Palo Alto based Renkoo, which just raised $3 million in venture financing, is opening its doors this morning to beta testers. They’ll immediately let in the first few hundred requests and then trickle in new users after that (if you don’t see a box to request a beta account, they haven’t switched over to the new site yet). Once you are a member, you can invite others to use the service.
Renkoo, like competitor Skobee, helps people plan events (the pre-evite stage). Want to gather a couple of friends and discuss when and where to have drinks next week? Renkoo is a perfect choice to help you do this. Socializr, Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams’ new startup, is also rumored to be entering this space.
I’ve tested Renkoo off and on during its development cycle, and it’s evolved rapidly. CEO Adam Rifkin gave me another walk through today to see some of the recent feature additions.
To use Renkoo, you set up a new event and invite people. If they are not yet Renkoo users, they will receive an invitation. If they are, they’ll receive a new event notification. Once people start interacting over an event, things get interesting.
Renkoo is an early “Comet” application (allowing real-time two way interactivity in a browser – Google Talk and Meebo are based on underlying Comet technologies). That means the event page updates in real time as your friends give their input. The experience is similar to instant messaging. Users who aren’t logged in see the comment stream once they are.
Renkoo also allows instant messenger, email and sms notifications of events, comments, etc. (all user controlled). Once an event is finalized, it can be exported in icalendar format (for desktop calendars like Outlook and iCal), or Google Calendar format. Support for additional web calendars and microformats is coming soon.
Renkoo was founded by Adam Rifkin, the founder of KnowNow, and Joyce Park, formerly a senior web developer at Friendster and an author of PHP5 and MySQL Bible.
Screen Shots (click for larger view):