The Download: At Tech Cocktail, the region’s latest crop of start-ups

Interviews can be a constant time sink for managers in industries with a high employee turnover rate, such as retail outfits or restaurants. That’s where Leesburg-based VidAppy sees a common practice in need of disruption.

The fledgling company was one of several on display at Tech Cocktail, a regular event hosted by the D.C. media company of the same name. It aims to display the city’s latest ventures.

VidAppy launches today as a hub where job applicants answer a series of stock questions — “Why are you the best candidate for the job?” — on camera. The videos are then stored on the site for employers to peruse or the clips are sent to them directly.

“You and I know in 10 seconds [of meeting in person] whether we can work together, so let’s do that part first instead of last,” said co-founder Jody Presti.

Speaking of introductions. . .

A second company featured at the gathering is creating a business around just that. Matthew Tendler and Dan Berger were both invited to weddings when the idea for Social Tables hit them. The Web site allows event planners to input seating arrangements so that table mates can meet in advance online.

The site has attracted 740 users in its first month who can log in to see the names and photos of table mates, find out where they’re from, where they work and went to college, and chat with them online.

As one attendee put it: They aim to kill small talk.

Another pair of start-ups at Tech Cocktail also had their eye on the event space, but to a different aim.

Kojami offers a Web site and smartphone application that allows users to scan a bar code on an event flier to immediately upload details and directions, as well as buy a ticket or suggest it to friends.

Meanwhile, Spontaneous lets those looking for a night out scour event listings. Over time, the site begins to learn your interests — basketball games vs. indie concerts, for example — and suggests activities you might enjoy.

At an adjacent table, Democrats Ray Glendening and Nathan Daschle explained how they left the campaign trail to launch Ruck.us. The social network is built with the idea that younger voters have turned to the Web for political expression.

The three-week-old site connects like-minded users based on political positions, and could soon allow them to interact with one another and take collective action by endorsing candidates or petitioning legislators.

“We want to take the power back to the grass roots,” said Glendening, the son of former Maryland governor Parris N. Glendening. Daschle is the son of former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

Other ventures on display included:

Start Some Good acts as a fundraising platform for do-gooders looking to bankroll small, charitable projects.

Ohava connects businesses, nonprofits or other entities with free, open-source software that can be tools for customer relationship management or Web conferencing, among other uses.

• For the adult sports leagues across the country, LeagueApps touts an online platform to register players, organize teams, coordinate events and facilitate player interaction.

Snack & Munch allows buyers to customize orders of 24 snacks that brothers Ammar and Farooq Yousuf then ship to offices, homes, college dorms and military bases.

TroopSwap serves the military market by offering daily deals tailored to soldiers and their families.

Tapped In brings the digital relationships you establish on networks like Twitter or LinkedIn into the physical world through events.

SpanishDict launched in 1999 as an online Spanish-English dictionary, but has expanded its product range in recent years to include translation services, flash cards and quizzes for Spanish learners.

• In the crowded market of daily deals, Coupo.st aggregates the offers in your area. But the start-up’s wrinkle is that it also scours other locales for deals at restaurants or retailers that have outposts in your area.

Cheek’d, a New York-based start-up, blends online dating with in-the-flesh introductions. Subscribers buy business-like cards that include a cute quip and personal code with a corresponding Web profile. He or she then doles them out and hopes the recipient sends an online message.

Steven Overly covers the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital in the Washington region for The Washington Post and its weekly Capital Business publication. In that capacity, he has written about start-up struggles, investment trends and major drug discoveries.
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