Event Planning App Makes a Power Play
From the ice to the iPhone, eventuosity founder and Drexel alum Justin Panzer has always found inspiration in organization.
September 8, 2014
It’s late June, 2013. The Chicago Blackhawks have just won the Stanley Cup and are preparing for their victory parade down Michigan Avenue, far from the home of Justin Panzer’s beloved Philadelphia Flyers, who didn’t even make a run.
That blow is softened knowing that friend Michal Handzuš, a center on the Blackhawks championship team, finally got to drink from Lord Stanley’s Cup. That’s when Panzer gets a call. It’s Handzuš, offering Panzer’s son, Jake, the chance of a lifetime.
“If Jake wants to ride the parade with us, you’ve got to get him out to Chicago, like, tomorrow,” Panzer recalls Handzuš saying.
As a lifelong hockey player-turned-coach, Panzer knew this was a golden ticket. He lept into action, bought a plane ticket and busted through the red tape required to allow an unaccompanied minor to fly without supervision.
It’s a good thing Panzer is an event planning expert.
A hockey enthusiast only in his spare time, Panzer carved out a career in the telecom industry. He became an accidental event planner when he realized his knack for organization could help him plan events and keep track of the ensuing metrics.
Last week, Panzer’s first venture officially launched. It’s called eventuosity, a Web and mobile application that handles every aspect of event planning and participation.
It’s only fitting that eventuosity was developed at the Baiada Institute, on the campus of Panzer’s alma mater. A Philadelphia native through and through, Panzer graduated from Drexel in 1995. His career took him to New Orleans initially, and later to Alabama, Florida and San Diego before he finally settled in the Baltimore area.
Coming home to Philadelphia was always in the back of Panzer’s mind, even if eventuosity’s founding here happened almost by chance.
“I’m just one of those people who is very organized,” Panzer says. “I pull things together. Make sure things are in order and boxes are checked.”
The time compiling color-coded spreadsheets and documents to keep track of it all eventually began to usurp his actual, full-time responsibilities.
“There’s got to be a better way,” he thought. “There’s got to be something intelligent, something more automated, and it’s got to be something that we can build.”
An app finds a home
Panzer decided an app was the way to do it. One of his first steps was a phone call to Drexel to see if, perhaps, a student could help develop the app. Through those connections, he was eventually put in touch with the Baiada Institute. Arrangements were made for him to meet the team and take a tour.
“It happened to be a day that Mel Baiada was in the office. I got to meet everybody, including some of the mentors,” he says.
The Baiada Institute offered Panzer space.
“To find that there was something here at Drexel — a program like this that helps current and former students get access to resources — whether it’s technical or capital or just networking and events, it’s amazing. It’s like someone kind of read my mind. It was perfect.”
A return to Philly also meant he’d be closer to his coworkers: his mother, Marcy, eventuosity’s Executive Chairperson, and his brother, Doug, its CTO.
“It’s an interesting trio,” Panzer says of the family affair. Marcy is an attorney who served as chairperson of the board of a local bank. Doug is a lawyer too, but also a software developer and engagement manager. With Justin’s experience in product management and telecom, the group proved a perfect fit.
“Between the three of us, we’ve got the marketing and sales, the technology, the software, the finance and risk management. We cover a lot of ground.”
Then there’s the added bonus of being back home. “Even though I moved away, and my brother did for a while as well before coming back here, our family’s been in the Philadelphia area for four generations. We run into people we know everywhere. It just feels like the right place to be.”
Panzer, who played club hockey at Drexel and has been coaching youth teams for nearly 20 years, is eager not just for the start of the next Flyers season, but for the future of eventuosity.
“The support we’ve gotten, not only in Baiada but around the city, has been incredible. I think we’ve got a good product and we’ve tested it to within an inch of its life.”
After two rounds of beta testing, the public version of the app launched last week for both iPhone and Android platforms. And Panzer can’t imagine the launch happening anywhere else.
“I just can’t reiterate enough how impressed I am,” he says. “To see a program like this that is very cutting edge, and very receptive and supportive to people like me who come back here is just a really cool thing.”