DOer of the Month: Charlton Roberts of Order Mapper

Charlton Roberts, lead developer at Order Mapper served up some great applications for a good cause alongside Order Mapper CEO, Jim Bricker. Charlton was instrumental in creating Need Mapper, a service that helped connect Hurricane Sandy victims in need with volunteers.

We spoke to Charlton about how he’s using Twilio, and what’s in the works for Order Mapper.

When did you first start using Twilio?

About 6 weeks ago. As a developer for Order Mapper, I had developed some modules for our platform in the weeks preceding Hurricane Sandy, so when we decided to start Need Mapper, I was familiar enough with the API that I was able to get the system up in about a day and a half. Order Mapper began using Twilio in August of 2009.

What are some of your favorite projects you built with Twilio?
Need Mapper has been the most in-depth project I have built to date, but having built its interactive text system, I have a new appreciation for the ubiquity and ease of SMS. I’ve started on a few new modules to add to Order Mapper’s system that will definitely improve our relationship with customers and business owners alike. I think I’m only now starting to grasp how powerful Twilio’s automated communication can be.

Order Mapper has leveraged Twilio to provide interactive calls to more than 1/3 of all pizzerias in the US on our app Order Pizza. It is the backbone of our system, as it allows us to connect our users with the items they want to order.

What was the motivation or “aha” moment behind building Need Mapper or your Order Beer app?

We have a friend, Jenn Turliuk, who we met at our Dallas-based startup accelerator, Tech Wildcatters, this summer. She came to us with the idea of a system that could allow Sandy victims to solicit help via text message, since many of them were out of power and internet. More importantly though, the system could interact with those victims to ascertain their location and information, as well as keep the system updated on the status of those needs and when they had been fulfilled. I was able to bring development resources, Jim has experience with building Order Mapper a similar platform, and Jenn was able to get the word out quickly to volunteers, aid organizations, people in need and the press (Forbes, Venture Beat, New York Times). Personally, I have friends in New York, and I saw Need Mapper as one of the few ways I could help them from thousands of miles away.

What technology did you use to build Need Mapper and what languages did you use?
Ruby on Rails (Amazon EC2, Nginx, Passenger) backend, HTML5/CSS3/JavaScript front-end. We also now have a Spanish version for victims of the earthquakes in Guatemala on Heroku, because they have generously offered us some hosting credit.

Are there any other projects you have in the works?
We’re launching our new HTML5 version of the Order Pizza mobile app very soon. It will offer a great way to discover and order pizza from any pizzeria in the country. In addition, it will offer a cheap and easy-to-use way for business owners to give their customers a mobile ordering experience without having to make their own app.

Parting words?
We’ve enjoyed a lot of success with our Dallas-based Order Beer app, which launched about a month ago. Its pretty cool to tap a few buttons and have beer show up at your door. And as I mentioned we’ll also be releasing a major update to our Order Pizza app very soon.

We interviewed Order Mapper and featured their developer profiles on the front page of the DOer Gallery. If  you’d like to share your story on the blog, create your DOer profile and email