The Hatchery September Meetup: Mobile Tech

We showed up fashionably late (sorry!) to last night’s Hatchery “Mobile Tech” meetup, but still managed to catch two of three mobile startups’ presentations.

  • Ving Talk, a service for sending voice messages to groups of people.
  • Mobile Commons, software for companies and organisations to manage mass text-messaging campaigns.

Summaries and analysis after the jump.

Still-in-development Ving Talk is building the mobile-voice equivalent of an Internet message board. People install Ving Talk’s software on their mobile phones and use it to send voice messages to groups of people. Anyone who receives the message can then send a voice “reply-all” message back to the group. Right now, the company’s software works only on Sony Ericsson phones on AT&T’s wireless network. Ving Talk’s Alistair Black says the company is looking to raise $1 million to build out the app for more phones and carriers. Ving Talk’s success is predicated on enough people deciding that sending short voice messages to groups — and paying extra for the service — is better than sending text messages or emails. And we’re not sure that’s true.

Mobile Commons is a bit further along in growing their business. They sell software that groups and organisations can use to for mass text-messaging and voice campaigns, including one-way blast messaging and two-way communication like polling. The company already has 70 clients, including John Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign. They’re also profitable after only a year in business. Co-founder Chris Muscarella says the company has monthly revenue around $30,000 to $40,000. This is impressive, and Mobile Commons could have a huge market to address. The mobile marketing and advertising markets are projected to explode, and if Mobile Commons can establish itself as one of the leading technology partners in the industry, they can make a ton of money.

Regretfully, we missed Txttunes‘ presentation. They sell DRM-free indie music over the Internet, like eMusic and other services. But instead of using Web e-commerce software or paying by credit card, you send a text message to Txttunes, they text you back a “download code,” you punch the code into their Web site and download the song, and $1.75 gets added to your phone bill. This sounds unnecessarily complicated. Are we missing something?