Coronavirus: Why this St. Louis startup is seeing a ‘peak of inquiries’ because of the outbreak

Originally published in the Saint Louis Business Journal

By Nathan Rubbelke - Reporter, St. Louis Business Journal

A St. Louis startup that specializes in video communication technology says it is seeing a “peak of inquiries” as companies pull back travel and cancel events amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The startup, Geniecast, bills itself as a “virtual experiences” firm, providing technology built to host events and speakers remotely.

"It happens that the whole idea of Geniecast was to help people that couldn’t be there to still be live and interactive. So, we’re a good solution for right now," said CEO Keith Alper.

The three-year-old startup’s platform includes access to so-called “Genies” — thought leaders, athletes and celebrities — that companies can hire remotely for speaking engagements designed to be cheaper than in-person speakers' fees. Geniecast also works with companies and organizations to help them produce and distribute video content.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Alper said his startup is seeing an influx of interest from companies trying to find alternatives because of canceled events and travel restrictions. He said the company also has started making outbound outreach as conventions and conferences are canceled nationwide.

“As people are either cancelling or postponing (events), we’re saying ‘hey, here’s another way to do it,’” said Alper. “We could be a good solution to them, but we want to be helpful to people. We’re actually taking calls to help counsel them without even charging any money."

It’s not just companies contacting Geniecast. Paid speakers have also reached out as they look for another option as in-person events are nixed, Alper said.

The inbound interest for Geniecast comes at a period of already rapid growth for the company. It doubled its sales year over year in 2019, Alper said. He declined to disclose specific sales totals.

Geniecast is part of St. Louis creative agency Nitrous Effect, which is also led by Alper. The company, which has a little more than 20 employees, is based at 555 Washington Ave., near America's Center downtown. Started in 2016, Geniecast was co-founded by Alper, author David Stillman and Steve Trampe, former chairman of Sequoia Sciences.

“As people are either cancelling or postponing (events), we’re saying ‘hey, here’s another way to do it,’” said Alper. “We could be a good solution to them, but we want to be helpful to people. We’re actually taking calls to help counsel them without even charging any money."

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