ITEXPO West: StartupCamp round 3, GroupMe


This is a cross post from gagagadget contributing writer Grant Roe. He was at ITEXPO West StartupCamp on Monday, October 4. This is part 4 of the series. The other posts can be found here, here, and here.

GroupMe was the third fledgling company taking the floor at StartupCamp earlier this week. Co-founder Brandon Keene, one of the youngest people in the room, displayed a passion for his project that the previous presentations lacked. GroupMe is brilliant in it’s simplicity. It is a free group-texting and conference call service that works with every cell phone capable of texting or group calling. Group-texting has been a major issue with cell phones, with even the piggest of the big lacking this simple functionality (c’mon iPhone, really?).

GroupMe was actually created in 24 hours at the TechCrunch Disrupt Hack-a-Thon a couple years back. It was such a hit, and showed so much promise, that the creators quit their jobs and made GroupMe their full-time gig. The idea was that email, the de-facto method of relaying messages to a group today, is hardly a real-time solution. Keene said that 97% of texts are read within two minutes. That means, if there were a way to reach all of your colleagues at work, or parents on a soccer team, about some last-minute change in plans, a way to quickly and easily notify everyone you need regardless of the phone you have would be an astounding convenience. GroupMe fills that very large niche.

It’s a dead-simple text-messaging product.

-Brandon Keene, Co-founder

So with most phones, both of the smart and “dumb” varieties, lacking this obvious feature, how does GroupMe simplify the process for a “lowest common denominator” audience that includes not only the 45 million smart phones in America, but also the 240 million “dumb” phones? It simply assigns a unique number to each group created by the user, and the text is sent to that number. The GroupMe database receives the text, pulls up all of the contacts associated with that number, and forwards the text to everyone in that group. The text arrives at its destination as though it was sent from the user’s phone, and the recipients can simply reply if they wish.

There is already a free iPhone app available, with an Android version on the way. Those with other phones can start making groups on the GroupMe site. Keep an eye on GroupMe. They are poised to make it big very soon. You heard it here first.

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