Monday, February 28

A worthy successor to Yahoo! and Google Groups - GroupSpaces

This weekend, I was reconnected with a company that I met during my September Seedcamp visit in London who, as many other companies in the "group communication" space have before, asked to catch up to discuss some of the successes we had experienced at eGroups during our growth phase.

This time, I promised to catch up when he was here in NYC, and sat down with him to discuss some of the issues that I believed are important to a group manager and how to frame the product discussion if they were trying to find their growth.

After the first deep dive, I realized that David (the CEO of GroupSpaces) really had a functional handle on the product. Both he and his co-founder were group organizers back in uni (British for "college") and were frustrated with google Groups, Yahoo! Groups and even Facebook event management. So, four years ago - they started building GroupSpaces and started addressing their own needs. Just the two of them - and they began to build out an incredibly robust platform for group managers. So he showed me the product in its current form.

I was honestly blown away.

I am not kidding - after running numerous groups and having to connect and coordinate different platforms and datafeeds between bulk-email providers, my membership roles, event planning tools, creating subgroups with specific permissions (meaning I would have to have special sub groups on the Google or Yahoo platforms) - when I started diving into GroupSpaces, I realized I am moving off of Google and Yahoo! Groups for any of my active groups.

Real Power at the Hands of the Group Manager
One of the things that made me smile as I began to use the toolset found within GroupSpaces was the ease of integrating my membership roles to the different applications that are found within the service. Listed are:
  • Membership Management - which is incredibly intuitive and easy to use
  • Email management - not only for list communication, but also for a small bulk-email set that looks like a trimmed down version of every email templating software I have seen to date. In addition, also supports basic click-thru and open tracking along with bounces.
  • Event management - imagine if you had the best of Evite, EventBrite and Facebook events controlled from a single interface. You have found the tool for that at GroupSpaces.
  • Templating the GroupSpaces for your group is a breeze with their tool set. Again, it is almost as if they looked at how Ning did the effort, threw in a little weebly and created a much more effective tool set.
  • Payments - allowing groups to create payment mechanisms for their events through a simplified interface
  • and a whole lot more.
Now, from looking at this product and beginning to play with it - I am blown away. I have not see anything come this close to an effective group communication platform since one of the advocacy platforms that got scooped up by Convio back in 2006.

If you are an existing group and are frustrated with the limitations of your group site / community system - I am giving a VERY hearty recommendation to you to consider using the GroupSpaces platform.

Does it Cost?
Its a freemium model (Fred Wilson, are you listening?) - for the basic package which is quite excellent. But the next level up is only $15/mo and gives you 5000 email addresses you can mail to. Considering that most bulk-mail services cost the same for half that number of email addresses, the cost is rapidly covered right there.

If I was going to say what would be the better platform for small businesses or non-profits who are getting tired of exhorbant fees from platform providers and consultants, GroupSpaces is the way to go.

AN IDEA: What is squareSpace had a deal with GroupSpaces? Could be a deal made in heaven! As the yenta, I want to name the baby.

1 comment:

Beth Owl's Daughter said...

Fascinating article here. You left out one biggie, and that is the swarms of former organizers like myself who have abandoned or are in the process of fleeing Meetup since their unannounced, bug-infested, nightmare rewrite "New Meetup" on Jan. 27.

GroupSpaces has stepped up beautifully, working with untold hundreds of distraught Organizer refugees. They've bent over backwards to empower us with a more streamlined, friendly, customer-focused platform. And all so that we can support our members without missing a beat!

Huge kudos to GroupSpaces for grace under enormous pressure and their terrific service and support!