Phonevite, a Los Angeles company that lets you record and then blast voice invites to your friends’ phones, has just launched a test version of its site.
It’s the latest twist on Internet telephony, and comes from two employees who worked at Dialpad, an early Internet company that was recently bought by Yahoo. They’re trying their luck, now that their other former Dialpad colleagues achieved success with GrandCentral, recently acquired by Google.
One-to-many voice invite services exist, but they are expensive and generally only available to large companies. Email works for invites, but can be unruly to manage. Some email filters treat these invites as spam, and the invites get buried.
Phonevite, which is free, is a light-weight alternative. It’s straightforward, as this eight-minute screencast shows. You record an invite over a regular phone, and Phonevite hand-holds you through the process: You can schedule a time for the invite to be blasted, request an RSVP from recipients (yes, maybe or no), and select an option for them to be able to message you back. It then gives you an online dashboard to show responses, and lets you play back any voice answers.
Engineer Kalvin Kim and product manager John Nahm say the service is good for group activities, such BBQs, and church, sports and school events.
How will they make money from this? They say an Internet call now costs about half a cent on average, so costs will be relatively low. Down the road, they hope to sell sponsored ads, say Nike gear in invites that are sports related, or Coke ads for general events. They may charge 1 to 3 cents a call if a user would rather not have ads.
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