Watch Out Google Voice: Hot Messaging Startup SendHub Debuts iPhone App

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Fresh on the heels of its hot $2 million seed round from Kapor Capital, Menlo Ventures, 500 Startups, Howard Lindzon’s Social Leverage fund, Eric Ries, Paul Buchheit, Jawed Karim, and others, YC-backed messaging startup SendHub is debuting its much-anticipated iPhone application today. The new app brings the services SendHub previously offered on the web to the mobile platform, including the ability to send  group messages, manage auto-responders, and add contacts, among other things.

Built on top of Twilio, SendHub offers a service that lets businesses communicate with their customers via text messages, which customers opt in to receiving by texting a keyword the business chooses. Available as a freemium product, SendHub has been offering tiered plans which let the business scale up as they need to add more contacts or send out more messages per month.

Up until today, businesses would have to initially configure their account online, and could then manage it and send out their messages from either the web or via SMS. With the new iPhone application, however, businesses can now sign up on their phone itself and handle all aspects of their account from there. Plus, as a smartphone app, SendHub can tap into iPhone features, like push notifications for alerting to new messages sent in from customers, for example, and it can access the iPhone address book to import contacts.

Initially designed with schools and teachers in mind, SendHub blossomed into a businesses by addressing the pain points of other free and low-cost telephony options like Skype and Google Voice – namely the limitations on the number of contacts which can be messaged to via group texts.

“If you’re a small business, and you have an iPhone, but don’t want to put a phone line in your business,” explains SendHub co-founder Ash Rust of the iPhone app’s promise, “you can get a professional number for that business, sign up in 30 seconds, and manage that whole thing from your phone…at no cost to you at all.”

And by everything, SendHub means communicating with customers via text, replying to their inquiries via text and even accepting voice calls. (Voice calls are routed to a personal cell number, as with Google Voice.) Later this quarter, SendHub will enable businesses to place outbound calls as well.

SendHub has big vision for the company than what it offers today. It doesn’t want to only take on Google Voice by offering a more robust, easier to use, and business-friendly alternative – it wants to take on all the entire managed services market. Instead of installing multi-line phone systems, SendHub wants to enable businesses to set up new employees with a SendHub number when they come on board. Numbers could even be moved from one phone to another as employees come on duty or end their shifts, for instance.

Of course, with today’s launch of the iOS application, the burning question for now is “what about Android?” Unfortunately, there’s no ETA on that just yet. “Right now, we’re all about Apple,” says Johnson. “But Android is on the roadmap for sure,” he adds.

The SendHub iPhone application is available for download now in iTunes from here.