September 6, 2012
Anyone who’s hosted a party knows that, although enjoyable, it ain’t cheap. Asking your guests to pitch in is often easier said than done. After all, you’re attempting to orchestrate a fun experience for your friends, asking for money is never fun.
Enter Tixelated, a DC-based service that crowdsources a party’s costs upfront. Not only does their service improve the party fundraising process, but according to Philippe Chetrit, Tixelated co-founder and CEO, also improves engagement throughout the planning process.
By gamifying the experience, being mobile, and simplifying the process, we allow the fun to begin at the event invite and continue through the entire process.
Tech Cocktail caught up with Chetrit to learn more.
Tech Cocktail: What was the inspiration behind Tixelated? What do you enjoy most about working on it?
Philippe Chetrit: Events have always been part of my background. My first business was a film festival in NY and I’ve been a DJ, here in DC for the last 5 years. With every event I have ever done, I have always had the same problems – invites and ticketing are NOT fun. Events and parties are the things we look forward to all week long and yet the process is something we dread. That has always been a huge disconnect. So when I met my cofounder about a year ago, we decided to do something about it. Now our lives are about understanding the art and science of partying and thats pretty awesome.
Tixelated is a tool that excites you about the event two weeks out, when you got the invite and it keeps you excited. We’ve weaved in a bunch of ways for invitees to collaborate, compete and have fun leading up to the event. And for hosts, we built a tool that lets you collect funds from your friends while not looking like a douche.
Tech Cocktail: Who is your greatest competitor, and how do you differentiate yourself?
Chetrit: Most parties are either planned offline or on Facebook. Casual and spontaneous parties are mainly organized via text – so we optimized for that by making a mobile site that ties into your phone book and allows for that same spontaneity. Otherwise Facebook Events, though not ideal, are great cause all your friends are already on Facebook. We knew we had to tie into Facebook so that no one had to go looking for their friends but we added some features that Facebook doesn’t have, ie monetizing your parties and keeping your guests engaged. One of the biggest problems with Facebook Events is that an RSVP doesn’t mean anyone is coming. We knew we had to address that so we built Tixelated to keep friends interested in your event and somewhat accountable.
Tech Cocktail: What is the biggest advantage and disadvantage of starting up in DC?
Chetrit: DC has been a great place for us to launch since we are so tied to the event scene here. Many of the local DJs and promoters are our friends so we have had customers from day one who can help us test, iterate and hone our product. Nothing seems more important when getting started than interacting with customers. And with our affiliation with Affinity Lab, we have been fortunate to have a great network of entrepreneurs, partners and investors to connect with.
However, we are a fun, young, consumer app in event tech, which is difficult for many seasoned DC entrepreneurs to connect with. Most of the angel community here made their money in government or enterprise businesses and do not have a ton of experience in consumer products. But maybe Living Social, Hello Wallet, etc can change that. Maybe Tixelated can change that!
Tech Cocktail: Describe a challenging moment or a crucial decision for your startup. How did you deal with it, and what did you learn from it?
Chetrit: At conception, we wanted to target local DJs and independent promoters, it was a market we were more familiar with. But as we talked to our customers and completed a ton of research, we realized the real opportunity was with college kids. There are 20M undergrads who spend $37B a year on socializing. This was a much more compelling market for us but it required a significant product pivot. The DNA of college parties was very different from that of the independent promoters’. That moment was crucial. What we decided was not only to shift our product but also shift our culture. We decided to become a company founded in flexibility and agility. So we have built our infrastructure and team mentality to be much more responsive; a better handling vehicle. Everyday, we examine our test results and ask ourselves some pretty tough questions before progressing.
Tech Cocktail: What’s one quirky fact about you, your team, or your office culture?
Chetrit: Some how we’ve pulled together a really smart rag tag team who loves parties. Its pretty hard to find such a talented group who loves focussing on the science of parties. I mean, our CTO was the social chair of his fraternity, how many developers can say that.
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