When Old Town Alexandria resident Aron Kansal founded SimpleTix in 2008, he had an advantage over many other chief executives. He was the brains and the brawn of the business, an idea man with the ability to write code.
Kansal said knowledge of how to build software, along with a staff comprised solely of freelance developers, kept costs low as he built a Web site to sell electronic tickets. As a result, he can afford to charge ticket purveyors a fee of 25 to 50 cents a ticket, which is less than many competitors.
Word-of-mouth marketing alone has generated a bevy of international clients. Canada, Ireland, South Africa and 23 other countries are home to performing arts houses and other venues that use SimpleTix. The software supports many languages and currencies.
“We don’t really care about America at all [as a market] because it is so saturated with California start-ups,” he said. “And they only think about English-speaking countries.”
With its international footprint, SimpleTix was undoubtedly the most established start-up at last week’s Tech Cocktail. The semi-regular mixer, hosted by Frank Gruber and Jen Consalvo, showcases the region’s latest company creations.
The team from Weekly Eats might have been the newest in the room.
The Web site, which generates recipe recommendations and shopping lists, was conceived and built last November during Startup Weekend, a 54-hour marathon in which people come together to build companies. Now four of the original founders have a more polished demo to showcase and a need for seed money.
While co-founder Dov Markowitz said he and the other founders boast complementary skill sets, building the business has been an exercise in persistence.
“We definitely had moments of ‘Oh my God’ but we love it,” he said.
Eric Bell’s start-up, a personal finance Web site called YoBucko , is as much a labor of love as a labor of frustration. The Georgetown MBA student recalls with anger when his credit score was tarnished by a $49 medical bill he never knew he had.
That was years ago. Bell has since had a stint in private banking for Citigroup, where he learned the rich often lack a basic knowledge of personal finance — a topic school curriculums often overlook.
The Falls Church resident said “just teaching people how they should manage their money is not helpful if they don’t have the tools.” Bell answers user-submitted questions on YoBucko and provides resources such as credit card comparisons.
Nine other start-ups from across the region were also in attendance:
The Shadow Room, a lounge on K Street NW, didn’t just play host to the event. Its founders also had a start-up, called Dasdak , on display. The Web site and mobile app combo provides a place for restaurants and shops to connect directly with patrons.
Got lunch plans? LunchMix lets its members make a romantic occasion of the midday meal by connecting them with others in their immediate area.
LemurIMS aims to bring personal shopping to big-box retailers and department stores through an iPad app. Store managers input a customer’s desired purchase — say a pair of pants or flatscreen television — then alerts them to exclusive sales. (For more on LemurIMS see this week’s BusinessRx, Page 25).
Quotogram lets users share meaningful quotes with friends via a mobile app.
Sponto uses the global positioning system that’s built into most smartphones to show people any events within 15 miles of their location. It’s available on Android phones.
As more people turn to Twitter to sound off on politics, ElectionGauge culls those 140-character diatribes to see which candidates and issues generate the most buzz.
A start-up called Runinout matches members based on their taste in food, then recommends different types of cuisine — Italian, Ethiopian, Middle Eastern, etc. — that might appeal to their taste buds.
Parking Panda pairs people with an extra parking spot with those searching for one. It brings extra cash to the former and saves the latter from expensive parking garages. It’s live in Baltimore with plans to come to the District.