In the days prior to wide smartphone adoption it was hard to find deals on meals and drinks as broke college students on the go.
SMS bottlecap logo
In order to enable restaurants and bars to reach out to college age customers Adam Maus and I created a custom text message gateway integrated with an application and website. These businesses could upload information about their menus and weekly specials and then share them with interested customers by sending out a text message blast.
SMS welcome screen
SMS gateway services existed at the time, but they were very expensive (i.e., you had to pay for each text). To avoid paying per text we got an android smartphone and had it serve as the text message router. We had a webservice that would pass information to an app on the smartphone which would then send text messages using its unlimited data and text plan.
SMS messaging screen
Ultimately, while we were technically successful this project didn’t really go anywhere. We were not addressing a pain point that businesses in Madison were experiencing. Students would have benefited, but they weren’t our “customers”. Cautionary tale on doing good customer discovery and working hard to achieve product-market fit. That’s more important than cool technology.