November 6, 2015
Interacting with other people face-to-face is considered the best way to communicate for many people. Why would you want to talk on the phone, email, or video conference when you could simply meet up and talk over coffee? It’s more relaxing, there’s less data lost in the crossfire, and you can build an actual bond with the person you’re meeting.
Fête that was born of this very notion. Founders Raj Parikh and Sanket Shah came at it from a slightly different angle, though: they compiled lists of observations, pain points, and problems inherent in meeting people. Specifically, they focus their efforts on events and the psychology behind them.
“I lived in Paris studying architecture and urban design there,” says Shah. “I made a lot of observations about how people experience cities and how it’s a much more physical and spatial experience. People are interacting in real places and not glued to their phones and there’s a tight density of stuff happening right outside your door.”
However, when Shah got back to Atlanta, that physical event density simply wasn’t there for him. He also recognized that in the absence of this, people tried to compensate by doing more on their phones and on digital media. This led him to think: if he could leverage both technology and design to bring that density of activity and events stateside, he could effectively enrich peoples’ lives.
“It could be a very compelling thing, and probably profitable as well. There’s lots of research into how groups communicate with each other and what the whole ecosystem of events is,” says Shah. “That actually led us to this invitation card idea.”
The idea behind the invitation card is what fuels the motor for Fête. All users have to do is send an invitation card to their friends and then decide the details of the event with your friends’ input later on. For example, you could plan a casual dinner or a birthday extravaganza all through the Fête platform without losing any valuable input.
That’s perhaps the single most important aspect of what Fête does: it avoids the problem of losing precious data in the noise. That is, the duo realized that when an idea gets thrown out to a group of about eight to 20 people planning an event, only 10 to 20 percent of those ideas actually get any kind of engagement from other group members. So, given a group of 20 people, at best you get four people, at worst two people engaging with the idea; that’s a massive loss.
“Our product has a deep desire to bring people together in the events space while addressing these problems within the event,” says Parikh.
What Parikh and Shah spent the majority of their time on from square one was user feedback. They conducted around 400 user interviews to help them understand the psychology behind events and how they could optimize Fête to alleviate the pain points.
“We’re seeing great results right now, but it’s still early for qualitative feedback,” says Parikh. “The numbers we’re seeing so far are close to 2,000 events created on the platform, with 80 percent of people RSVP to the events.”
Perhaps most interesting is the macro approach that these two are taking to solve the problem. Neither of them is a technical individual, but they didn’t want to wait around for a technical cofounder and have that be the single reason they didn’t pursue their passion.
That unique situation has actually forced them to think outside of the box and outsource their tech talent. They’ve been tapping local colleges in Atlanta, compensating students with company equity. Through this strategy, Fête gets the much needed tech talent to iterate exciting new versions of the app and it opens up the doors to potentially hire trusted and vetted talent as Fête continues to grow.
“On a really high level I think Atlanta is a great city. We’re both from here, and with Georgia Tech, U of Georgia, and Georgia State, there’s a lot of development and design,” says Parikh. “We’re also not competing with 1,000 different startups to recruit those developers and resources.”
As the founders said, their mission has always been and will always be the event itself: that’s the product. The app is simply a way to bring people together who normally wouldn’t be able to, and to have these events in their lives. The company’s focus on the emotions inherent in the use of their platform versus the actual platform itself may help carry Shah and Parikh a long way.
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