|The Washington Times
Party Pages Pay
Festive-events fax fills foreigner's financial calendar
By David Field
Even after the nonstop parties of the holiday season, Lak Vohra is up for more, as many as five parties a week.
After all, they're his job as editor and publisher of the Party Digest, a new fax news service for Washington networkers, hearty-partiers and other year-round celebrants.
This is not so far away from his first job as a "calendar boy" at the Indian Express in New Delhi, India's largest English-language newspaper; and his first U.S. job as an editorial assistant helping out on the calendar at the Washingtonian magazine.
"Everyone does calendar and party listings as part of a larger publication; there's no single central source, and, in this city, there's a need:' said Mr. Vohra in his Falls Church home office.
"After all, there is a demographic here, plenty of single people between 24 and 30 years who go out two or three times a week and are willing to spend $65 for an average event," he says.
He gets most of his information about coming events by going to events and finding new contacts.
"I won't leave a party until I have at least five business cards" or other pieces of paper with a useful tidbit, Mr. Vohra said.
After winning a Rotary scholarship that brought him to the States, Mr. Vohra studied at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University where he took a master's degree.
Mr. Vohra, 30, launched the Party Digest in September and now claims about 3,000 readers for his two editions a month (with an extra last month.) The introductory rate is $19 for six months.
His target audience includes music lovers, wine connoisseurs, executives of nonprofit groups and of trade associations, professional meeting and party planners, catering companies, hotel concierges, night-club and health-club managers, advertising agencies, political consultants and public relations executives.
The Party Digest lists happenings, clubs to join, restaurant galas, charity balls, art gallery openings, concerts and other events, many of which do not make the city's two major daily newspapers or its variety of weekly and monthly publications.
The Digest, Mr. Vohra said, tries to pick up the slack left by the demise of two of the area's glossy magazines, Washington Dossier and Museum & Arts Washington, but aims at a younger crowd than did those upscale books.
"People party to meet other people but they also want to set up networks, to get into groups:' he says.
"There's almost a business cycle of new people coming in and mixing for a 'few months and then going off and forming their own groups. They need guide."
But Mr. Vohra joined the party circuit in his three years as an editor for Association Trends, which tracks one of Washington's largest industries
trade groups and associations, from the potato chip society to the fertilizer institute and so on.
"I was going out and working receptions three, four; sometimes five nights a week and I realized that 'there was market here," he says of his duties for the Bethesda-based publication.
It was only after several years that the ownership bug struck.
"I was approaching my 30th birth-day and wanted to have my own business aria be my own boss. I approached my publishers and asked that they let me become a publisher so that I could learn the business side but it soon became clear that I would have to be on my own."
Two weeks before his birthday, Mr. Vohra launched Party Digest.
His start-up capital, "somewhere between $7,000 and $10,000;' came from savings, from borrowing on credit cards, bartering and "hustling really hard."
He had to buy a computer (Apple Macintosh), modem, printer and programs, as well as his tuxedo. Early sponsors and advertisers included players in Washington's sharply competitive catering and events industry, photographers, and ads for specific parties at area hotels.