Tina Fitch: From Farm To Tech Tina Fitch: From Farm To Tech Sometimes it takes going back to your roots – literally – to find your calling. That can be said of Tina Fitch, CEO and co-founder of Hobnob Invites, a mobile-first app that lets you send out invitations for any and every kind of event you can imagine. More on the app later. Let’s first talk about how this Hawaiian found inspiration while digging around in the local island soil. Actually, let’s backtrack even a little further than that. Before her latest venture, Fitch had been working intensively on Switchfly, a travel technology startup that she nurtured from inception to full bloom. With much hard work, Switchfly became a leading global SaaS platform that was operated in over 50 countries and by almost every single travel agency in existence. The startup was founded in Hawaii, but for it to grow effectively Fitch had to relocate herself and the business to San Francisco. “During that time, I was pretty myopic on my business and the technology specific to it,” says Fitch. “I felt a need to feel more grounded and connected to my philanthropic (and other) interests for a while.” So she uprooted from Silicon Valley and replanted herself in Hawaii, where she took up a plot of farmland. It was in this low key, grounded interim where Fitch rediscovered her passion for the tech world and came up with the idea of Hobnob. “Being so removed from the world made me cherish the role technology plays in our lives even more,” says Fitch. “I was able to step back and be a user of technology, and I was able to identify what I saw as gaps in the market. One of those was that I wanted to be able to privately share my gatherings and memories with different groups of my friends, but to do it away from mainstream social media.” Yes, our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds certainly play an important role in our lives, but for being “social” websites, they can often feel like a one-woman basement broadcast show versus a true reflection of our social graph. “I found it ironic that as ‘virtually’ connected as technology makes us feel, it hadn’t progressed much in making us more connected with others in real life,” says Fitch. “During my ‘startup detox,’ I had come to realize how much I’d neglected my personal connections during my startup years, and how that had really harmed my perspective.” So, being a product-driven builder at heart, and re-charged in her love of technology, Fitch created a solution to the social gap: Hobnob Invites. The app is straightforward in its design and purpose. Simply input the details, select a pre-designed digital cover (or your own), and then send to guests who can then RSVP from email, text or within the app. Communication before, during, and after the event is also made easy through the app. Once the event is over, it’s stored in the app – along with commentary – thereby serving as a virtual “memory” you can revisit any time you wish. Fitch describes Hobnob as an extension of the broad diversity and creative spirit of Hawaii, in general. Hawaii, she says encourages congregation and community effort, and the app reflects that cultural experience. For example, Hobnob’s user base is incredibly varied, as are the type of events people host. From fashion designers putting on post-NYFW parties to guys throwing a poker night, from Tuesday book club meetings to a romantic dinner for two, there are no confines. All the app asks is that you bring your social network from the internet realm to an actual space to create lasting memories. “A lot of people – especially nowadays – are craving that real human interaction and connection,” says Fitch. “We are not encouraging people to stay in their silos; we are using technology to make it effortless to get together and spend time with the people and causes you care about.” With $2.25 million of seed capital invested in Hobnob Invites by five top venture capitalists – and a user base that’s expanding organically every day – it’s easy to see this app growing tall in the months and years to come. Wendy Rose Gould Wendy Rose Gould is a reporter based in Phoenix, Arizona. She covers women’s lifestyle topics for numerous digital publications, including Refinery29, InStyle, xoVain, Headspace, PopSugar and ModCloth. You can learn more about her at WendyGould.com.