Last week I discontinued PowderFone, a wakeup call service for skiers and riders that I launched with my partners Micha Hanson and Doug Goodwin in 2002. In our prime, our resort customers included Intrawest, Vail Resorts and many other popular ski areas.
Using the open source platform Asterisk and PHP we built an application that assembled a custom snow report from data provided by Snocountry. Users could define the resorts and day/times they wanted to receive a call.
In retrospect, we overcame many technical hurdles in areas that we were not experts in such as VOIP. As we grew, scaling became our primary issue as call quality began to suffer. Our vendors were also a challenge as they went out of business or dropped support for volume calling that our application required. I learned a ton about customer service as users moved or changed phone numbers and we placed calls to people that did not subscribe. Calling people at 5am in Iowa about 6 inches of new snow at Vail is not a good way to make friends.
All in all it was a great run. PowderFone was the first startup that I solicited investments from family and friends. I was not prepared for the guilt I felt telling them we had to shut down the company.
Thanks to the Interns that helped us year after year and to Doug and Micha for working so hard on the application and search engine optimization of the website.