We’re big fans of TinyChat, a web-based chat startup that has been growing like gangbusters and recently won a Crunchie for best bootstrapped startup. TinyChat started out as a simple IRC-style chatroom app to complement conversations on platforms like Twitter, has been steadily building out its innovative platform to include video chat and screensharing options, live video streaming, and Facebook Connect.
Now the platform is making chats more social with the addition YouTube video integration, document collaboration with Etherpad, and whiteboard features powered by the company’s own Flockdraw. The social YouTube feature allows a moderators to pay any public YouTube video for everyone participating in the chat. The administrator can also control were the video starts, pauses etc.
The Etherpad integration is as simple as using Etherpad itself (the service’s parent AppJet was acquired by Google last year). With the click of a button, you can activate an Etherpad for your chat, where multiple can collaborate on a particular document. And the Etherpad integration has all of its original features; including the ability to go back in the lifetime of your document, to import and export to a variety of formats, and unlimited sharing options. You can also save your document and reopen it in the chat platform at a later time. The Flockdraw Whiteboard integration is similar to the Etherpad feature, except for whiteboarding vs. document collaboration. The whiteboard options are basic; you can draw, paint, type, and erase. But it’s simple to use and fairly intuitive.
These social and collaborative features no doubt bring TinyChat’s functionality to another level. Now that the platform has screensharing, and document and whiteboard collaboration, TinyChat could become a staple for businesses. And TinyChat offers its API for users to build off of its platform. The big bonus: TinyChat is completely free. The chat startup makes money from advertising and has yet to monetize, although its main competitor TokBox has begun to experiment with a freemium model (TokBox also has Etherpad integration). Although the startup has raised no VC funding since its launch last year, TinyChat has continued to innovate and make its platform a compelling offering for chat. In fact, the startup seeing 5 million minutes of usage per day. And along the way, the TinyChat has morphed into a full-fledged collaboration platform.