Crystal Grave is soaking up Silicon Valley for her Indy-based tech startup
Crystal Grave was helping a friend plan an outdoor wedding reception when the idea for an online event planning tool came to her. Today, Snappening is helping consumers and professional event planners create lasting memories, and Crystal is honing her startup and fundraising skills at Women’s Startup Lab in Silicon Valley.
Born and raised in Indianapolis, Crystal worked as a corporate marketer for 15 years before she started Snappening. Her marketing experience was invaluable during the startup process because, unlike a lot of first-time entrepreneurs, Crystal had the know-how to conduct market research and validate her idea before quitting her job and investing time and money in something people didn’t need.
She zeroed in on three potential user groups — consumers, event planners and event venues — and discovered she wasn’t alone. There was definitely demand for a comprehensive online database that makes event planning a snap. Hence the name, Snappening.
“Anybody can make a list of event venues,” Crystal explained. “You can go to the phone book for that, to some degree, but if you want to sort the data the way people plan events you need Snappening. There’s value in helping people sort the data by five, six, 10 or 15 parameters — like a restaurant downtown with private dining and outdoor space that serves alcohol and steak. That kind of discrete list means a whole lot more to you if that’s what you need than just a list of restaurants.
“That’s my vision for Snappening, using the standardization of data in the events industry and vertical to make that data for more accessible. I want our customers to have a service they are comfortable with and come back to every single time for the event they are planning now.”
Last month, Crystal found out that after an exhaustive and highly competitive process, she had been hand-picked to participate in Women’s Startup Lab in Silicon Valley. Crystal is one of 14 women selected from hundreds of applicants worldwide for this intensive 15-week accelerator program.
Crystal said she’s looking forward to working with Women’s Startup Lab founder Ari Horie and the program’s stellar advisors. Listed on the Women’s Startup Lab website, advisors inlude Fran Maier (co-founder, Match.com; co-founder, TRUSTe) Kauffman Fellow Trish Costello, and Denise Brosseau (Co-founder, Watermark; Co-founder, Springboard; CEO, Well-Connected Leader).
The fact that Women’s Startup Lab is focused on women — helping women-led startups become more fundable and scaling faster — was very important to Crystal. “It’s difficult to get funding as a woman anywhere, but its particularly difficult in the Midwest. So being able to get into Silicon Valley and with a network of advisors who can offer me B2C expertise and funding strategies that I can bring home to Indy and apply to my business … its hard to ignore that opportunity.”
The two previous Women’s Startup Lab classes have had great success. Some of the startups have been acquired, at least one was accepted to the Y Combinator accelerator, and many have gone on to secure significant funding.
For now, Crystal is focused on working hard at soaking up all of the experience and knowledge she can while she’s out in Silicon Valley and still running day-to-day operations for Snappening.
Already up and running in six cities, including Indianapolis, Louisville and Cincinnati, the growth trajectory is to continue adding service city by city.
What Ari Horie, CEO and founder of Women’s Startup Lab had to say about Crystal:
Women’s Startup Lab is focused on the quality of the founder; knowing the founder is the key ingredient to a startup’s success. “Crystal was selected based upon her commitment, focus and tenacity. She will excel in the community of Women’s Startup Lab which is based upon collaboration and a network of support. She will be a great role model for women leaders.”