The hills are alive…with the sounds of Dane Suarez

Have I ever told you guys the Pelonkey-Dane Suarez love story? It happened one day before Christmas, in the warmth of the office…

Dane, participated in our office 1776’s Random Acts of Culture by serenading the entire 12th floor with his tenor voice and Christmas carols. Pelonkey was mesmerized, we had to have him for a NYE event, and the rest is history. Read Dane’s full interview below.

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What genre of music do you perform?

[Laughing] I do everything. I started out in choir, and from there I went to school for music, receiving my undergrad degree at Butler and a Masters Degree at the University of Illinois in Voice Performance. When I was in college I did a cappella, which is where my pop background comes from. I taught myself piano as a freshman in high school, then took lessons a year or two after, and I am classically trained now. I performed at a piano lounge for probably five or six years, playing & singing. But I’m also a classically trained opera singer, which is [oh, right, nbd] kind of my main career.

What operas do you sing for? [Is that even how you phrase that question?]

Being an opera singer is kind of a freelance thing. As of right now, I have six really big gigs lined up in 2016. I recently performed with the Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center [in Appamatox]. It was my premiere there, which was pretty cool. I do a lot of traveling. Up next I’m performing in NY, then Memphis, then Colorado.

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How do you find those opportunities as a freelancer? 

I go to a lot of auditions in NY. Most [openings] post an opportunity, I apply, and then audition in person. Some gigs are with people I’ve worked with before asking me to do new [roles or performances].

So tell us about the New Year’s Eve gig you got through Pelonkey.

I was doing an outreach event for the Washington Concert Opera [at 1776]. During their lunch break, I sang an opera aria and a Christmas song. Pelonkey approached and asked if I had a New Year’s Eve gig lined up already and if I played piano. [He hadn’t, and he did. Bingo! Booked for Big Night Baltimore.]

There was a lot going on [at BNB], my room was the chill room, where people could come and have a drink, chill out, sing along with me. Outside my room, there was a huge ballroom that had a DJ going all night long, a room that had multiple bands playing sets throughout the night, a guy playing an acoustic guitar, a smaller DJ dance room, and my room was me and the piano. It was a “choose your own NYE event.”

People would want to take a break from the loud noise, come into my room, and sing along. I was trying out some new stuff, everything from Adele to Billy Joel to… I don’t know, trying to throw a little of everything in there.

What do you have coming up?

As far as my opera career goes, I have a lot coming up. My debut with Loft Opera in NYC is in March [in Tosca]. Then I go directly to Opera Memphis for Carmen, then I will be in Colorado for La bohème, and back in Memphis in the fall for their “30 Days of Opera.” They have pop-up events all around the city every single day of September. [They perform any place you can think of, Whole Foods, the library, the street, wherever.] It’s not my first time doing random stuff.

Top two songs on your playlist right now

Adele, “When We Were Young”

Puccini, “Vissi d’arte” from Tosca

Where can we check out more of your stuff?

Pelonkey.com, danesuarez.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Is Dane not the sweetest?? Answer: he is. A lovely guy with a lovely voice. And so multi-talented. That’s what Pelonkey is all about, yo! Great talent for dayyyyyys. Would be great to serenade you and/or your office, loved one, whoever, for Valentine’s Day, just sayin’… Book him now! Thank us later.

Stone Driver steers into our hearts… and the National Archives

Let me break it down for ya: One live band + Roaming performers + Open bar + Close vicinity to some seriously important historical documents = A chance to party all night long with the Declaration of Independence. ROCK ON

The August MES Mixer will be held at The National Archives this coming Wednesday. The Archives is a pretty sweet place, no? Well, we’re about to spice it up. With music. Rock music. Echoing through the halls and reverberating off The Constitution. Enter Stone Driver.

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The band is made up of members Chad Lesch, Tim Boyer, John Gossart, and Dan Epley, and in their own words, their music is “meaningful, relevant, and real.” It has taken them to venues across the area and featured them in media outlets around the world. Next in line to hear the crooners is the National Archives. Talk about a prominent US stage.

Besides knowing them personally (whaddup, 1776!), we also know their music. In fact, it was the soundtrack to Nicole & Danielle’s SXSW road trip. And it is good. It makes you wanna just, get down and jam, man. I mean, they categorize it as Space Grunge. That’s definitely something you want to listen to, right?

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They’ve been supporters of Pelonkey from the beginning, and we are oh-so-proud to feature them as our hard-working, hard-rocking live band entertainer of the week. (And after Wednesday, we promise they’ll become the entertainer of your hearts.)

Have you RSVP’d to the MES Mixer yet? Why would you want to miss the chance to party with Stone Driver & all our other awesome performers? Huh?? Why?! Why would you do that?!

See ya there 😉

Meet the super cool Pelonkey people

A lot of companies are pretty faceless, dontcha think? It’s rare that you get to see the masters behind the logo, but we all know when you do, it makes the company so much more real. (This is the true story of seven strangers, picked to live in a house… <– That kind of real.) Up the personal factor, see who you are working with, and the “working” part becomes a lot more fun. In the startup circle of life, Pelonkey is in the foal-learning-how-to-run stage, and we are made up of just six faces (sans development team and advisory board), so when you are working with us, you really are working with us. And “us” is a pretty sweet group of people.

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Nicole is our CEO. You may know her as DJ Neekola. We know her as someone who never sleeps, lives off coffee, and would narrate her entire life with an EDM soundtrack if she could. She’s our people-person, our partnership-making queen. Which is the role you’d expect of a CEO, except she’s actually awesome at it. People who meet her can’t help but love her. Which, whew, is a huge help, let’s be honest.

Ciera is our COO. Nicole knows her as her younger sister. The rest of us know her as the competitive, flag-football-playing wisp of a thing who knows more about negotiating the proper rate of a wedding DJ for a six-hour reception than, let’s face it, Google does. Ciera is so organized it’d make Staples jealous, and you can bet she is on top of every nook & cranny of the Pelonkey process.

Danielle is our Special Projects Manager. You know her as the omnipresent voice of the Pelonkey social media. We know her as someone who takes an inordinate number of bathroom selfies and can smell free food a mile away. She’s never without a song recommendation or a “let’s try something new and see how it works” idea about how to make Pelonkey awesome.

Puneet is one-third of our interns. We fondly call him our “office bro” because there’s nobody he can’t have a real, down-to-earth conversation with. When not calling our users and getting them pumped about the site, he has been conducting our market research like a champ.

Ali makes up another one-third of our interns. He was a key part of the beta testing process, running scripts, testing features and site processes, and intricately recording all the results so we knew exactly what needed our attention most.

Brook is the final one-third of our interns. She is our journalistic, international relations butterfly, always surprising us with connections she has made as a correspondent for media outlets both here and in China. She is a constant brainstorm of marketing, outreach, and user experience ideas.

All that said, titles are a formality here; we all do everything with hands in so many honey pots it’d make Pooh Bear jealous. But behind the “Pelonkey Team” title, we are a group of friends who make coming to work, dare we say it, fun.

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We work out of tech incubator 1776, with lots of like-minded startup individuals and a laid-back yet hard-working atmosphere. We have so many ideas for the kind of office culture we want to adopt when we land our own space (read: Zappos is our role model), but for now, the resources and character at 1776 are more than accommodating, they’re awesome.

We have a work hard/play hard mentality. After all, we are an entertainment company. So you know we know where the party’s at. But we earn our free time, and then it’s back to work on Monday (Tuesday, Friday, Sunday, really seven days a week…), and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Pelonkey is in Washington Life Magazine!

Have you checked out Washington Life Magazine‘s latest November issue? A write-up was done at our amazing tech startup incubator, 1776, and the Pelonkey sisters are featured!

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Check out the article online here!

Pelonkey’s DJ Phlipz spins for End Game!

Last month, Pelonkey‘s stellar DJ Phlipz spun a great mix of tunes for the engineers at End Game! The company decided to party and network at the Key Bridge Marriott and sought out Pelonkey’s great music services as a referral from 1776, our awesome startup incubator and co-working space here in DC!

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Phlipz had a blast helping all the engineers feel comfortable and energized! End Game had a great group of people, and Phlipz was happy to provide some sweet background jams for them to party to – thanks so much to End Game for having Phlipz! And thank you to 1776 for referring Pelonkey!

Want to book Phlipz for your next event? Hit up Pelonkey’s Ciera Gallub at ciera@pelonkey.com for more deets!

What we learned in Vegas at Tech Cocktail Celebrate

The Pelonkey Team had an amazing time out in Vegas this past week for Tech Cocktail Celebrate! We easily had the coolest booth at the expo, and Max Major and DJ Neekola tore up the pitch competition, impressing all the attendees, judges, and mentors with their passion and vision for the company.

We learned some very important tips and lessons from the many great speakers and panelists at the conference, including 1776 Co-Founder, Donna Harris! Some of these pointers that we felt were especially applicable for our company, we have shared below.

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1. Make your own path. We do not want to mimic or follow the rules and boundaries set by other companies, whether similar to Pelonkey’s goals or not. Pelonkey plans to completely revolutionize the event and entertainment industry, changing the way entertainers and party planners do biz together – that will take risks and traveling down the unbeaten path, a challenge we are more than excited to face!

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2. Be selective about whom you choose to partner with. The Pelonkey Team has worked very hard to bring our customers only the best in local partnerships for the company. We chose one of the most popular night venues in the city, Heist, to host our awesome entertainer events at; the Beat Refinery DJ school offers discounted classes and sessions to local DJs, who can also test to become Beat Refinery certified; Chuck Levin’s offers discounted equipment specials to Pelonkey musicians; Digital DC is our connect with the local DC government; EventsDC brings Pelonkey all the latest in events around the area as well as an in to the party planner side of things. We are always looking out for the best interests of our Pelonkey peeps!

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3. Know your audience and constantly customize your product to their needs. We want to know all the good stuff as well as what we can improve on here at Pelonkey – please reach out to us with any feedback! This site is for you all, so we want it to be the best experience possible.

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4. Be responsive on social media. Pelonkey’s company values focus our priorities on customer service. If you need something, we try to be as accessible as possible to your request, whether it’s in a tweet, email, FB message, text, you name it!

There are many other awesome tips we received from the pros at the Celebrate Conference, and we wanted to outline these four super important lessons we learned for all of our great supporters and users! Vegas was awesome, and we can’t wait to launch Pelonkey officially in early 2015! For more deets into what we did while at Tech Cocktail Celebrate, check out our previous blog post here.

Pelonkey goes to Vegas for Tech Cocktail Celebrate next week!

It’s the conference we have all been waiting for – Tech Cocktail Celebrate! This is a nation-wide expo and pitch competition that gathers in Vegas to see who the hottest showcasing startup is. Back in July, Neekola took Pelonkey out to Vegas for Tech Cocktail Week and won that competition, earning Pelonkey the chance to pitch with double the competition to national investors, techies, and other important people in the tech world next week!

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Tech Cocktail Celebrate is completely worthwhile with everything that it offers to both its competitors and participants. The conference presents a fantastic line up of speakers from companies like Zappos, SmartThings, and KISSmetrics to name a few. David Copperfield will be speaking as well, which is super exciting! For the competitors, there are also over 30 mentors available for personal business sessions, including 1776‘s own Donna Harris! Aside from an awesome expo opportunity that Pelonkey plans to take full advantage of, there will also be unlimited networking opportunities as well as fun parties and classes to attend.

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Pelonkey is the only startup represented from Washington, DC that is competing for the pitch presentations! Follow our other Pelonkey social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for some great updates throughout the conference! DJ Neekola and Max Major will also be live posting from their social media accounts as well, and as a general following, check out the Twitter hashtag #CelebrateConf to keep up with all of the awesome events. It will be almost as if you were there yourself! We will keep you all updated on how Pelonkey does in the competition as the conference unfolds.

Digital DC teams up with Pelonkey for the Summer Kickoff Reception at Capitale!

Last month, Pelonkey provided two of our awesome DC DJs, DJ Costi and DJ Hi Def, to mix and mash up some super dope beats for Digital DC‘s Summer Kickoff Reception!

Hosted by Carlos Gray, Mayor Vincent Gray‘s son, the event brought together awesome people from the DC government, including 1776 mentor Erin Horne McKinney!

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Starting off the night was Pelonkey’s DJ Costi, feeling out the crowd with some upbeat lounge and house music. Halfway through, DJ Hi Def kicked into club mode, mixing in some hip hop and a little modern house. What a great vibe from the two of them!

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Capitale proved to be an excellent space for the networking party, which consisted of NFL Pro Sports, startups (mostly from WeWork, another event sponsor), and real estate members.

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St. Louis Rams Safety, Rodney McLeod, was in attendance with a few of his football buddies, attracting quite a crowd!

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With Lulu’s ice cream also in attendance sharing the delicious love, it was quite a successful event all around!

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Pelonkey was happy to be a part of the Summer Kickoff Reception!

President Obama Visits 1776 to Chat Tech with Local Startups!

Earlier this month, the President of the United States stopped in a for a surprise visit to Pelonkey‘s incubator, 1776 DC!

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Word got out that President Obama himself would be greeting some local DC startups, and the tech incubator was packed to the brim with eager people!

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See the awesome 1776 news post documenting the experience, which truly was an adventure!

1776 DC Member Spotlight on Pelonkey!

Pelonkey’s startup incubator, 1776, did a spotlight blog on our very own CEO, Nicole Gallub!

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With emphasis on her other full-time job as DJ Neekola, 1776 did a quick interview with her, asking questions about Pelonkey, the startup life, our awesome partnerships with the Beat Refinery DJ school and Heist Lounge, as well as her work-life balance between running Pelonkey and her DJ Career.

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Check out the article, and tell us what you think!