Guest Post: Asterisk, Nip/Tuck and the ServiceGuy

June 30, 2008 by Garrett Smith

Our team at Big in Japan (a social software company) has been enamored with Asterisk since early 2005 when we launched our social podcasting application for FX Network’s hit series Nip/Tuck.  Our application, that married Asterisk and Ruby on Rails, allowed fans of the show to participate in a ‘social podcast’ that was published on the show’s website and on iTunes.  Most viewers didn’t (and still don’t) have the equipment necessary for voice recording on their computers, so our implementation of Asterisk allowed FX to call viewers and record their thoughts, comments and questions about the show.  The system was designed to handle a minimum of 30,000 calls per hour, but could be expanded on-the-fly if necessary.  The system worked so well FX asked us to incorporate other shows into the system include The Shield, The Riches, Rescue Me, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Damages.

Our most recent application that takes advantage of Asterisk is ServiceGuy. ServiceGuy is a free referral network. The idea is simple: You need help now. You don’t want to wait to receive a call back. You don’t want to wait for an email response. You don’t want to create an account or provide demographic data. You want to talk to a service provider in your area right now. Just call the ServiceGuy number for your area and get the service you need. Your call is then connected to a service provider. No voicemail. No email. No accounts. Just a direct connection to someone who can help you right now.

Basically, we build ‘public virtual hunt groups’ limited by geography and service type.  For example, we built a hunt group in Dallas for painters.  Painters are allowed to enter their cell phone numbers into the hunt group, and the main number of the hunt group is published for consumers to call.  When a consumer calls the ‘painter hunt group’ in Dallas each painter’s number is called.  The first available painter to press one is connected to the consumer.  The call is then recorded and placed into the painter’s account for future use.

Today ServiceGuy is active in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C.  We offer hunt groups for cleaning, computer, design, electrician, handyman, landscape, moving, painter, plumber, pool and realtor.

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