All Aboard the Man Van
Dealflicks is the go-to place for discounted movie tickets and concessions at your local theater. But how did they get there? By roaming around the country in their ManVan, hitting up theaters by day and sleeping in the back of the their van by night. Sean Wycliffe, cofounder and CEO, discusses the hustler mentality that drives Dealflicks forward.
“Do whatever it takes” is the entrepreneur’s signature motto. Dealflicks co-founder Sean Wycliffe and Kevin Hong embraced that motto and took it one step further with the Man Van, a cross-country crusade to sign as many theaters as possible.
Wycliffe and Hale launched Dealflicks in the summer of 2012 to a lukewarm response. By the end of the year, Wycliffe said Dealflicks had signed 60 or so theaters — a number too low for their expectations. It was time to flip the script.
“We realized cold-calling doesn’t work, email doesn’t work, what works is getting that face time,” Wycliffe says.
Kevin Hong, the Chief of Business Development (CBD), proposed getting up close and personal with theaters all across the country. Hong traded his Acura for his father’s minivan and set off on a three-month road trip across the United States to visit as many independent theaters as he could.
Hong took bootstrapping to the maximum. He slept on a full-sized mattress stuffed into the back of the minivan, showered at 24 Hour Fitness, and drove miles on end to wine-and-dine theater owners.
It was wildly successful.
“Theater owners respected it,” Wycliffe says. “There were just an insane amount of stories that came out of it, as you can imagine.”
There have been five Man Vans since and as Wycliffe says, crazy stories do happen. Just last year, Hong was chased by a bear during a trip in Whistler.
But according to Wycliffe, it’s just all in a day’s work. Seems like in order to break into Hollywood, you need to have a little Hollywood in you.
“You have to be a go-getter and be willing to put yourself out there,” Wycliffe says. “Hustle, essentially.”
Five Man Vans later, it’s hard to imagine Dealflicks without the cross-country shenanigans.
“The Man Van pretty much embodies our culture here at Dealflicks. When people think Dealflicks, they think Man Van; They think this kind of hustler mentality,” Wycliffe says.
With over 600 theaters now on their roster, the trips have paid off. Dealflicks is even planning a spin-off: backpacking across Europe to sign movie theaters there.
For Dealflicks, it’s one never-ending hustle.
“You want to work at Dealflicks, you’re not necessarily living in a van anymore but that culture, that concept, still permeates our company,” Wycliffe says.