Monday, July 02, 2007

The Gin System

As I've been trying to sort out the role of FaceBook lately, I can't help but wonder "where's the content?" It seems to me that FaceBook is a great networking tool. You can point people to outside links, but I haven't yet seen a great way to include content. Then again, perhaps I'm missing something. I've only been playing around with FB for a couple of weeks now.

Today, in one of my student interviews, I came across a new web-based application called The Gin System. "Gin" stands for Group Interactive Network. It's about "facilitating communication." The only people that have access to "your Gin" are the people in your gin. Membership driven; password protected.

I called the company (they're based in Gainesville, Florida) and spoke with one of their friendly sales reps. She gave me a tour of the application.

The Gin System provides you with (among other things):

  • Secure login
  • Calendar of events
  • Phone & Email lists
  • Email groups ("public" f0r all members; or private for designated members only)
  • Questions: Allows for easy posting of questions. Can be posted anonymously. Answers can be sent view email or text message.
  • Files: Virtually any file type can be uploaded (mp3, zip, jpg) to the system. Files can be stored in folders. Everyone can see a folder, but you can set a specific file to be only viewed by specific users or groups of users. Files can be password protected
  • Discussion Boards
In August, Gin Premiere is launching with new features, including instant messaging, a "who's online" feature, skinning features, and the ability to upload pictures with your profile.

So who's using The Gin System?

At this point, roughly 90% of their market is with sororities and fraternities, but they've begun to move into the corporate/commercial sector. (I viewed the "Office" demo of The Gin System.)

Here's some examples of who's on Gin:

  • A national non-profit organization.
  • A gym franchise with over 400 locations has put all of their training files onto their GIN.
  • Sororities and Fraternities are using their Gins to communicate with members.
  • A private elementary school is using it to communicate with teachers and parents.
  • A preschool has signed up -- they liked the text messaging option as a way to globally broadcast messages. In the case of an emergency, they can text message every parent at the same time.
Pricing model (from their website):

We don't charge per user or have traditional 'license fees'. We charge per month with a couple of break points to separate small, medium and large user groups. Communication is enhanced when everyone is able to participate. We don't want to create a system that requires you to do a cost-benefit analysis on whether each member, intern or employee should be added. Larger groups result in larger traffic for our makes sense that this should result in slightly higher prices. But per user? Doesn't make much sense to us...

I was told anywhere from $60-120 a month depending on the size of the org.

It seems to me that a system like this could provide some of the networking that FaceBook provides -- within an organization -- and provide a lot of content.

Have you heard of it?

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