RollCallMe.com makes it easy to collect the contact info from everyone in the room, fast, by text message. It replaces sign-up sheets and business cards at the same time. The website looks gorgeous, the system works smoothly with all cell phones, and we’re taking money from customers. We also built it in a weekend.
Here’s how it works:
Let’s say you’re hosting an event, like a Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) meeting tonight. Before the meeting, you create a list code word “PTA” at RollCallMe.com. Once at the meeting, you tell everyone attending to text the word “PTA” to 917-746-0007. You’ll immediately get their numbers and emails added to your list at RollCallMe.com. Create other lists to have people sign up for committees.
Finally, RollCallMe can be used in place of a business card by everyone attending the PTA meeting. Moms and Dads can create their own RollCallMe name and exchange those instead of business cards through RollCallMe. You can try it now: if you text “Arshad” to 917-746-0007, you’ll get my email and number right now. I’ll get your info too. (Actually, I’ll only get your cell number. RollCallMe will follow up asking for your email. RollCallMe will remember all your contact info from then on.)
How We Built it:
Technology wise, we coded it in Ruby on Rails, designed the front end using Bootstrap from Twitter, hooked up Stripe to process credit cards, and we run all our text messages through Twilio.
I was able to build RollCallMe in a weekend because I worked with a world-class developer, Trace Wax (@tracedwax); we used open source tools; we leveraged great developer-friendly platforms, and – this is most important – because I work in a shared workspace called Dogpatch Labs.
Dogpatch Labs is by no means normal. It’s a small, tight community of tech entrepreneurs who love to help each other. Our hosts at Polaris Ventures let us work here for free and they encourage collaboration. RollCallMe is a real example of our collaborative culture. My tech lead, Trace Wax, and I both have day jobs, which ironically involved working at competing startups. My company is ClearGears, and his is DueProps. Both seek new ways to encourage employee feedback and recognition. Nonetheless, when I ran my idea past Trace, he was more than happy to take a weekend to start building it out.
When we needed a designer, we just walked across the room. When we needed a second developer we walked across the room in another direction. We had to reach outside of Dogpatch to bring in a front-end developer, but even then it was a friend of our in-house development team’s. Everything was done within 300 square feet.
What I learned
First, talented developers are critical to starting any project. Setting up the right development environment, making smart decisions early on, and having lots of experience all makes the process smoother. Second, working side-by-side is the fastest, best way to build a business. Third, great products don’t have to be complicated.
To create your own RollCallMe list:
1. Add 917 746 0007 to your phone’s contacts as RollCallMe. (I know, it needs to be shorter, but for now we’re using this.)
2. Text “new” to the RollCallMe number
3. Follow the instructions to pick a code word.