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Stash App Lets Users Save Popular Goings-On, Search In-The-Know People

MIDTOWN — The words "the Heavy Metal Magician, trained rats, jugglers and sexy clowns" caught Kim Kovacs' eye while scrolling through events on her new iPhone app.

Kovacs, 41, an online product manager, had recently downloaded Stash to her smartphone and was using it to find goings-on she wouldn't normally come across, like the variety show with  "circus folks and other vaudevillian performers" taking place in the Lower East Side on May 6.

"You can see what other people post. It's truly a social tool," Kovacs said. "All of a sudden I realized that this 27-year-old girl and I have the same musical interests, so I'm going to follow her now."

Based in Midtown and launched on April 17, Stash is like a Pinterest for events, allowing people to share happenings and search what other in-the-know people are going to.

"You like to go out to dinner on Friday nights. You like to go out to two movies a month. You're really into art. We're able to take that and we're building a recommendation engine where we are able to deliver personalized recommendations," said founding member David Ziegler, 40. "We provide this endless feed of inspiration and interesting things to do."

Users can search what's going on by categories and dates, saving them on their "Stash Card," which is then shared with other users. You can also purchase tickets through the app, making it easier to select and then attend all the events you might otherwise have been alerted to or saved in different sites.

"All this great content lived in your inbox, it lived in your calendar, it lived in your Facebook events," said Ziegler, "so then we became a way to pretty much bring all these great events together so you didn't forget about it, stash them away and have this kind of social utility that gave you inspiration when you needed something fun to do or interesting."

Ziegler and company were part of a New York City-based crew of Internet pioneers back in the late 1990s, who created what they described as an early online iTunes.

They quit their jobs, raised an initial round of funding and launched Sound Load in 1999. Then the Internet bubble burst, and like many supposedly revolutionary websites at the time, they weren't able to raise a second round of funding.

Now more than 10 years later they are back together in what they see as a much-changed local tech scene.

"I think New York's finally become what it's always wanted to become tech-wise. We were the first tenant in 55 Broad Street, which was the first 'Wired' building," said Stash CEO Brad Galle, 44. "When I think back to then... they couldn't get the building filled. I think they ended up selling a bunch of floors to IBM.

"There just weren't enough start-up companies," he said. "There was very little capital floating around, angel investment was something that people met and talked about, but it didn't really happen much."

Now they have been able to raise $860,000 in about a year and are operating out of Alley NYC, a co-working space on 7th Avenue between West 37th and West 38th streets.

"Half the people here are one-person shops, so why wouldn't you just sit in your apartment? Why would you come in?" Galle asked. "It's because you kind of pull energy here out of the environment. It inspires you to get something done."

A few thousand people are already using the Stash app, and the designers hope to use these early adopters as test cases to help spread the word. So far it works only in New York and San Francisco but will expand to other cities as the user-base grows.

"If you're that new guy in the city, the greatest thing that can happen is that you've got five friends who are also on the app," Galle said. "Not only does it then go five steps above Yelp by having this interesting, semi-curated feed for you, but if you know that 'David' goes to good parties and 'David' goes to good gallery openings and you can look at what 'David' stored, that's a whole other level of vetting that happens to events."