Our proudest accomplishment yet epicwhale, Apr 21

We’ve some news we’d like to share with you. It’s about a product we’ve been working on & if you don’t have the time to read this, we understand, you can just check it out here.

As you may or may not know, Textme has been a nights-and-weekend-and-vacations passion project of ours. If you’ve ever wanted to message any text, images, videos, news, jokes or articles to your own or friend’s mobile, then you’ve been wanting Textme, the simplest send-to-mobile service in the country.

We believe the time is right and we’re ready to announce that you can now use Textme to send anything you want from your web browser to any mobile in India. All you’ve to do is go to www.OnTextme.com when you’re on a computer and click the “Get Textme, it’s free” button to get started.

This journey is going to be amazing.

We will need your help. Lots of it.

So do reply back with any feedback or thoughts you may have, share it with your friends & help everyone around you use it. There’s a lot you can use it for in your  everyday life (like sending IPL scores these days). 

Are you in?

Soft launch of the all new Textme epicwhale, Mar 6

It’s been a long run here and we’re proud to announce to our followers, the early release of the all new version of Textme at ontextme.com.

What’s new this time?

Textme now installs right into your web browser with just a click or two. So when you find something on the web you want to send to any phone in the country, just click on the Textme button. How cool is that right? We’re the first to do it.. and do it right! We fully support Chrome and Firefox while some of the features are available in IE, Safari, Opera, etc.

As of now, you can use Textme only if your mobile number is not registered in the DND. This is in accordance with TRAI regulations.

There’s more coming soon… Till then, spread the word and try us!

IAMAI to take up questions regarding TRAI regulations with authorities dayson, Oct 5

Received a newsletter this morning. The Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) is expected to take up a bunch of questions regarding the ambiguity and the exemptions provided to certain companies in the TRAI regulations (which we believe are ridiculous).

Extract from newsletter by Subho Ray, President, IAMAI below:
———————————————————————————————————————————
27th September brought some relief from the recent UCC Directive of TRAI to customers who are used to sending more than 100 smses per day as well as to certain category of consumer service companies who use sms alerts to service their customers. In a three page amendment issued that day the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India allowed 100 plus smses per day per sim to certain specific entities:

a) mobile and DTH recharge
b) e-ticketing websites
c) social networking sites
d) directory listing sites.

The amendment is a welcome relief. However, the air of confusion does not seem to have been fully cleared and the amendments have raised many new questions. Two of the important one that IAMAI would be taking up with the Authority are:

a) Does the amendments apply only to sim-based smses? If it does then the problem clearly states that the exempt categories do not use sim farms for smses, they use telecom resources;

b) are only the brands mentioned in the amendment special beneficiaries of the amendment or do the brands represent category of services? Does e-ticketing cover ecommerce? Does mobile and DTH recharging cover all mobile-based recharging? Are all listing sites covered?

And so on…. the discussion goes on between the customer, consumer companies, aggregators and TSPs… We are of the view that some guidance and clarification should be issued by the Authority to clear the -air”.
———————————————————————————————————————————

The IAMAI has very prominent members from the web & sms industry. We’re hoping TRAI will hear them loud & clear.

Add the Textme button to your website epicwhale, Sep 27

Before you continue reading: The simplest way to add the Textme button to your website is by using the “Get the Code” wizard. Most of it is self-explanatory. Continue reading only if you need an in-depth understanding into configuring and advanced options.

Adding the Textme button to your webpage is is very similar to adding a tweet or facebook button. The easiest way is to use the Javascript method which involves adding a line of javascript and an anchor tag to your webpage. You can customize the message, url, counter and other settings using data attributes.

<a href="http://ontextme.com/share" class="textme-share-button"></a>
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://s1.ontextme.com/js/widget.js"></script>

Properties

There are a few properties that allow you to customize the button and its behavior. All the properties are optional but you can set them if you want to control the message and the url which the user shares. If the link and the message are not provided, the button will use the default values available from the web page.

AttributeDescriptionValue
data-urlURL of the page to sharestring
data-textDefault message to textstring
data-countPosition of the count boxhorizontal, vertical, none
data-bylineHelp message shown to the user on the Textme screenstring

Continue reading this article →

The all new Textme epicwhale, Sep 27

In a hurry? Get the Code

It’s been almost 7 months since the launch of our first prototype. Textme has now been used more than 2 million times and we’ve garnered a rich fan base on facebook. We’ve collected all kinds of feedback and studied every aspect of sharing to a mobile. Also, the upcoming TRAI regulations have required us to incorporate a few changes to become more compliant. This brings us to the next version of Textme which is located at a brand new domain OnTextme.com

What has changed?

A lot has changed, but it’s still as fast and easy to use. Here’s a gist:

Rich content sharing
We’ve shifted our focus from plain text to rich content sharing. Just like how you’d integrate a facebook share, tweet button to share content with social platforms, the Textme button is the first of its kind and aims to become the defacto standard for sharing to a mobile platform.


Continue reading this article →

Connect with web-geeks on dploy.in dayson, Aug 9

If you’re a web developer or a web startup in India and would like to connect with other developers, designers & web entrepreneurs across the country for help, advise or no reason, join the conversation on dploy.in

/join #dploy

A few like minded people have setup this chat room on freenode, the most popular group chat network. You can come in at any point of the day and converse with interesting people from the same work field. You’re very likely to find the entire team at Epicwhale on it too.

Read more on dploy.in. Help spread the word!

Sorry, we’re alive but still gearing up! epicwhale, May 11

If you’ve been wondering why there hasn’t been a post since Feb 8th to now, this one is to answer that. No, we’re not dead. No, we’re not dying. No, we’re not bored of our own concepts. Honestly, we’ve just been busy (with textme!) and we want to share a lesson learned -

When you’re rolling a startup, it takes loads of time (and more importantly energy) to be able to blog alongside. The best break for someone working non-stop on a web-startup is getting off the web. Being transparent is difficult after all.

We still want to keep trying. Give us a little more time before we start shooting out all kinds of posts and updates! Also, if we’ve been keeping you waiting for too long over Textme, hang in there! We’re on the job.

Creating a less sucky web startup in India dayson, Feb 8

A few days after launching textme, I came across this post on why Indian internet startups need to get off their asses and learn to program.

It’s the usual debate about founders who can’t code (or rather founders should know code). Honestly, most Indian web startups suck. Sorry if I said suck, but what I meant is that they ‘really really suck’. Coincidently, these Indian startups are by those that have big MBA degrees and almost null tech experience. If you visit certain startup events in India, you will understand where I’m going with this one. Of course, there are exceptions, but here is what I feel Indian startups need to get right.

1. Set a budget and a timeline. Ship as soon as you exhaust your development budget or hit the timeline. Keep in mind that “The user experience of the product should be world class.” A prototype is important but it doesn’t have to look lame. Even if you can’t afford the most usable and tested design, build something that doesn’t make your users feel its our government website.

2. Scratch your own itch. It’s important to have a solution to a real problem. But I’d say, make sure it’s your own problem too. It is better to solve a boring problem in topic X that you know quite a few things about than to solve the worlds biggest problem in topic Y which you know nothing about.

3. Start in a garage and act like a garage. Don’t buy a pen or book unless you really need one. Even if you really need it, buy it just before the first time you are going to use it. Of course, I’m referring to employees, expensive technologies & services here.

4. Premature optimization is the root of all evil. It is important to have great code and optimizations; but spend time on aspects that will really help speed up the product. Just keep your code and project manageable + bug free. Scale up when you need to scale up. Build with less momentum so you can always change direction.

Lastly, try to be transparent. If you come in with preconceived notions, you are going to block out methods that actually come from you. Don’t fear competition, embrace it. Tell other Indian developers, designers and entrepreneurs about how you build your web app, share some internal code, ideas, research details, etc.

I don’t intend to talk in the air, but this is the idea on which we’ve built and launched our first product – textmewidget.com

p.s: We’ve neither broken even nor ‘boot strapped + successful’. But just wanted to share the mindset we started off with. If it ever fails, I’ll come back here and tell you what went wrong and I’m sure it won’t be a reason I mentioned above.

An overview of Send to Mobile in India dayson, Jan 31

Remember the survey we took sometime back? If you were curious, have a look at the presentation below to understand why we asked you those questions and what the outcome was. If you happened to fill it in, thanks a ton! You have helped us understand and build our free, secure and super easy sms widget for every website in India. It’s called textme and you can try out a demo at textmewidget.com

Download Presentation (high quality)

Send to mobile? A pain in the ass! epicwhale, Jan 20

It was early 2010 and we needed the addresses of quite a few companies for an errand we had to run. We were visiting each of their websites and noting down addresses on a random piece of paper. A little into it, we realized how we could simply use Justdial. We realized the second reason we loved Justdial was because they simply send you all the information you need in an ad-free and fat-free sms. Saved us a lot of time!

We even witnessed this feature on websites like burrp, sulekha, mouthshut and justdial in the form of “Send to Mobile” buttons. Its a tiny feature from the users point of view, but it can really save you a LOT of work the few times you may bother using it. We loved it and we thought of implementing it on a few of our client’s websites. We thought it wouldn’t be too difficult… its just a javascript popup and some backend/ajax code anyway! But here we are after experiencing it, telling you truly what a pain in the ass it could be (and has been for us):

  • Convenience: Even though bulk sms isn’t too expensive, we’d have to buy a new sms gateway account or sender id for every website. Along with it came the headache of regularly checking balances and renewals.
  • Security: Easy to use, but even easier to misuse. Providing this great functionality feels interesting, but having to deal with spamming, flooding, logging, limits, captcha, etc already felt tedious.
  • Easy integration: We needed something we could easily plug in and out of websites but it turned out that all the security and logging features would require a lot more setup and management from server to server.
  • Reliable and fast: Picking the right one, having a backup and being able to switch sms gateways in future felt important for a near-instant and reliable delivery. This is a trial and error process and we’ve tried so many providers before we locked on a few! (and lost some money in the process of doing so.)
  • Privacy Protection: This one is a bigger deal than most webmasters think it is. Everyone is complaining about promotional phone calls and junk sms a week after they are exposed to some kind of sms service. The truth is that a lot of sms gateways do not have a transparent privacy policy and/or they are very possibly selling your customers information to third-party-advertisers.

So we decided, chuck it.. let’s just build one uniform widget that takes care of everything we need and worry about; and host it on our own servers. We can keep improving security and features over time while our clients can just integrate it via some easy javascript code – similar to sharethis, addthis or facebook. A week into this idea, it felt like the world’s simplest sms gateway. It felt like the journey a web startup would want to go through. So we said yes, let every website in India use it, for free!

Here we are a few months after putting in a lot of work into that simple thought we started off with. Now, it ironically looks like we just made something simple, recognizable and usable for every website in India. Its called textme!

So try it to save yourself and your visitors the butt pain. BTW, we didn’t mean to offend anyone or their butts.