I was talking to Matt Douglas last week, founder of the Framingham-based party planning site MyPunchbowl. They're announcing tomorrow morning that they've acquired some assets from GroupGo of Waltham to help party hosts find local vendors, like a flower shop, a balloon-delivery service, or a Mexican restaurant with a private dining room.
Douglas talks about planning a party as a "workflow," which "starts with figuring out the date, sending a save-the-date announcement, then doing an online invitation, managing what people are bringing if it's a potluck, buying supplies, creating a gift registry, organizing travel, and then doing photo and video-sharing after the party is over."
Douglas and his team have raised $3 million from investors including Intel Capital , Contour Ventures, and eCoast Angels. And in many ways, they've built a site that has surpassed the Web 1.0 dinosaur of party planning, Evite (now owned by Barry Diller's online conglomerate InterActiveCorp.) MyPunchbowl makes it much easier to decide upon the best date for a gathering among a group of friends, or organize a potluck where everyone brings a different dish, for instance.
Douglas tells me that the main way people discover MyPunchbowl is that they're invited to a party that uses it, or they hear about it from a friend. "It is a viral model," he says. "The more people who are exposed to it, the more people who tell others about it."
I'm sure that's true, but MyPunchbowl (founded in 2007) still lags way behind Evite (founded in 1997) in terms of usage:
(The chart above doesn't show that MyPunchbowl has actually been growing its user base over the past year.)
So what's your theory? We all have our favorite example of a Web 1.0 dinosaur that hasn't innovated enough (eBay, Craigslist, and Expedia among them.) Is it just
ennui inertia? I still find myself using KodakGallery (founded in 1999 as Ofoto) for much of my personal photo sharing and printing, even though I'm sure there are many better options.
Is it just that Web 1.0 dinosaurs got the flywheel spinning first, and achieved a level of virality that it's hard for anyone to match?
Interested in your opinions: why is it so hard to kill a Web 1.0 dinosaur? And what examples can you think of (aside from Google vs. Yahoo) where a Web 1.0 dinosaur has been brought down by a new entrant?
(Douglas, for his part, says that he doesn't like his site being compared to Evite; he says it's more similar to sites like TheKnot.com, which does start-to-finish wedding planning. He does acknowledge, though, that his start-up may suffer from a perception problem. "You can't win a war of perception on $3 million bucks. It's a long-term effort.")
About Scott Kirsner
Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.
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December 9: Web Innovators Group
Demos of new mobile apps and web ventures at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. Free admission; cash bar.
December 10: Fintech Demo Day
Short demos from startups in the financial technology realm.
December 11: Unpitch
Entrepreneurs and investors sit down for lunch, advice, and feedback. Entrepreneurs must apply to participate.