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Two more start-ups aim to answer the question 'What's worth doing tonight?'

Posted by Scott Kirsner  February 8, 2010 11:30 AM

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Sponty and Riotvine want to amp up your social life, helping you post local events worth going to, and ideally gather some like-minded friends who might want to join you. 

It's an area where it'll be tough to gain momentum, given that Facebook is heavily used for sharing events, and Upcoming (now part of Yahoo) and Eventful have been around for a few years. Also, Boston-based Going.com tried to digitize our social lives, raising about $8.5 million in venture capital without really achieving critical mass. (It was acquired last year by AOL.)

Sponty co-founder Fayez Mohamood says his site has a tight focus on music. And the site is geared to encouraging you to follow "moguls" (taste-makers) who might lead you to great shows you wouldn't have discovered otherwise. "It's all about finding events through people," Mohamood says. Sponty's free iPhone app launched in December, and the ability to post events directly from Twitter came online in January. Sponty was a "side dish" demo-er at Web Innovators Group gathering last December.

Sponty and Riotvine are both predominantly focused on happenings in Boston at this stage, though Riotvine just launched two new cities, Austin and San Francisco, last week. Riotvine founder Kabir Hemrajani tells me that contests and ticket giveaways have proven the most effective way to attract new users to his site. One neat Riotvine feature is being able to see all the tweets related to each artist (granted, sometimes they are not that related), which sometimes contain links to music samples, videos, or reviews of past shows, and give you a sense of the buzz a given performer is getting.

Both Sponty, based in Cambridge, and Riotvine, based in Boston, are boot-strapped two man companies. Mohamood says he's currently in talks with some potential angel investors, and Hemrajani had a chance to publicly pitch Bain Capital Ventures Venrock a few weeks back as part of DartBoston's Capitalize series. Hemrajani says he left his full-time job last fall to work on RiotVine full time, but Mohamood is a still full-time employee at The MathWorks, developing Sponty on the side with co-founder Mahmoud Arram.

Both start-ups, interestingly enough, will be down in Austin, Texas next month for the big South by Southwest music festival, hoping to generate some buzz. (It's the first time for Mohamood, though Hemrajani attended last year.) That's the same event that put some wind in the sails of both Twitter and Foursquare.

Update: an Innovation Economy reader points me to yet another new site with the alluring name Instant Nightlife, founded by Shahriar Khushrushahi and an MIT-affiliated crew.

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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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