Spongecell "the most intuitive of the online calendar apps," and picked it as one of our 10 Must Have Online Office Apps. Since then, though, a lot has changed. Spongecell is no longer just a personal calendar, but rather a full-scale event management platform aimed at businesses with complicated event calendars. Last week I caught up with Spongecell CEO Ben Kartzman and Chief Strategy Office Marc Guldimann to learn a little bit more about what the company is up to.Last August we called
With Google Calendar now dominating the online personal calendar space, Spongecell decided to take a different approach to the market. Spongecell reworked their product and launched "Spongecell Promote" in March 2007, a full event-marketing platform provides publishing, messaging, and reporting tools to event organizers. After seeing that they were getting more traffic via embedded calendars than via the personal calendar service that had been their main product, Spongecell decide to shift gears completely and make Promote their core offering.
Above is a sample Spongecell calendar widget.
The service compares somewhat to Evite, but Kartzman stressed that Spongecell isn't focused on one-off events like birthday parties -- though the product could be used that way -- but rather hopes to help organizations or event managers who run a large number of gatherings to manage their entire calendar.
Spongecell's service has three main components:
- Publishing: Each event gets a web page that allows people to RSVP, comment, get directions, etc. Event pages can be syndicated to MySpace, Facebook, Eventful, Upcoming and elsewhere via widgets.
- Messaging: Spongecell lets users spread the word about their event via SMS and email. About 2 million emails are sent out each month via the service.
- Reporting: Event managers can use Spongecell's reporting features to track their email and SMS blasts and guest lists.
Spongecell's calendar widget has about 12,000 installs and serves 2 million pageviews each month, Kartzman told me. About 25% of those come through the app's RESTful API, which allows developers to create custom calendar applications. Parenting site lilaguide.com, for example, uses the API to power its event section and has customized it so that parents can add events to the site's calendar.
Spongecell has already landed some pretty big clients for their platform, including CNN, but plans to expand into new markets over the coming year as part of an ambitious plan to become the event marketing management platform for any industry.
Spongecell may no longer be a must have office application -- if you're looking for a simple calendar, try Google -- but it is now a very well made and versatile platform for running an online event calendar on any web site. Deciding not to compete with Google was probably a smart move for the company, which now has a much better chance of cornering their intended market.