SkaFlash Connects Fans with Bands Through Twilio SMS #twiliosxsw #sxsw

Developer Geoffrey Simpson

Freshly launched at SXSW, SkaFlash is changing the way bands connect with their fans on the fly with Twilio SMS. Created and coded by Geoffrey Simpson and the frontman for Austin rockers Alpha Rev Casey McPherson, the band management app is gearing up to take SXSW Music by storm. This team is fresh off a victory from our SXSW DOer developer contest and jumping in to hustle for SkaFlash and meet emerging musical talent. Check out our interview with Simpson and McPherson about how SkaFlash got started and where they are going next.

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What inspired you to build SkaFlash?

Connections made between companies, organizations, bands, and people are critical, especially with up-and-coming local bands. Even with Facebook and Twitter, many bands are still looking for better ways to reach out and connect with their fans individually. Email continues to stand as the best way for that.

Unfortunately, most bands rely on an archaic system of a simple pad of paper located at a merchandise booth to create mailing lists to connect with fans.  When playing in front of thousands of fans, this method often only supplies bands with 1-5% of their fans contact information, even though most fans want to be in the know. Casey decided to fix this problem for his own fans.

How did SkaFlash begin?

Casey heard about Twilio from a friend and knew if he could find a way for his fans to use their mobile phones to connect with their fans, the barrier to connection could be removed.

Through the Twilio Gallery, Casey found me through my apps Diner Connection and ConnectedToUS. We discussed the goals and began to build immediately.

The first true test of SkaFlash came when he was performing an acoustic set for a smaller crowd.  When asked to text their email to SkaFlash to keep in touch with the band, more than 50% did just that. We learned first, fans are willing to text their email in to get on a mailing list and that SkaFlash actually worked.

What technologies are you using to build and support SkaFlash?

We stayed with the Microsoft stack because of the tremendous support we received through the BizSpark program.  My company Moxie Software moved to Rackspace hosting within the past 6 months, and being able to combine the best of hosting with enterprise level hosting has given us a rock solid platform.

The web application is created in Asp.Net MVC with jQuery on the front end.  The database is Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2. And of course, SMS powered by Twilio.

Here’s a screencast of the app in action:

How did you get started building with Twilio?

I have been a Twilio developer for several years now, using Twilio in my products and doing custom development for other people and organizations.  Diner Connection is a Twilio-powered app that uses SMS integrated with wait-list software for restaurants. The companion product to Diner Connection is ConnectedToUs for business that don’t fall into the restaurant category.

How was the experience of integrating Twilio with your chosen tools and technologies?

Over the past year, we have had the “opportunity” to work with some of the Twilio competitors. I can honestly say that Twilio is hands down the best telephony API and the most stable service of all of the telephony APIs available.

Any great band stories?

This one time, at band camp…

But from Casey –  Not many that I can talk about in public. I will mention one though. We use to tour in an ice cream truck. It had lawn chairs for seating, and a freezer with 2 year old ice cream in it. There was a rule that you never, ever, open the freezer. Every two hours or so, we had to stop at a gas station due to it over heating. It had a water leak, which caused an oil leak, which caused a gas leak, which caused a fire on Interstate 10 where we left her – God rest her sweet beat up soul.

What are you most excited about for SXSW?

I love Austin and I look forward to every opportunity I have to get down there.  Being a developer in the Midwest, SXSW gives me an opportunity to interact with the companies and people I do business with that are on the coasts.

Casey is stoked to introduce SkaFlash to managers and music business professionals. He says he’s never believed in an idea so much since he started a band.

What are your future plans for the product?

We’re going to release it to tastemakers in the industry first so they can help us hone the app into what it will ultimately become. We are both pretty flexible guys so I think we’ll let the response and market help tell us where and when we go and do.