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Awkward start-up move No. 47: Throwing parties at Whole Foods

Linked via Gawker.


When I was in San Francisco earlier this month, I witnessed firsthand the unwritten rule that new start-ups have to throw their debutante balls at the bar-gallery-event space known as 111 Minna, packed right into the dot-com-friendly neighborhood of SoMa. Here in NYC, our enclave of tech companies tends to cluster around SoHo and into the northern edge of Chinatown, but the sizes of properties around there are way too small to accommodate substantial crowds--let alone live music or DJs.

(Case in point: when a TreeHugger/Apartment Therapy/MoCo Loco party a few months ago during New York Design Week packed the Crosby St. space known as The Apartment so full that a line of wannabe attendees stretched all the way around the block...and those in-the-know snuck over to Gawker Media's headquarters next door for a shadow party.)

Blame it on the innate compactness of Manhattan. So I guess companies out here have to be a little bit more creative when they choose an event space. This one might take the creativity cake, though. I was reading on Gawker (speak of the devil) that a yet-to-be-launched start-up called DietOut is throwing some sort of soiree at...upmarket chow hub Whole Foods. To be more specific, the party on Tuesday night will be at Whole Foods Bowery, the recent arrival to a neighborhood that was once known for bums and bar fights and is gradually turning into glass-walled luxury-hotel-and-15-dollar-martini-land. (It's bittersweet.)

DietOut, for future reference, appears to be a sort of neighborhood-based community site with restaurant and shopping information. Based on its choice of venue, and the fact that it has the word "diet" in its name, the crowd it's targeting is going to be more yoga than Yelp.

New music is cool, and hyperlocal start-ups are so hot right now, but really, Whole Foods? Okay, so maybe that means the free food will be flowing like milk and honey, but any event taking place at a major supermarket chain probably shouldn't mark up its invitation with a cool-kid slang theme consisting of "play/rewind/forward/flipside." Fellow New Yorkers, I think we're in need of somewhere that our downtown tech companies can throw big events without looking, well, slightly toolish.