Startup Monday: Zendesk

No business is complete without a customer service strategy and platform, and if you have customers- you need Zendesk! Zendesk is a web-based help desk and support ticketing application that gives companies a simple way to manage incoming support requests from end customers.

User reviews say that the app is super modern, clean and easy to use with little customization to get up and running. Many also report that it is a great system overall, with fun widgets and Salesforce integration.

Zendesk has led the way in revolutionizing customer service platforms.  They have had some great milestones including adding Twitter data and functionality in 2010 and Facebook integration in 2011, which has allowed customer service teams to engage with Facebook users from within the startup’s popular help-desk platform. Over 20,000 companies are now using Zendesk for customer service with upcoming plans to expand around the world.

Of course, any great idea/company is not without competitors – TeamSupport, Click Desk, Freshdesk, and Desk are just a few of the competitors in this space. Does your company use Zendesk or any other online customer service company? Have they helped your business grow? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook & Twitter.

Top 5 Pop-up Hotels

At ABCey, we’ve heard of everything from Pop-up stores to Pop-up cafes. Now, the latest trend to come upon us is the Pop-up hotel! This new idea utilizes freight containers as convenient portable hotel units. This means you can “build” your hotel in any cool location to cater to your specific clientele. Imagine the events you could host in these container hotels!  We’ve compiled a list of the Top 5 leaders in this trend.

1. Sleeping Around:  Sleeping Around is a “hotel” composed of 20-foot-long recycled shipping containers. Some containers are bedrooms, complete with high-end bedding, a rain shower, an iPod docking station, and air conditioning. Others are designed for eating meals or enjoying a sauna. Sleeping Around is currently located in Antwerp, but they are considering future locations.

2. Sleepbox Hotel:  Earlier in 2013, the first Sleepbox Hotel opened in an old building in Moscow with more than 50 pods that guests can book for overnight stays or just a few hours. Accommodations are admittedly barebones but, unlike at most hostels, travelers are ensured privacy with single and double capsule options.

3. Snoozebox Hotel:  Snoozebox, a British company offers a hotel system that can be set up anywhere. Known as the Snoozebox Hotel, the portable lodge hosts 40-400 rooms which can provide supplementary housing during an event, a busy travel season, or a natural disaster. Similar to Sleeping Around, the Snoozebox Hotel can be built in atypical locations for nature-loving travelers who do not want to sleep outdoors. Each Snoozebox room is climate-controlled and offers typical hotel amenities such as flat screen TVs and WiFi.

4. The Deûle Insolite: A French hotel near the Belgian border north of will start taking reservations for a converted shipping container this September. The new shipping container room was designed in partnership with HouseUP, a French company that specializes in transforming the 20-foot-long steel boxes into vacation homes. Some units will even have balconies and kitchenettes.

5. Xiang Xiang Xiang Pray House: China exported 3.2 million shipping containers last year — more than any other country in the world. It is only fitting that its newest hotel covers is made up of 35 new shipping containers.  The hotel covers 5,000 square meters and has 21 guestrooms in total. The rooms come in two sizes: 15 square meters or 30 square meters and windows are installed on one side of the containers as well as in the roof.

Do you think the freight container hotel concept could take-off in the United States? Do I sense a future Kickstarter campaign? Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook & Twitter.

Tech Tuesday: Twitter Walls

Social media has clearly become an integral part of any big event. Live social media displays are a great way to energize the crowd, source user generated content, and encourage people to tweet and Instagram away. There are many options these days for displaying your audience’s tweets, and moderating those that may be inappropriate or brand damaging!  Check out five great recommendations for Live Tweeting!

1. Wall of Tweets: Wall of Tweets offers many different functionalities – from a basic display of text messages to very interactive involvement of attendees in discussions, Q&As, and video and audio streams. Essentially, if it’s digital –it can be included in your Wall of Tweets experience. Price depends heavily on the type of the event, its duration and expected number of visitors. 

2. Visible TweetsVisible Tweets is a visualization of Twitter messages designed for display in public spaces. It is definitely more about the visual display of the individual Tweets rather than the display of collective Tweets. It’s not for every event but it could be the perfect tool for a specific type of event like an art show. Give Visible Tweets a try on their website.

3. Tweet Wall Pro: Tweet Wall Pro is great because it allows for automatic moderation which ban Tweets containing a list of inappropriate words or swear words and/or one or several users.  You also have the option of having a person moderate in real-time with the live moderation feature. Tweet Wall Pro is highly customizable and also provides Tweet analytics.

4. RevisitRevisit is a real-time visualization of the latest twitter messages around a specific topic. Use it create your own twitter wall at a conference or an ambient display at your company or whatever other idea you come up with. 

5. Another Tweet on The Wall Another Tweet on The Wall also posts Tweets one at a time but puts a nice strong emphasis on the profile of the Tweeter. The background of the wall borrows the image from the poster’s Twitter Profile. This might be an interesting way to encourage live conversations at the event between the attendees.

Have you used a Twitter Wall for your events? At our most recent BlackJet SF Launch Party, we featured a Twitter Feed Wall on a giant LCD screen to display all the tweets with our hashtag #BlackJetSFLaunch. Let us know your favorite tool in the comments below or on Facebook & Twitter!

ABCey’s Weekend Line-up: 3.7.13 – 3.10.13

There are tons of great activities in San Francisco this weekend and ABCey has selected the best for your entertainment!  We’re particularly hoping for some good weather for Saturday in lieu of the Naked Bike Ride…

1. Lower Polk Art Walk | 3.7.13 | Polk/Sutter – SF | The Art Walk transforms Fern Alley into the “Artists in the Alley” night gallery and is open to all independent artists who register before the event. It will feature video projected works, live art, food trucks, as well as something fun for the kids.

2. Kaleidoscope Indie Dance Party | 3.8.13 | The Rock Steady – Oakland | Dance your pants off at a free indie dance party at The Rock Steady in Oakland. Kaleidoscope features synth pop, indie dance and alt music and is held every second Friday of the month with resident DJ Becky Knox plus guests.

3. Mischief Burlesque | 3.8.13 | Skylark Bar – SF | Are you a big fan of the Christina Aguilera move “Burlesque?” Come watch it live and see the tantalizing lovely ladies, Hunny Bunny and her Hot Toddies, perform a sizzling burlesque show at Skylark Bar in the Mission.4. World Naked Bike Ride | 3.9.13 | Justin Herman Plaza – SF | Meet at 11:00am for body painting and a Noon departure from the Plaza so that the ride will (thankfully) take place in the warmest part of the day. The ride generally hits AT&T Park, the Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, the Haight, the Castro and more.5. Alicia Keys | 3.10.13 | Oracle Arena – Oakland | Fourteen-time Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter, and producer Alicia Keys comes to the Bay Area for her highly anticipated ‘Girl on Fire’ tour.

Will we being seeing you at any of these events? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook & Twitter.

Startup Monday: Wanderable

Unique and new experiences can often be a more valuable gift than any new cookware or furniture. This is why Wanderable, a site for honeymoon registries, is such a great tool for wedding couples. Not only that, Wanderable also makes the tedious task of sending out thank you cards a breeze! At ABCey, we think that it’s a wonderful idea and would recommend this to any couple about to tie the knot!

One of the best aspects of Wanderable is that it will also help you plan your honeymoon by suggesting destinations and activities based on your travel style. Wanderable also gives you the control to customize your registry and make it beautiful with designer themes and various layouts. You can even choose your own custom link!

Wanderable makes it equally easy for you share your new and exciting experiences with the very people that helped pay for it. With the iPhone app, you can make a real or virtual postcard with the snap of your camera phone and a personal message to your guests. Wanderable will save you a trip (or more) to the post office by stamping and mailing your postcards. Finally, it keeps track of you who you’ve sent a thank-you card to and who you have yet to thank. Super!

With the help of Wanderable, you are able cut down one more stressful component of planning your wedding. Would you try Wanderable for your upcoming nuptuals? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook & Twitter!

Illuminode: Mind Glowing Social Technology

Are you looking for something to “brighten up” your next event? Let us introduce you to Illuminode, where lighting meets art, technology and a completely new type of media for socializing. Illuminode creates full-spectrum, interactive LED illumination for fashion, brands, events, artists, architects and beyond. Since we’re fairly concerned with events over here at ABCey, we thought would look into it more for you...

They aren’t just creating “pretty lights” for an event; their initiative is to create a new way for devices to connect and communicate wirelessly to form social relationships the same way that people do. The Illuminode team consists of  electrical engineers, logistics specialists, and designers who create these large scale social technologies. One of their first prototypes and one of our favorites are the “Social Umbrellas.” The LED umbrellas are inherently social and will not work alone. When joined by two or more noded umbrellas they explode in a brilliant display of sequenced light!

We also absolutely love the Billion Jelly Bloom projects where Illuminode integrates their wireless Blinkternet modules into the wonderful creatures to provide a brand new interactive experience!

Illuminode devices should have particular appeal to event planners with their easy and simple set-up. Do you think you will try this “mind-glowing social technology” for your next event? How do you think your audience/guests could use these devices to interact, or to help facilitate and reinforce relationships? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook & Twitter!

ABCey’s Weekend Line-up: 2.21.13 – 2.24.13

ABCey has got another round of great events for you to enjoy in San Francisco this weekend. From Pop-up stores to the Polar Plunge, there’s always  a variety of fun experiences to check out!

1. Storenvy Pop-up Shop
| 2.21 | Crocker Galleria – 50 Post St | Stop by the Storenvy Pop-Up Shop at Crocker Galleria from 4-8pm for a night of drinks, music and fun. Shop four amazing local designers and mingle with brands, retailers and space owners who are all excited about the future of pop-up retail. On the agenda is the Harlem Shake at 7pm, so bring your costumes and props. The Storenvy Pop-up Shop runs from February 18 to March 18 and features Topshelf Boutique, Animal Instincts, Embergrass, After Eleven Apparel. Official hashtag: #POPUPENVY

2. Intro to Mobile App Development | 2.21 | Sandbox Suites – 567 Sutter St | Learn to make mobile applications is simpler than you think! The course will review the technologies being used in making applications and give you enough guidance for you to decide what the best strategy for you is for making an application. This is a beginner level class and can be of assistance to you if you don’t have any background in programming and are interested in building an app. It is also very helpful to those interested in or are currently working with programmers.

3. Pancakes & Booze Art Show | 2.22-2.23 | Bar 4N5 – 863 Mission St | LA’s Underground Art Show has made a home in San Francisco and is coming back February 22-23, 2013 for another two day run at Gallery 4N5. For a $5 cover charge expect to see the works from over 75 underground and emerging artists, live body painting, live audio and visual effects, a photo booth, a no-host bar and most importantly, an all-you-can-eat pancake bar. Enjoy live audio and visual performances byXpander Xperience, Matt Sabotage Nakamatani, KC Patterson, Joshy Nightshift, and Andy P.

4. 2013 Polar Plunge | 2.23 | Aquatic Park, Crissy Field| Come down to Crissy Field on February 23, 2013 and delight at watching other people freeze their tail ends off by taking a plunge in the bay with all proceeds going to the Special Olympics of Northern California. Unlike the Escape From Alcatraz triathlon, these hundreds of brave souls won’t be swimming, just braving it—some in wacky costumes—for a quick, but agonizing dip in the chilly waters of the SF Bay. For those too chicken for a plunge, they’ll be sent to the “Chicken Coop” so be sure to wash them with ridicule… and donate a buck to their cause while you’re at it!

5. 2013 Oscars Bash with Peaches Christ | 2.24 | The Midnight Sun – 4067 18th St | Join Peaches Christ and celebrity commentators, Lady Bear and Hugz Bunny on the red carpet for the ultimate queer super bowl, the 2013 Academy Awards on February 24, 2013. From the pre-show fashion parade to the crowning of the “Best Picture” Oscar, the on-hand drag commentators will be emceeing the awards ceremony, sharing opinions and providing recaps during the commercial breaks all night long. This will be a live viewing party and guests are encouraged to dress to impress for the “Oscar Character Costume Contest” – Django couture, Mary Todd Lincoln Realness, Black-tie OBL, Drag Of The Southern Wild.

Which of these events will we see you at? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook & Twitter!

ABCey’s Weekend Line-up: 2.7.13 – 2.10.13

No need to stress about Valentine’s Day quite yet…we’ve got plenty of things for you to do this week! Also keep your eyes peeled for some EXCITING events headed your way produced by yours truly, ABCey Events!

1. 15th Annual SF Indie Film Fest | February 7-21 | Roxie Theater – 3117 16th St | The San Francisco Independent Film Festival (SF Indie) celebrates its 15th Anniversary in February 2013. This annual festival showcases the best in independent, alternative, and subversive cinema from around the globe. The Festival came about when Founder/Director of SF Indie Jeff Ross realized there was no avenue available for his friend Rand Alexander to show his film, CAGED, even though it had played the prestigious Slamdance Film Festival that same year. Jeff took to the streets and put on a four-day event financed with his personal credit cards. A decade later, the SF Independent Film Festival draws crowds of over 11,000 and continues to support and celebrate maverick filmmakers and their work. 

2. SF SPCA’s Be Mine Adopt-a-thon| February 8-10 | SF SPCA – 201 Alabama St | As Valentine’s Day approaches are you feeling like you need someone/thing to cuddle and love? Join San Francisco’s SFPCA on February 8th – 10th for their annual Be Mine Adopt-a-thon! Adoption fees will be waived all weekend for animals from the SF SPCA, SF Animal Care & Control, Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, and Family Dog Rescue. They’re hosting a Friday night cocktail party, Saturday afternoon dog and cat behavior seminars, a bake sale, prizes and more! 

3. SF Beer Week 2013! | February 8-17 | Various Locations | Because San Franciscans love a craft beer…SF Beer Week will offer 300+ Events in SF, East Bay & South Bay for nine days! SF Beer Week, now in its 5th year, celebrates and promotes the diversity and quality of craft beer in the Bay Area from February 8-17, 2013. It’s a grassroots collection of events held at venues throughout the Bay Area, from breweries and brewpubs to restaurants, bars, and retail beverage stores. Events include meet-the-brewer nights, beer dinners, tastings and much more.

4. Local Music Show Spotlight: Ghost Parade, The Soonest, The Chaw | February 8 | DNA Lounge – 375 11th St | When was the last time you went out and listened to some new local musical talent in the Bay Area? Ghost Parade is a progressive rock band from San Francisco composed of three handsome young men. Their brand of melodic, emotive alt-rock hints at an emo-fied version of the Deftones with some killer licks mixed in. The Soonest has a sound which has been described as rich and haunting and has been compared to bands such as The National, Bloc Party, and Arcade Fire. The Chaw is a four piece Psych Rock band from San Francisco characterized by dark moody sounds, drenched in reverb, referencing soundtracks of the classic spaghetti westerns, big open bar chords and barky low register guitar leads ala Dick Dale.

5. New Release Wine Launch and TASTE-OFF | February 9 | Fort Mason | If you ever thought TOP CHEF judging looked fun – this is the event for you! You get to be the judge! Tastemakers, join TasteTV at its 1st Annual New Release Wine & Spirits Launch & Taste-Off.  At the Taste-Off, attendees will be among the first to discover and sample the newest wine and spirits releases of the year. They really aren’t joking…you get to taste, enjoy and review new releases from over 40+ wines and spirits, including R&B Cellars, Ellipsis Wine Company, Cass Winery, Crazy Flower Wines, Lyra Wine, Passaggio Wines, Rock Wall Wine Company, Parrish Family Vineyard, Urban Legend Cellars, VIE Winery, The Winery SF, Sol Rouge, Laujor Estate Winery and more.

BONUS EVENT: Familia w/ Lee Coombs, Matt Kramer, Layne Loomis, & Darren Grayson | February 9 | Project One | A seasoned veteran, Coombs first hit the DJ slopes in 1989, bathing himself in the acid house scene at parties around London and Cambridge. Crucial in shaping his all-encompassing approach to DJing and production, this boundary-less approach would become Coombs’ trademark, mixing up breaks, house, electro, techno and acid with dexterous assurance. The Distrikt boys will also be gracing the decks, so come get your dance on familia style!

Will we be seeing you at any of these fun events this weekend? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook & Twitter.

Startup Monday: Swish

ABCey Events is always on the hunt for the latest gadgets or tools that will serve as unique event gifts or help us to better plan an event. This just got a whole lot easier with Swish!  Swish, which only launched this past Friday, offers VERY new (not-yet-made) products from creators and inventors across the world. Each product gets a 30-day pre-order campaign giving all Swish users the chance to be one of the first people to own a new product.

If you’re hosting a tech event maybe you want to include a Card Ninja in your gift bag? I just finished baking an absurd amount of brownies for a Super Bowl party and could actually use the Ultimate Spatula. There are tons of innovative items that would be very helpful for event planners (and everyone) on this site.  Furthermore, never before has your order for something been so meaningful. 

Swish co-founder Heather Brundage tells us, “We want to give consumers a voice like the App Store or Reddit, where you get to go and say ‘Hey, I want that!’ and not be limited by what only big retailers think you will like.” When you order a product, you signify to everyone else and the public that the product is worthy and has value – moving it up on the Crowd Favorite list.  Your order invariably helps inventors determine a demand for their creation which gives them the go-ahead to ramp up production.

If Fab and Kickstarter had a startup baby, Swish would be their child. It is creative, fun gadgets and products for sale with a little crowdfunding thrown in the mix. It might take them a few months (or up to a year) to get these brand-new products to you, however, you will have the ultimate satisfaction that you’ll be one of the first people to get your hands on an awesome new product that you helped become a reality!

What’s your favorite product on their site? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook & Twitter.

TechCrunch Crunchies Coverage: Biggest Social Impact

ABCey Events is super excited for tomorrow’s 2012 Crunchie Awards here in our beloved SF! For our final awards coverage, we wanted to spotlight the startups that are up for Biggest Social Impact, those that have contributed to some meaningful and significant social impact in our society.

1. Donors Choose – Donors Choose is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. Public school teachers post classroom project requests on the site, and one can give any amount to the project that most inspires. When a project reaches its funding goal, Donors Choose ship the materials to the school. In return, donors get photos of the project taking place, a letter from the teacher, and insight into how every dollar was spent. Give over $50 and you’ll also receive hand-written thank-yous from the students. This truly makes giving back an easy and fun task. After all, we’ve all been there when someone ate all the glue.

2. Indiegogo – Indiegogo is a crowdfunding platform where people who want to raise money can create fundraising campaigns to tell their story and get the word out. Indiegogo is also a place to discover what people all over the world are passionate about and how to get involved. IndieGoGo campaigns receive all the money they have been pledged, whether the initial funding goal was reached or not. IndieGoGo is available internationally.

3. Kickstarter – Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology.  They are particularly useful and great for finding and funding creative projects such as music albums or indie movies.  Every project creator sets their project’s funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers’ credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.4. Kiva – Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. Loans funded through Kiva have a 98 percent repayment rate, so the money you lend to a small business owner is likely to come back to you. By connecting people through lending, Kiva has empowered small businesses and served as an important catalyst for positive change and job growth.

5. Reddit – Reddit is a source for what’s new and popular on the web. Users like you provide all of the content and decide, through voting, what’s good and what’s junk. Links that receive community approval bubble up towards #1, so the front page is constantly in motion and (hopefully) filled with fresh, interesting links.  This is far more effective and significant than when you “like” something on Facebook.  Interestingly, Mashable has a complete section devoted to “Reddit Facts” learned each week.

Which of these startups have made the most social impact on your life? Who did you vote for? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook & Twitter.