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Interview with Twitassist.me team member, Luke Pillow

1016_TwittassistMe A couple of weeks ago, I conducted an email interview with Luke Pillow, a member of the Kansas City-based team, The Phoenix-Durango, that developed Twitassist.me for the 2009 Rails Rumble.

The Ruby on Rails web application is now fully functional, and since I don’t have a cause of my own to promote, I’ll give some love to Twitassist.me user @scottymoon who’s attempting to raise $100,000 to “Quit working.” Best of luck Scotty! (Sorry, just promotion here, no contribution from me.)

The following is my email interview with Luke, and just below it you’ll find a screencast from Luke on how to set up a cause.

1. In 140 characters or less, what is twitassist.me?

Twitassist.me is the easy way to raise money, donate and track fundraising campaigns using Twitter.

2. Who’s the team behind it, what was each member’s role, and how did you meet?

We created the site as part of the 2009 Rails Rumble; a 48hr programming contest.

The team consisted of:

Allen, Justin, and I have worked together off and on for the last six years. Jesse is a long time friend and used to beat me up when we were five. He claims he didn’t, so I love bringing it up. We’ve sporadically kept in touch over the years and recently “reunited” via Facebook and Twitter.

3. How did the idea come about, and when and why did you decide to start working on it?

I’d like to say that I thought of it completely on my own, but @shaneadams tweet was my real inspiration. Several people responded that they’d help him with his cause, but I think a better response was possible. It’s not easy (or likely) you’ll give someone your pocket change if they’re geographically distant from you. Twitassist.me was created to bridge that gap and make it super simple to immediately help someone (or be helped).

4. Do you have any competitors, and if so, how are you different?

If we were competing with anyone it’d be Pledgie.com, but they’re definitely not competing with us. There are three differences between us:

  1. While “Pledgie is a website that allows anyone to raise funds online for meaningful causes,” twitassist.me fully embraces both meaningful and meaningless causes.
  2. Twitassist.me is 100% Twitter based.
  3. People use Pledgie.

5. What is twitassist.me relationship with twitpay.me?

We’ve worked with Twitpay.me from the beginning to use their API to enable our Twitter payments. They’ve been so supportive with everying and we owe them a big thanks.

6. I see one of the causes is “Fund twitassist.me” and it has a $1,000 goal. Is this twitassist.me’s only source of revenue or does it have additional sources?

“Fund twitassist.me” was the first Cause on the site. I never thought of it as a revenue source, but I’m not opposed to it either. In other words, “bring on the contributions!” Right now we’re focused on creating a valuable service before worry about revenue.

7. Could you share a couple successful fundraising stories with us?

Yes, but none that involve our website. We’re just getting started and people have only tested the waters with a few campaigns. Now that we’re officially launching we’ll be focused more on promoting the site and helping individuals promote their causes.

8. In reference to question number two, could you write a bit about your experiences with the tech and entrepreneur community in KC. What are some of its highlights as well as a couple things it could improve on?

I’m pretty involved with the Kansas City Ruby User’s Group, but would love to get to know the creative and social media community better.  I think there is a bit of a gap between the tech/programmer communities and the creative and social media community, but there are some awesome people who are working hard to change that.

9. What’s next? Will we be seeing more projects from the Twitassist.me team?

There’s currently no plan from the team as a whole, but each of us is always working on something. Allen is working on topulist.com, his pet project that lets people list their favorite things in life, and I’m working on a new version of KCDiningSpecials.com.

10. Any other thoughts? Favorite cause of yours so far?

I’m really excited about the site and its potential!  I can’t wait to see what can be accomplished when “X followers each contribute Y dollars” to a cause.  Favorite cause?  I like @jeffisageek‘s Doggie Food-raiser as an example of how twitassist.me can compliment existing fundraisers. I also like that @gisikw is using twitassist.me to fund the launch of a new tech community.