Chad Smith and Mark Brenneman Win Our Startup Bus/SXSW Contest

March 04, 2011
Written by
Rahim Sonawalla
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

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It’s our pleasure to announce that the winners of the Startup Bus/SXSW contest are Chad Smith and Mark Brenneman. This was a big contest for us. We were looking for not only a Twilio coder, but an ambassador—someone that would tweet, blog, record video, and help the teams on the Startup Bus make amazing things in the three days they’re given. We think Chad and Mark will do us proud.

Chad created Conference Tag, a site where people can set up conferences, and then send the information out through a 2D barcode. There’s no need for the participants to remember which number to dial, nor access code to punch in—they just scan the barcode and they’re connected to the call. Here’s how Chad describes his entry:

“The app I submitted combines Twilio and 2D barcodes to make it easy for businesses to organize and participate in conference calls. I got the idea last Tuesday when I was on a call where several people lost or misunderstood the instructions to dial in. I figured it would be cool (and save a lot of time) if we could just scan a barcode to be connected to the call.

“I built a prototype in PHP/MySQL, then wrote the current version of the site using node.js, jQuery Mobile, CouchDB and Twimlets. The app uses the Microsoft Tag API to generate unique barcodes for each conference, which send the conference and device ids to a webhook when scanned.

“The application is currently invite only while I develop a better interface and figure out pricing. Integrating Microsoft Tag and Twilio into a service was actually very easy. I spent more time testing the app and learning jQuery Mobile than I did coding.”

Mark created TextMob, an easy way for groups to communicate through SMS groups.

What’s the back story of your submission? When/how/why was it started? How are things going? Future plans?

My app started from a small trip to Tahoe. 100 inches of snow had fallen at Squaw and Presidents Day Weekend was fast approaching. I knew many friends were planning on going to the mountain, but didn’t know where they would be or their plans. A few friends and I have setup Groupme groups that have worked well, but I would need everyone’s phone number to enter them into a group. I just wanted a simple RSVP webpage that also entered the submitter into an SMS group. The members could organize through SMS before the trip, coordinate during the trip, and share stories after. In a few hours I made a single page to do this.

After the page was created many friends approached me saying they wanted a similar page for a reunion/wedding/trip approaching. I figured I would just make a scalable app to do it. Textmob was born.

In the future, I think this could be built into an event planning system. If someone is planning a Vegas trip they might want to easily enter the attendees in an SMS group. Oftentimes, the invitation and RSVP is only the beginning. By integrating an easy communication channel, people can easily get ready for the trip or event (whether it is a ski weekend, bachelor trip, or wine country excursion).

What technologies are you using to build/support it?

The app uses Google App Engine and Twilio. Also, the SMS groups are maintained by Groupme (my Twilio number sets up the SMS group using Groupme).

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

Integrating Twilio was quite easy. I have made a few other SMS applications and have always been impressed with the ease of use.

How did you get started developing with Twilio?

I discovered Twilio through Dave McClure. He was raging about the platform and I decided to take a look. The first application I built was an intelligent voicemail system.

Anything else you’d like to share or promote. Screenshots and/or screencasts are particularly helpful.

I have worked on a few other projects:
1. I made an SMS buzzer system for our house
2. Smart voicemail system

Chad and Mark will be on the Miami and Cleveland Startup Bus, so be sure to say hi! Follow Chad at @chadsmith, and Mark at @marksbren.