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Zkipster app manning Oscar parties' velvet ropes

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Zkipster is aiming to make Oscars weekend a breeze for party planners across Los Angeles.

The company's cloud-based mobile application tracks guest lists, allowing event coordinators to swap cumbersome clipboards for iPads.

The app, also called Zkipster, will be in use at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party on March 2, among other events.  

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An add-on, zFace, uses the Bing search engine to append photographs of people to guest lists, allowing party organizers to confirm the identities of prospective attendees.

Using Zkipster and zFace together, organizers can check in guests to their events, and do so with the confidence that partygoers are who they say they are. 

"It closes the door for gate-crashing," said Zkipster co-founder David Becker. 

Becker, who started the New York company in 2012, said the idea for the application was born out of a frustrating experience he and an associate had while throwing a party in Zurich, Switzerland, in 2008.

"We had long lines, long waiting times -- it was really bad for the guests," said Becker, who is Swiss. He said that a 500-guest party requires a roughly 25-page paper list, which can be cumbersome. "It was a challenge and remains a huge challenge." 

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Becker launched Zkipster informally in 2009, but the app didn't take off until 2012, when the company moved its headquarters to New York. 

"We realized there is this problem all over the place -- in the entertainment business, in art, in the movie business," he said.

The Zkipster app is free to download, but there's a $75 fee to have a party's invite list configured for the service. It costs an additional $45 to add the zFace utility.  

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Becker said that the company has about 1,000 clients in 40 countries. Among Zkipster's users are foreign embassies, sports franchises and night clubs.

Citing confidentiality agreements, Becker declined to name other events that will use Zkipster during next week's run of Academy Awards-related parties.

But he said it would be used at several soirees, blocking the "squeaky wheels at the door and the sly sneaks who try to get into the hottest parties."

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