The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

10 Cool Sites For Event Organization — May 28, 2013

10 Cool Sites For Event Organization

A long, long time ago during the analog ages, planning an event involved mailing paper invitations to guests and anxiously awaiting a reply. Unfortunately we still haven’t concocted a remedy for waiting, but luckily several fun and (more) efficient ways to plan an event have been invented.  Even luckier for you, we’ve rounded up 10 sweet sites that will make planning and organizing your next event a breeze. If you have any others to add, leave them in the comments!

1. Splash

Splash’s well designed interface will make even the trendiest event planner drool. A free account gets you an event page, event planning tools, analytics, and mobile check-in for guests. Splash also offers the option of paid pro accounts that offer a custom URL, removal of branding, and email credits. Splash is a great option for throwing your next party.

2. Eventbrite

Eventbrite has quickly become one of the leaders in online event planning and management. The site’s accounts offer an event page, and easy ways to promote, analyze, and manage your event. This is a great option if you are planning free or personal events. Heads up: Free events are free to host through Eventbrite, but paid events are not. Eventbrite charges a 2.5% service fee ($0.99/ticket) plus a 3% credit card processing fee.

3. EventO

EventO is a “full-service event management tool” for any and every sized event. This is a good option if you’re planning events on a fairly large scale on a regular basis. The site is formated for desktop, tablet and mobile. EventO offers event registration, ticketing and promotion, as well as post-event surveys and analytics. Pricing varies.

4. Planspot

Planspot positions itself as the marketing answer to event planning. The site focuses on using media to make events happen. Planspot offers a free 14 day trial of their full account and a free account for event promotion. Pro accounts start at $49/month and include media promotion, publication tracking, email credits, social media and basic stats. The $99 account includes everything just mentioned in addition to advanced stats.

5. DoAttend

DoAttend is a simple and easy to use option for event planning. The site offers free accounts for ticket registration, offering discounts, collecting attendee data, and more. Charging for tickets will cost you 1.5% per transaction plus $0.49 when using PayPal.

6. Paperless Post

Paperless Post is a beautiful option for organizing a personal event. The site gives you the option of ordering and sending snail mail invitations in addition to online invites. The site boasts a wide variety of aesthetically pleasing designs from arts around the web. After sending online cards you can track RSVPs easily through the site. Pricing varies, and some online cards are free.

7. Pingg

Pingg offers offline and online invitations and greeting cards for every occasion with online RSVP tracking.  They feature a terrific collection of invitations for professional events. The designers and artists behind the cards are featured on the site, and Pingg also offers a number of community resources such as party tips and a directory of all events being hosted on the site. Pricing varies.

8. Punchbowl

Punchbowl offers digital cards in addition to party planning resources including a date decider, potluck organizer, contact import, RSVP management, cocktail poll, message board and more. A free account offers you the basics, while Plus, Premium and Platinum (at various prices) allow for additional services such as adding co-hosts, removal of advertising, priority tech support and more.

9. Evite

This is not Evite’s first rodeo, but thanks to their keeping with the time and updating the site it likely won’t be stepping out of the ring anytime soon. Evite offers a range of online invitations and cards in addition to party favors and supplies. Optional invitation features include tracked RSVPs, polling, allowing guests select which items to bring, and allowing guests to invite friends. Pricing varies.

10. Eventzilla

Eventzilla offers a free account that allows you to create a professional registration page, promote events across social media channels, setup waiver forms, deliver tickets online, send email notifications and manage cancellations. For profitable events you pay a flat rate of $1 per ticket sold. Eventzilla is an easy to use, reputable option, good for any personal or professional event.

Good luck, and happy event planning!

Interview: SF Local, Drew Hoolhorst — May 26, 2013

Interview: SF Local, Drew Hoolhorst

This week Eliza interviews freelance copywriter and regular Bold Italic contributor, Drew Hoolhorst. Follow Drew on Twitter via @drewber and on his blog, Rocket Shoes

Drew Hoolhorst
Drew Hoolhorst

You, Drew Hoolhorst, are a master storyteller. Who do you consider your earliest influences, and how has your storytelling evolved over the years?

Thank you, interview question, that’s incredibly kind of you. Ready for the hokey answer? My grandfather was the best storyteller I’ve ever met in my lifetime. Since I was a tiny babe, he would tell me the most grandiose Big Fish-esque lies you’ve ever heard and I just couldn’t get enough. There was sort of something great about it…his “art” of lying, really. I know that sounds horrible, but I loved how he could lie to me and tell these tales of absolute grandeur and even when I knew they were lies or at least stretches of truths, I just loved hearing them. The man just knew how to make you feel like you were the only person he was talking to, or had EVER spoken to, and that’s an art.

I’ve always tried to mimic that in any form of writing or storytelling: say things that readers and listeners feel like are just for them. In the best writing, that’s there, really. You are speaking to a million people, but if it were just one you’d tell it just as personally.

Some would say you are well known for your contributions to The Bold Italic. How would you breakdown your creative writing process?

It’s simple: come up with a great idea when you’re talking to people you care about. Laugh with them about it because you all agree that this is something you all feel and could talk about for hours. Every time: that’s where you start. The best stuff comes from conversations with people you care about, because when you’re just shooting the sh*t, that’s when you say the random Seinfeld-esque stuff that really sticks in your head… everyone’s head. After that?

Get a deadline, wait until the last minute, panic and then write. Don’t ever write ahead of time. You’ll write a huge piece of shit. Panic, man. It brings out some wonderful stuff, in my opinion.

Having worked as a freelance copywriter for SF advertising agency EVB, how do you gauge what style of writing will be the best suited for a particular audience?

In all honesty, you just listen to the client and then (in my case, because I’m small fry) you don’t wait to hear what your CD’s have to say to you, you listen to what they say to the other important people in the room that are just like them. Basically: what bosses say to bosses? Write for that audience. Because that’s when everyone’s really being completely honest, and that’s when people say the off the cuff stuff that tells you exactly what we all think we should be writing or concepting to.

As a freelancer what is your best self-motivation tactic, and what advice would you give to professionals considering freelance work?

Freelancing has been a funny thing. In the beginning, it’s like sex: you have no idea what you’re doing and you just lie incessantly to get everyone thinking you’ve been doing this for ages. I try to always remember that beginning part because after each job, you’ve sponged up a little more knowledge from some really amazing creative people and you’re that much better than you were when you walked in their door. Basically, every time I can’t self motivate, I remember that I used to have no idea what I was doing, and if it’s this much fun now, how much fun will it be if I keep my ass in gear? You can always get better, and I try to just remember that.

If you’re considering freelancing, just remember that it’s like getting a new job all the time, always. It’s hard, but it’s also incredibly fun to get a new uniform every month or so.


You worked as a social media strategist for the creative agency Mekanism back in 2006. What has surprised you about the evolution of social media, and do you have any predictions about how it will change in the future?

What’s surprised me is how far it’s come since then. I mean, I remember explaining to senior creatives how “the youtubes and the tweeters” worked back in the day and how strangely slow they were to grasp it and/or take it seriously, and it’s just really funny how now all of them add you on a social network every other day like a parent trying to add their daugther on Facebook (I say in jest, my bosses at the time were incredible people.) I think things like Vine have jumped the shark a bit, where it’s really awesome but…I don’t know, do we really have to have THAT short of an attention span? I like what companies like Medium are doing in trying to Goldilocks the blog/twitter conundrum a bit, and I think service apps are only going to get more amazing. Not a bold prediction, I know, but I think people are going to back off of the hyper short attention span stuff and focus more on making a service that’s “food delivery for blank” for every last thing on the planet.

You have a self-proclaimed ‘black belt in feelings’. What exactly do you mean by that?

It means I was raised by a single mother and have an extensive shoe collection and am happy to talk about feelings until both of our ears hurt. (I’ve just always been the sensitive guy my whole life, guess it just sort of stuck.)


What are your favorite events and communities in SF?

I love Noise Pop and Outside Lands to an almost unhealthy degree, and I’m so happy that OSL is finally getting to the level of Lollapalooza and what not. We deserved to have something like that here in SF. We’re a bunch of “neener neener” artisanal fans, it’s only right we get to see bands that no one’s ever heard of yet.

About our contributor // Eliza Dropkin is a lover of live music, good food, and beautiful places. Connect with her on Twitter via @elizadropkin.

Interview: London Local, Alex Shebar of Yelp — May 16, 2013

Interview: London Local, Alex Shebar of Yelp

This week Eliza interviews self-proclaimed king of all trades and Yelp’s Senior London Community Manager, Alex Shebar. Follow Alex on Twitter via @alexshebar.

Alex Shebar
Alex Shebar

You’re currently working as Yelp’s Senior London Community Manager. What part of your job requires the most creativity?

You’re going to scoff at me when I say this but it’s keeping London from not being boring. What? London? Boring? Never? Yes! It can be, when you go to the same restaurant or the same bar or the same event week in and week out. There’s so much to do in this city that a lot of times, people start to take it for granted. They begin to go to where they already know over and over. I throw a ton of events that show off amazing hidden gems, new food, crafted cocktails and things people have never seen before. I’m showing off new spots to my entire community, even to those who have lived here all their life. Finding ways to get people out of a rut and routine, that’s what requires more creativity.

Also, it takes some serious creativity on how not to get fat eating and drinking with the yelpers all the time. I’m not sure I’ve figured that part of the job out yet.

As a U.S. transplant and former Yelp Cincinnati CM, what surprised you the most about the event scene in London?

London is insane when it comes to events, and I mean that with love. You can literally be out every night of the week and not see the same thing twice. Hell, you can be out every night of the year and still not see the same thing twice. Also, I’m always shocked how early places close here compared with the US. Most bars shut up shop about 11pm/midnight. In the states, that’s when you’re just getting started, here it’s when they’re sending you to bed.

Having worked with multiple Yelp communities, what do think is the secret to creating a great offline community?

Honestly, the secret to a great offline community isn’t anything people don’t normally do in their daily life. Find fun people and put together fun things they want to do.

People may say they’re too tired to go out or it’s hard to meet new people, but if you can give them an event or a reason that sounds like something they just can’t miss, they’ll step out of their comfort zone, move away from the computer and actually be part of the community in real life. It’s all about authenticity and creativity.

Do you perceive a difference between the attitude towards online community in the U.S. versus the U.K?

When I moved to London, everyone I knew went, “Oh, everything is going to be so different.” Honestly, not so much. It’s like that scene in Pulp Fiction where it’s the little differences that get you (like Where’s Waldo being called Where’s Wally here. What?) But overall, no, a community of people who are interested in great local spots are the same from country to country. In England, people may be a little more hesitant to come out to events without knowing other people there first, but even that is small.

Word on the street is that Yelp found you through Twitter. Would you share the story behind that?

True! I was doing a major year-long project called Watch This where we were screening the American Film Institute’s Top 100 movies in a year, two movies a week. The project basically started in the living room and basements of friends’ houses where we would watch the films and invite anyone to join. It grew larger and then businesses started coming to me asking if they could show them. Eventually we were doing screenings for hundreds of people. At the same time, Yelp was looking for it’s first community manager in Cincinnati, Ohio.

They found me on Twitter, we got talking, they encouraged me to apply. That’s how it all began. So don’t ever let people tell you Twitter is a waste of time. Have them come talk to me.

Your career started off in writing and communication. What advice would you give to aspiring members of the tech community who struggle with writing?

Good question. It would have to be the same advice I was given when I was a journalist writing about complicated issues. Start by thinking about how you’d explain it to a child. Write that out. At this point, you’ll have the basics of whatever you’re talking about. Now you can spruce it up and make it sound a little better and submit something worth reading. Really though, people struggle the most with writing at the beginning because they don’t know where to start. Start there.

If you could only watch one film for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

Tough question! Probably O’ Brother Where Art Thou. I still can’t say why I love that film so much (besides the great story and fantastic music) but it’s just damn good.

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About our contributor // Eliza Dropkin is a lover of live music, good food, and beautiful places. Connect with her on Twitter via @elizadropkin.

Interview: SF Local, Rena Tom of Makeshift Society — May 12, 2013

Interview: SF Local, Rena Tom of Makeshift Society

This week Eliza interviews retail strategist and Makeshift Society founder, Rena Tom. Follow Rena on Twitter via @rena_tom.


Last year you founded the Makeshift Society, a coworking space located in the beautiful Hayes Valley. What goes into the day-to-day of running a coworking space ?

There are far more details when managing a coworking space than you’d think! Besides making sure the place is clean and stocked with supplies, you also need to make sure the social and emotional needs of people are met. Even if most folks are on their laptops, they are here because they are craving a certain level of interaction and connection with others. Monitoring the space is important, as the vibe differs every single day.

Besides this, there is the usual administrative support, and lots of blogging and social media, which is our marketing strategy right now. Word of mouth and familiarizing potential members with Makeshift through images of the space and current members has worked wonders.

Calling the Makeshift Society “a clubhouse for creatives” calls upon vestiges of childhood creativity while also eliciting the notion of exclusivity. What inspired you to describe the Makeshift Society this way?  

From the get-go, we wanted to emphasize play. Play is such an important component of creativity, as is permission to act. Creating a place where members feel like they have ownership to experiment, talk to people and get feedback is what we’re all about.

We figure that people already know how to work! We just try to make them feel comfortable enough to make mistakes. They might *not* make mistakes but they won’t know until they try.

As far as exclusivity goes, we aren’t, actually; we don’t maintain a waiting list and we don’t “curate” the membership mix. However, people who believe in and embrace our mission tend to get what we’re all about very quickly. We’ve been lucky that the Society membership largely self-selects and yet is still quite diverse. Our main difference from other coworking spaces is that the activities are geared toward freelancers. This is partly because we are a small space with all flex seating which works better for freelancers rather than teams, and partly because those are the people I’ve worked with in the past, so I understand their needs the best.

Rena at Makeshift Society
Rena at Makeshift Society

You founded Rare Device in New York City in 2005.  What lessons from that experience would you share with aspiring business owners? 

That was a great time to open a store, and NYC is just the place to get great exposure and learn fast. I would just say that if you have a great idea, just do it. I mitigated risk by taking on an extremely small space and giving myself a deadline to “make it”. Slow and steady growth is also not a bad thing to aspire to, especially if you are new to the business.

For a seasoned veteran, you can take on more risk, but if you are entering a field that you have no experience in, you don’t need to shoot for the moon – you need to learn the ropes. When you feel comfortable with that, *then* you can go big.

When you opened the San Francisco location in 2007 did you notice any drastic differences between starting a business on the West Coast vs. the East Coast? 

The main thing I learned is that it’s harder to get traditional press outside of New York. However, blogs and social media have started to become much more of a factor for successful retail, and that definitely helps level the playing field. I also learned that New York is far more trend-driven and less price point conscious, and that California was even more story-driven and concerned about the provenance of a product – but that also reflects the shift in values overall over the years. The recession really threw a wrench into the works but the recovery seems to be moving retail along nicely again.

Rena at Rare Device
Rena at Rare Device

Word in the Twitter-sphere is that you’re looking to open a Makeshift Society in Brooklyn. What influenced that decision?   

Demand and momentum. I think the time is right to bring our kind of coworking to Brooklyn, which is just so creative and has a great work ethic as well. It also makes sense because of real estate. Most people are in tiny apartments and can’t afford studio space or office space, and yet trying to meet and network at bars or similar places is loud and unsatisfying. The people I’ve talked to want a low-pressure environment where you can work or have a conversation or take a class. There are a lot of people who fly back and forth between SF and NYC, also, and expanding the network and having reciprocal membership will be awesome. We’re actively pursuing a space right now, and need to start fundraising. So far everyone I’ve spoken to has been very positive about the idea.

What was the last thing that inspired you on the streets of San Francisco? 

Let’s see. I have a fondness for survey marks.  You’ll find them sprinkled throughout my Instagram feed; I can’t stop myself from photographing them. I like that they are a secret language in plain sight. They offer clues about major, impactful things happening to our streets and sidewalks, but most people don’t even see them anymore. The online world is important but I am obviously a proponent of the built, offline world as well 🙂

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About our contributor // Eliza Dropkin is a lover of live music, good food, and beautiful places. Connect with her on Twitter via @elizadropkin.

Life Is Eventful: How Getting Out There Got Me Here — May 5, 2013

Life Is Eventful: How Getting Out There Got Me Here

We’re taught from a very young age that there are certain major life events that will have significant importance and deliver at least a modicum of respect. Being born (though you aren’t quite aware of that one), graduating from college, getting married, having children, buying a house, turning 50, etc. These are the Events with a capital ‘E’.

What no one really tells you, however, is the way the other kind of events will impact your life. These events will present the opportunity for learning, fun, and personal growth. Occasionally they will offer you a few hours of complete anonymity, and with it the extraordinary chance to be whoever you want.

When you scan The Fetch each week, deciding which events you’d like to attend, you never know how they will go. You could meet a new friend, make a new connection that leads to a new job, or find the perfect person with whom to start a company. We know this is true because we have experienced it first hand, and we’d like to share our stories with you (first Eliza and then Kate will in a follow-up post). Hopefully these will encourage you to take a chance on something new. Feel free to leave your own stories in the comment section, we’d love to hear them!

Eliza’s Experience

The events I have attended in the last year have had a greater impact on my life than I ever could have anticipated. While working as a marketing intern for Lovely last summer, I organized a mini-guerrilla marketing party in Dolores Park. We entitled the party “A Lovely Day In The Park,” and luckily for me, Kate was in attendance.

Two weeks later I had the opportunity to go to one of the monthly Community Manager Breakfasts at SoundCloud. As a verifiable tech newbie, I didn’t know what to expect. I’d only been working for a few weeks and I wasn’t entirely sure what the role of a community manager was. Not only did a conversation contributor (Kate) give me the full scoop of the CM role, I also became friends with Jane, the SoundCloud CMand had my first pupusa at Balompies (nearby the SC office).


This past fall I became involved with Yelp. It’s a funny story actually. I was studying abroad in London and made the audacious decision to spend a good chunk of October’s living budget on a plane ticket to surprise my boyfriend in California at a later date.  I lived off of a few pounds a day supplemented by a lot of quinoa and Hare Krishna for a week before I received a thrilling email inviting me to become a member of the London Yelp Elite. I accepted the invitation and RSVP’d yes to the next Elite event. When the day came I was almost too nervous to go, but emboldened by my +1, memories of images of wild Yelp Elite parties from Ligaya Tichy’s TED talk, and a growing hatred of quinoa, I hopped on the tube and went.

Easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

My first Yelp event was followed by dozens more, taking me all over London to places I would have never otherwise gone. I made terrific Yelp friends (shout out to the London Yelp CM Alex Shebar), ate delicious things and drank delicious cocktails for free(If there was ever a time for a #winning, this would be it).

If there is one nugget of wisdom you can take away from this blog post I hope it is the following truth: the only thing holding you back is yourself. Everyone is intimidated by the thought of conversing with a group of random strangers, but the truth of the matter is people (generally) don’t bite! If you pick an event of interest to you, the chances are you’ll meet some cool people. Plus you’ll already have something to talk about 🙂

Good luck, and happy networking!


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