In the sea of event planning startups and technologies currently on the market, most are focused on formal events – conferences, business gatherings, tradeshows. But not many are attacking the more personal events organized by people in their everyday lives. Social activity ecosystem niarmi is looking to fill the gap.
Based in New York, niarmi (Spanglish for “near me”) is looking to the U.S. Hispanic market as the gateway to a greater reach in both the United States and Latin America. It is a personal SaaS for individuals planning small-scale events and parties, combining elements of event organization, social media and e-commerce for a complete, streamlined experience.
The startup gathers all amenities to assist planners in personal, family, religious, civic and popular celebrations. It also contemplates 300 different hobbies and pastimes, such as sports and games.
niarmi is the brainchild of Armando Castellano Jr, previously the CEO of Socialmedios. The parent company of niarmi, Socialmedios provides solutions for small businesses in areas like web development, telecommunications, mobile initiatives, e-commerce and social media management.
Castellano Jr spoke with PulsoSocial about his new endeavor and explained how all of its features fit together.
Emily Stewart: There seem to be a lot of facets of the product – event organization, e-commerce, social elements, etc. Why do something so broad? What are the most essential elements of niarmi?
Armando Castellano Jr: niarmi is a celebration-centric product. We feel there’s a difference between celebrations and events from a public perception standpoint. niarmi is here to assist all those people going through a bunch of hurdles when planning a baby shower, a birthday party or a wedding. niarmi is basically a personal SaaS for individuals to manage their party requirements without moving onto another website.
In short, those niarmi facets you’ve referred to are there for a reason. If you plan a birthday party, niarmi might have potential guests already registered as members of its social space, and they might be friends you’d like to invite. It also has an e-commerce platform supporting a gift registry as well as a service providers listing for you to buy cake and soda, hire a DJ, decorators, servers, dancers and everything in between. On the social side, you have chat, e-mail and notifications, so you can monitor and interact with service providers and guests.
However, niarmi’s best feature relies on B, C & A (Before, Current & After), a system that will allow any party planner to make a reality show out of their own celebration. This is pretty cool. You have an assigned forum-type space we call Hall to chat and share how the party gets organized. Guests and service providers may join the conversation with comments, images and video posting in real-time, which makes it a very cool feature. The After feature even gets a survey together to be sent to partygoers.
ES: On the event front, this is a pretty crowded niche. What makes niarmi stand out?
ACJ: That’s a great question. Again, we don’t see niarmi as an event-only property. It’s certainly a crowded market, but we don’t feel niarmi belongs to it. However, we do offer public events, such as concerts and DJ performances, as an add-on, because from time to time, niarmi members would like to go out clubbing on someone’s birthday. We’ve got to be there to provide the right gig, get tickets booked and show whatever event reviews are available, as well as provide directions.
In celebration planning, niarmi works as a personal SaaS engine. I mean, if you were a promoter of sporting events or a concert producer, you have access to a powerful performance tool that analyzes most of the items related to your business: inventory, client relations, payments, ad management, couponing and even disputes and reimbursements. Same goes for regular members planning a personal party.
They get this unique task management engine at their disposal for free. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not aware of any company offering the same types of services as niarmi.
ES: Your products are largely geared towards U.S. Hispanics, a growing demographic but definitely one that’s underrepresented in the tech field. What do you think needs to happen for more Hispanics and Latinos to get into the U.S. tech game?
ACJ: Initially, niarmi is targeting millennials within U.S. Hispanics. We hope to be able to take advantage of its short name to move into the mainstream, as the word “niarmi” is Spanglish for near me.
As far as Hispanics technologists go, I’d tell you that I’ve met numerous brilliant guys in tech. It’s certainly a minority now, but that might change later.
You think about it, most first-generation Hispanics coming to the States weren’t familiar with technology. They even kept themselves glued to their roots by watching novelas and Don Francisco on Univision and maintaining customs from the countries they came from.
I’ve seen a new breed of technologists of second and third-generation Hispanics, but I don’t see them getting on the startup bandwagon anytime soon because, as their parents did, they look for a steady job to stay put until retirement. Most I know are on the payrolls of technology giants like Microsoft, AT&T, Citrix, Google and Verizon.