What is Planana - Watch the video here!
Help us understand what you are up to (Describe your work / research):
Planana is a simple, customizable tool that leverages Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to help event organizers sell more tickets. Using Planana, event organizers can create rewards, like VIP benefits or discounted tickets, that can be redeemed by attendees who do social actions to promote the event to their networks.
What drives you to continue pursuing this area of study?
We love events. Some of our most important life and career moments can be traced back to specific events. We want more people to have those kinds of experiences and share or discover cool events with their friends.
Describe how your work might impact people’s lives, now and in the future. (What’s the potential societal impact?)
Connecting to people in the real world cannot be replaced by the Internet. We are trying to harness the power of technology to increase real world attendance. If we are successful, we can really improve communities by connecting people to one another offline, by helping them build relationships and friends.
How did you come up with the idea?
We started another company in the event planning space called trueRSVP, which flake-proofed events. In building and launching that site we learned that event organizers definitely care about their attendance. However, more important than their exact attendance count, organizers want to maximize their attendance and ticket sales. They want to spread the word and grow their reach. And, that’s how Planana was born.
Has anyone ever doubted that your idea could work? (Please elaborate.)
Our friends and family tend to think we are a little crazy. Startups are risky, uncertain, and prone to failure, but we are excited for the challenge.
What is the next step in the innovation process for you (and how might people help)?
We launched Planana into public beta in mid-June 2012. We are now focused on improving the process and spreading the word to event organizers nationwide. If you plan public events, spread the word with Planana.com.
What is the one innovation you can’t live without?
Fei: Mp3 players. The ability to take my entire music library on the go with me is still amazing. I am completely miserable if I can’t listen to my music when I’m driving or at the gym.
Anna: iPad. I didn’t think I wanted it or needed it until I had it. Now, I can’t imagine life without. I’ve downloaded the majority of my textbooks onto it, saving time, money, and trees. Tablets are definitely the way of the future - especially in terms of making education portable & interactive.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Fei: That my favorite thing to do when I was young was play on my Super Nintendo.
Anna: I have a PC. And, I love it.
What do you wish you would have invented?
Fei: The Snuggie. Just kidding. I wish I could have come up with Dropbox. It’s so ridiculously simple, yet helps solve the huge pain of project collaboration.
Anna: I second that.
Any tips for aspiring innovators?
Fei: It’s a little bit about talent and a little bit about experience. Mostly, it’s about perseverance and drive. No innovators did it on their first try. It takes iteration after iteration and even then it will never be perfect.
Anna: Just do it. My favorite quote says it best: “We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generate inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.” Frank Tibolt.
Email or phone?
Anna: If you asked me a month ago, I would have said email. Since launching Planana, I’ve found phone calls to be much more direct and efficient.
Fei: Both have their place.
What is the most fun you’ve ever had?
Fei: Definitely one of my top experiences was the crazy Startup Bus adventure and experiencing the tech scene at South by Southwest.
Anna: I’m obsessed with traveling. I loved the summer I spent working in China and exploring Asia.
What other USC Stevens Center for Innovation programs have you been involved in? (TEDxUSC, mentoring and legal office hours, USC Student Innovator Showcase, Ideas Empowered, USC Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program, etc…) Please elaborate on your experience.
We’ve been a part of TEDxUSC & the USC Student Innovator Showcase. Both were enriching experiences that exposed us to innovations at our doorstep. The Showcase also gave us great exposure in the USC community.