feel bad for him.

    I mean had he done it on another time when the housing would’ve been available- I kinda think they would’ve pulled off the “impossible”.

  12. As someone who works in supply chain, I think they were actually close to pulling it off and having a crazy festival, they just needed some better logistical planning.

    The guy is a con artist but a genius marketer. If he had a better team instead of fucking Ja Rule he probably could be super successful.

  13. It was doomed before it started. He used funding intended for magnesus to fund his life style, then from fyre to fund magnesus. This was doomed from the beginning and it’s why you cant work with someone without proper accounting and auditing. Any reasonable insight into the operation should of understood what liabilities are at stake when you promis an event instead of using the company money like a personal CC where you’ll cover it with the money you make next month.

  14. I thought about this way more than most normal 9-5 people would after watching it.

    The problem to me was simply scale. Think about it – instead of opening it up to 6000 people the first year, why not do it for like 1500? It adds to the exclusivity and FOMO factor, while also making it much much easier in terms of accommodations. 1/4 the catering, 1/4 the Airbnb type housing on the island, everything.

    On the revenue side, charge those 1500 3-4x what you did for 6000. There are still people that would pay just to be there. Put everyone in a 2-3 bed luxury cabana, with only 3-4 super luxury VIP ultra exclusive setups for triple the money.

    Pull it off well, and the hype grows. Slowly scale over 3-5 years up to 3500 or so and then revel in the success. Gotta keep the number somewhat low, or you lose the exclusivity and FOMO.

  15. You need to plan out the whole event before pitching to investors. Know your costs and potential points of failure. Know who will be in charge of different aspects and time-frames for each aspect. Show your solutions to potential points of failure.

    Release a limited number of tickets to show the viability of the project on a larger scale.

    He did everything backwards. He was lucky (or unlucky depending on how you look at it) the demand was there. This caused him to move forward without have any fucking clue how any of it was going to get done or how much time he needed.

    He’s a salesperson, not an event planner. Throw the general shittyness of his character and you have a recipe for disaster. And he managed to pull that off pretty well.

  16. Anndd, the biggest winner? Kendell Jenner – $250,000 direct deposit for a tweet. My entreprenuer goals? Become an influence, baby, ah-hah.

    Now, working on killer abs, staged bon-fire parties with paid-for descent looking people and I’m soliciting for inspiration or motivational quotes – anyone got any good ones? Thanks in advance.

    ^(This post brought to you by the Sarcastic and Facetious Business Ventures of America.)

  17. They bit more than they could chew in terms of the sheer number of participants. They could have pulled it off, had they started the preparation for transportation, accommodation and food lot earlier. They sold all the tickets to the events, spent the money more wisely. They didn’t have to pay everyone before hand with proper contracts in place.

  18. In the netflix version -i was struck by how many people billy was “sending away” for “being negative”.

    Its important for any entrepreneur to be open to feedback. He was remaining blind by continuously turning away from sound advice from experienced experts by saying he wanted only a solutions focused team.

    As one guy said in his interview , they were perpetuating the problem by providing more solutions. The real solution was to shut the operation down , but billy wouldn’t hear it.

    I think this is an extremely important point that doesn’t get enough attention. In today’s world, entrepreneurs are taught to be tough and keep sticking to it, but you csnt be so blinded by your Vision that you lose track of reality and put people in harm’s way.

  19. 1. Turning Point was Cocaine & believing Ja Rule when he spoke words

    2. They marketed their product before they had a product , understanding how to budget for that product, and the logistics in place to make it happen

  20. The thing that went wrong is they didn’t deliver!!

    Probably unable to deliver, as logistically they started much too late. 3 months to do something that would take AT LEAST a year.

    The crazy part is if it had been a success, Billy Mcfarland would be a hugely success entrepreneur.. and he could have propped up all his other lies with the profits of Fyre Fest and nobody would be the wiser or looking into his shadiness.

    Business is wild!

  21. You should look at all the posts here claiming him an entrepreneur genius right when the debacle started. The majority of posts were that the event not going off was only a setback and would go off either by Billy after they recollected or someone else would come in and do it.

    Everyone here was patting Billy on the back. Well it has been almost 2 years no mention of someone else trying this and now Billy is in jail as a fraud. It shows just how much out of touch this group really is on what an Entrepreneur really is.

    Also the comments on how everyone has a solution to pull it off gives me a nice chuckle.

  22. They didn’t have a fucking plan. I mean, it sounds like no one ever did math. It seriously looked like no one had a fucking budget which blows my mind. It’s like they just tried to throw money at shit and thought the profit would magically appear without doing the math.

  23. I think that Fyre Festival could have been a success if it had proper planning and investment. You can actually tell how everything went wrong just by looking at its pitch deck. So, if we want to understand how it could’ve been achievable, first we need to see what they did wrong.

    I recently wrote an article that talks about [why the Fyre Festival was doomed](https://slidebean.com/blog/startups/fyre-festival-pitch-deck/?utm_campaign=BA-Social-Interactions&utm_medium=content&utm_source=Reddit), in case you want to check it out.

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