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Nude photo scandal boosts local startup's web traffic

October 13, 2014

Since starting an event-planning website called Snappening in 2011, Crystal Grave has been trying to reach a national audience with her Indianapolis-based company.

This past weekend, because of a nude-photo-leak scandal, she got some international attention.

“I got a Google alert, so I knew it was coming,” Graves told IBJ Monday morning. “I just didn’t know how big it would be.”

Late last week, various media outlets reported the leak of thousands of nude images sent via Snapchat, a mobile phone application known for its self-destructing messages. The scandal has been dubbed “The Snappening” after the “Fappening,” the moniker used for the high-profile iCloud nude celebrity photo leak that began Aug. 31.

Apparently, some browsers looking for explicit pictures stumbled upon Grave’s website. She didn’t mind the extra traffic and tried to make the most of it.

“I’m using it as an opportunity to make sure people know what our company does, even if they accidently find us,” she said.

Grave’s Snappening is a six-employee technology firm that connects event-site seekers with venues and planners. A person looking to host a restaurant party for 50 people in a certain ZIP code, for instance, can plug in those parameters, get a list of results and simultaneously contact those restaurants.

The website operates on a Freemium basis, in which some of the functionality is free, but consumers, event planners and venue managers are required to pay subscriptions for advanced features. The company has helped more than 250,000 users so far, Grave said.

Grave has been in Silicon Valley for about a month in a highly competitive accelerator program called Women’s Startup Lab. She’s looking to grow the company and get venture capital investments.

She said she was in Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, Calif., last Thursday when she got a Google alert for any news mentioning her company’s name. The alert wasn’t about her company, but it was about to affect it.

Graves estimated that some 100,000 visitors dropped by her site this past weekend, “a substantial increase over our normal daily web traffic,” she said.

She also said her team created a light-hearted illustration to address the scandal for her site’s users, roughly 90 percent of whom are women. It depicts a showering woman covered in bubbles with the caption “Don’t worry ladies … we’ve got you covered in all the right places.”

“It seemed like fun way to respond to both our regularly occurring audience and all of this new audience,” she said.

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