GOOD

Are You On the List? SXSW's Party Economy

One woman's quest to get you and everyone else into all of South by Southwest's best parties.


Jennifer Sinski takes parties seriously.

“I had always been the one to RSVP all my friends to all the events,” Sinski says. “This is about spreadsheets. I like going out and I’m down to go anywhere, and I’ll go to four or five different parties, [but] I kind of want to know what’s going on.”


Lucky for Sinski, she lives in Austin, where the annual South by Southwest conferences bring 20,000 people (and $167 million in 2011) to town for the purpose of having a good time. Thanks to the force multiplying power of the internet, hard work, and a little luck, Sinski launched a pop-up enterprise to take part in the SXSW economy.

Sinski, who freelances for the cool-hunting newsletter Thrillist, was telling an editor about her efforts to get friends into all the festival’s free parties—the myriad drinks, meetups and "secret" shows that surround the official schedule of panels and concerts and for many people make up the heart of the "Southby" experience—when she realized she had a business opportunity on her hands.

Last year, 150 people paid her $30 a pop to get them on the list at all the best parties. Her business, RSVPster, was born. This year, she added a partner, developer Miles Dahmann, to beef up the services’ website. So far, 1,400 people have asked Sinski and her associates to get them on the list for SXSW parties. If you want to join them, you’ll have to sign up before March 1 for the company to make good on its promise to get you on all the right lists.

Still, 1,400 people signing up for everything sort of calls into question the whole concept the of RSVP—répondez s'il vous plait, the proper hosts’ plea for information about who’s coming to his party. It’s clear that many of the people throwing parties at SXSW aren’t worried about too many people overwhelming their intimate events. A line around the block—and all the hopeful partiers’ e-mail addresses—are reward enough.

Except when people are planning an intimate event.

“We have some event planners who are very unhappy, those are the ones who are going smaller, interactive events, geared toward a specific subset,” Sinski says. “There’s a party, Drupal coders meetup, they don’t want 1,000 people on their invite list who aren’t interested in going to an event.”

That creates a dilemma for Sinski, since she can’t exactly ask her customers to start narrowing down their preferences: They’re paying her to get them on the list for everything. Fortunately, most event planners e-mail the people on their RSVP lists for confirmation they plan to attend, and besides, Sinski says, ‘secret’ shows or events that really want to curate their audiences probably shouldn’t post their announcements without any targeting—it’s on them to make sure that attendees meet their standards.

RSVPster isn’t compensated by event planners for driving attendance (and attendee data) to their parties, but attendees must agree to have their contact information distributed.

Sinski characterizes her service as a way to weed through the Southby experience, giving users the ability to find and attend different events on the fly; it’s also good for those who attend the festival without full passes (such as the folks sent to work the festival who still want to capture some of the nightlife). Sinski, who’s attended SXSW for the last six years, advises out-of-towners to get off the beaten path and check out the non-headline events, and suggests that locals get into the spirit of the festival, whether for fun, profit or both.

“I think Austinites get really jaded about Southby and people are upset that it’s taking over the town, but the reality is it’s a huge opportunity economically and socially for the city and we should all be happy that we can live in a city that can foster that,” Sinski says.

RSVPster might not be the most likely candidate to scale into a full-fledged company, and Sinski’s not sure what that would look like—maybe “some sort of concierge to events”—but she does want to up her company’s game next year with a mobile app and better relationships with event planners.

“To be honest with you, I have a day job that I don’t really like,” Sinski says. “For me, this project can be ‘how can I get better employment, can I start a business?’ I’m 24, I live in Austin, I hang out with my friends and go to shows. Southby allowed me to start a business, one that’s doing really well.”

Photo via (cc) Flickr user IFC-the-Internet

Articles
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Pixabay

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet