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Photography by Greg Powers

by Sam Hiersteiner | DC magazine | October 29, 2012

“I’m waiting for a call from the Latin Grammys. It’s a 1,300-person event!” yelps Dan (pronounced Don) Berger, who recently launched the event-planning startup Social Tables.

The new venture represents a perfect confluence of skills for this former Capitol Hill-ite, an erstwhile web designer who transitioned after college to a spot on Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel’s staff. “I was the only white, Jewish guy on staff, but I worked my way into the inner circle,” he says. “I planned the events.”

While the frenetic pace of congressional and campaign events kept Berger busy, he longed for better business acumen, so he left to pursue an MBA at Georgetown and, later, a post at Booz Allen Hamilton. “I was constantly coming up with entrepreneurial ideas,” he says of that time. “I wanted to build an alarm clock that wakes you up with scents and Barry White music.”

By early 2011, Berger had stumbled onto the idea for Social Tables, an elegant platform where professionals and novices alike manage guest lists, create floor plans and seating charts, and collaborate with vendors and friends. “The idea is to socialize events and eliminate missed opportunities for guests,” says Berger. “We’re also providing support for event professionals, because no one else does, and we’re passionate about helping them bring their visions to life.”

Nearly 5,000 events hosting more than 148,000 attendees have been planned using the site and app. Venture capital firms have taken note, kicking in $500,000 in growth funds. And what of the Latin Grammys? The Social Tables team won the business. “It really hit me when I was using the site to seat Shakira,” Berger muses. Looks like he’s found his app-titude.

Berger’s Hots
Standard for barbecue on Sundays; Fast Gourmet’s meatball sandwich; Federal for great togs; The Fort; food trucks at Farragut Square

Berger’s Nots
DC on a federal holiday, which makes it appear like a ghost town; bars with too many TVs; Connecticut Avenue on a weekend night