This was a group texting solution. The concept was simple: Create a group of your mobile friends, and allow you to text all of them with a single text from your phone. A friend and I thought of this idea and then decided to implement it.
It was a novel idea at the time. So much about success in the software business is about timing. Right at the time we launched it, Group Me came out, subsequently acquired by Skype, and Beluga, subsequently acquired by Facebook. Nonetheless, we still got positive traction, being featured in the Webby’s, Business.com’s Business ShortList and KillerStartups, to name a few. At one time our platform was processing hundreds of SMS’s per day. Our biggest traction was within the educational market, being used both by the schools and the students. A teacher could easily text out “Don’t forget your homework assignment is due tomorrow” and have it instantly delivered to the entire class.
Also unique to our platform was our use of multiple SMS gateways around the world. This allowed the system to use the most cost-effective gateway to deliver the message. You could even have members in your group from multiple locations around the world and each may get their message delivered via a different gateway.
The platform was developed in PHP and used the Smarty templates. The back-end was mysql. Even though we logged all transactions, the DB requirement was fairly small so not too much to note regarding any scalability. The beauty here of the LAMP stack was we could run it on a low end rackspace cloud offering and even on big publicity days, we never ran into any server limitation issues.
Although the site grew organically through what you could almost call a grass roots movement, we just did not have the capital that came with Skype or Facebook and certainly had nothing approaching that kind of marketing budget.
I’ve left out the name of the site in deference to the fact that we got acquired. No, nothing along the scale of a Facebook or Skype acquisition, but we’re hopeful that the new owner has the funds to propel even greater adoption.
All in all, it was a great project and a great learning experience.