One of the most frustrating things for early adopters like ourselves to deal with is the private, limited invitation beta. The startups seed a few invitations to their friends, and each new account has 3 or so invitations that can be given away. If you know the founders or one of the very early users, you can get in quickly. But if you don’t, you often have to wait a long time to see a new product.
Startups love this, of course. They’ve created scarcity around a virtual good and that creates buzz. The most successful products can count on invitations being sold on eBay – something we saw with Gmail in 2004 and more recently with Pownce.
A month or so ago we had the idea to create an email based product that linked people with early invites to beta services to people without invites. If done correctly and in an organized way, a viral effect can take root and just about everyone who wants an invite can get one quickly. We started building the product. But today we found a service that does exactly what we were thinking of building – InviteShare.
This is a fairly simple service, but it does the job perfectly. Go to the site and register. Then browse the various private betas that are being serviced – pownce, spock, myskitch, mint, etc. – some of these I haven’t even been able to get into. If you have invitations, invite the people on the top of the list and confirm that you’ve invited them by clicking on their name. If you need an invite, add your name to the list.
People who send out more invitations get priority on the lists, so there is an incentive to participate. And in a nice touch, email addresses are shown in images, making it much more difficult for spam bots to grab the names.