MarketInk: Social Media Startup Koji Launches ‘Audition’ Talent App

Dmitry Shapiro and Sean Thielen
Dmitry Shapiro (left) and Sean Thielen of Koji.

San Diego startup Koji, an app provider for creators and influencers on TikTok, Instagram, Twitch and other social media platforms, has launched “Audition,” a new app designed to help creators connect with candidates and find talent for their latest projects. The new app is free and available on the Koji App Store.

From finding musicians for new tracks, to casting talent for a film, or finding the next vocal sensation, creators can set the stage for their auditions by customizing the Audition app based on their creative needs, the company said.

Within the app, creators can upload a cover video, create a title, write a description for their project and upload zip files for applicants to review. Creators also can add a message letting people know what to expect after submitting an audition.

In addition, applicants can record and upload their video or audio recordings to the Audition app, as well as provide their contact information.

“Brands and creators are increasingly converting fans into collaborators by involving their audiences in content creation,” Koji co-founder Sean Thielen said in an email to Times of San Diego. “Audition, a new Koji link in Bio app, facilitates this in a powerful, frictionless way by giving creators the ability to prompt their audiences with a `casting call’ and easily review user submissions.”

Founded in 2021, Koji has raised $36 million in venture capital. The most recent funding was $20 million in Series B financing announced earlier this year.

Intesa Communications Adds Summer Bales as Account Manager

Intesa Communications Group, a San Diego-based strategic communications and government relations firm, has hired Summer Yousif Bales as an account manager on its government relations team.

Summer Bales

Previously, Bales was a policy coordinator for two years with the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, where she worked on veterans and military family policy issues, cannabis industry growth and educational efforts for small business capital opportunities. She also served as an immigration intern in 2018 and 2019 with the International Rescue Committee.

Bales graduated from the University of California San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and political science and a master’s degree from UCSD’s School of Global Policy and Strategy. At UCSD, she was a part-time teaching assistant for the “Culture and Society in an International Perspective” course and was a graduate student researcher on “How Civil Wars Start,” a book about nationalism, ethnic conflict and democratization.

Bales currently serves as a fellow at the San Diego Leadership Alliance, a group that helps emerging progressive leaders cultivate skills and relationships they need to make change for the San Diego region.

“Summer brings an incredible vibrance, intelligence and work ethic to everything she touches,” said Maddy Kilkenny, partner at Intesa. “She has already hit the ground running with many of the North County businesses we’re so proud to partner with, from universities and land developers, to hoteliers and non-profits.”

McCullough Landscape Picks Melanie Loria for Marketing Officer

McCullough Landscape Architecture of San Diego has named Melanie Loria as its new marketing and business development officer.

A company statement said Loria has a passion for creative design, project storytelling and connecting with the community. Her experience includes business development, rebranding, website design and management, social media strategy and execution, collateral design, writing and designing proposals, award nominations and training junior marketing team members.

“Melanie brings a rare combination of experienced leadership and fresh energy to her work,” said Catherine McCullough, president and CEO of McCullough Landscape Architecture. “The dynamic in our office has already been greatly enhanced by having Melanie on our team.”

Previously, Loria spent the past year as marketing manager for the NewSchool of Architecture & Design in San Diego. She also worked as a marketing specialist with the San Diego office of Gensler, a design and architectural firm.

In Boston, she worked as a senior marketing coordinator with J. Calnan & Associates, Inc., a construction management firm, and with Sasaki, a design firm specializing in architecture, interior design, urban design, space planning, landscape architecture, ecology and civil engineering.

An East Coast native, Loria earned a bachelor’s degree in business management and marketing from the University of Massachusetts Boston. She also has studied international marketing at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in Spain and fashion merchandising and communications at the University of Rhode Island.

She is a member of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, a networking organization for marketing and business development professionals who work in the architecture, engineering and construction industries.

Local Media San Diego Radio Presents BeerX Festival

Local Media San Diego, operators of four radio stations in San Diego, will present BeerX, a craft beer and music festival, from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20, at Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway.

The festival will include 100 craft beers from more than 50 local and regional breweries, plus live music from such artists as Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Chicano Batman, Pachyman, Smoke & Mirrors Sound System and Los Tortugas.

Unlimited craft beer sampling will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Bar service and food from local restaurants will be available until 9:45 p.m.

Tickets begin at $60 per person for general admission. A VIP admission package, costing $150 per person, includes early entrance at 1 p.m., private restrooms and front row seats for the concerts. All attendees must be at least 21 years old. For information, visit www.BeerXSanDiego.com.

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.

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