Blackbird Brings the Message

By Jane Whitttington on September 7th, 2016 / Comments

Blackbird can refer to a species of Old World or New World bird. It is the name of a 1986 novel by Larry Duplechan and a 2000 memoir by Jennifer Lauch. Blackbird is a town in Delaware and a winery in California. It’s a Finnish football team and also a steam locomotive. It’s a song by the Beatles and a chief of the Omaha Band of Native Americans.

Now a new Blackbird is joining the list: Blackbird RSVP is a start-up in Grand Rapids designed to simplify and streamline party and event planning. With Blackbird RSVP, event planners, whether they are planning a huge corporate event or a simple birthday party, have access to a website that will allow them to design and send out online invitations, promote events, and keep track of attendees as well as continually add, edit or move information.

Laura Vaughn, Founder of Blackbird, says, “I started with Sitting in a Tree, an online service that allows couples to create wedding websites to share with friends and family. These wedding websites allow guests a way to easily RSVP as well as a access an easily accessible place to gather information about the event such as where the couple is registered, a map to the venue, and information about local hotels and restaurants.”

She continues, “I discovered that people were using Sitting in a Tree but adapting it to use for events other than weddings. It was a flexible enough website that this was pretty easy to do. This gave me the idea for Blackbird RSVP. I developed Blackbird and will be moving Sitting in a Tree under the Blackbird umbrella.”

Their website shows samples of their work and even gives users the opportunity to create their own iteration just to see what it’s like to work with the system. Users can choose from stock photography exclusive to Blackbird or they may incorporate their own photos. The templates available are mobile responsive and look good on any device.

Once the design is created and published, it becomes “self-service” and is managed by the user who purchased the product. It can be edited at any time, so it is responsive to changes and updates.

Vaughn says, “The page can stay online as long as the user wants—they pay per event. We also have some corporate clients who pay a monthly fee for unlimited use. The website can even be adapted to sell tickets.”

She continues, “We’ve been working with Collective Idea in Holland, a software development team that has helped use create the newest version of Blackbird. We received financial assistance from Start Garden and from Invest Detroit. We’ve also been helped by many people in the community who have been very generous with their time and talent.”

Vaughn has a creative group of friends and advisors with skills in photography and design. They help her create a dynamic and inviting array of photos and design elements that enhance both the templates and the add-on elements of website creation for the client.

With an office in the Start Garden shared space, a robust start-up network in the community, and Vaughn’s imagination and ambition, Blackbird is soaring.

About the Author

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Grand Rapids. A Michigan native and Michigan State University grad, she enjoys reading, travel, politics and volunteering.