Zokos[1] is a new startup that aims to make it easier for people to connect in real life over food- by reducing what they have identified as the barriers to entertaining. Last week, the Brooklyn-based startup launched their first tool, a platform designed to help hosts manage an event and share the costs with their guests.

How it works: party hosts set a goal for the number of guests they would like to invite and the amount of money they need to cover the costs of the event.  Similar to  Kickstarter, guests must pay to RSVP, but are not charged until the goal has been met. Zokos charges a 3 percent fee and $.30 per guest.

Zokos grew out of co-founders Christopher Kieran, Bradley Baer and Andrew Hapkes experience as members of Veggie Dinners[2], a 300-person dinner club, while in graduate school at Yale.

We had a lot of fun in Veggie Dinner at Yale, said  Hapke, co-founder and chief marketing officer. We learned that with the right collaborative tools, people really start coming together and enjoying each others company more  often.

The co-founders learned the hard way that the Veggie Dinner model was too complicated to scale and built a platform that could facilitate human interaction through dinner parties, wine tastings, tailgating parties, cooking classes and more.

The dinner party market is a tough one. It will be certainly be interesting to see how Zokos fares in comparison to others like Housefed[3] and Gusta[4], who have developed similar products. Gusta offers more functionality like analytics, but charges a 10% transaction fee. Housefed is no longer in operation.

I spoke with Hapke to learn more about Zokos.


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