Born from the cradle of Disrupt’s NY Hackathon, GroupMe is turning the codefest into something of a company tradition. The startup, which officially launched in August and recently raised $850,000 from a few prominent investors, took the stage on Sunday at the San Francisco Design Center to pitch their latest hack in 60 seconds or less.
GroupMe is a service for private groups based around SMS. To sign up, you go to their website, punch in your cell phone number and your name. Once GroupMe assigns a unique mobile number (a pretty instantaneous process), you can invite anyone with a mobile to join your group. From there you can chat via SMS as a group, organize a conference call, and discuss certain topics. According to co-founder, Steve Martocci (formerly of Gilt Groupe), demand has been healthy, with GroupMe hitting its 1 millionth text message on Friday.
Unlike Flymodo, another notable Hackathon alum, the founders of GroupMe didn’t launch an entirely new product on Sunday, instead they created a feature for GroupMe: suggested reminders and sponsored groups. Through “sponsored groups,” corporations and organizations can sign-up to create/sponsor event or theme centric groups, like music festivals, sporting events or even television shows. Once a user sign up for a sponsored group, he will be able to access suggested reminders (created by the organization/company).
TechCrunch’s Disrupt will be GroupMe’s first first guinea pig. If you sign up for the Disrupt group, you can sign up to get reminders on events like the Super Angel/VC debate, Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s session or Barry Diller’s fireside chat. Martocci says the team (now a crew of five plus one intern) will be closely monitoring how Disrupt attendees are using the service and making tweaks along the way. You can access the Disrupt’s sponsored group here.
While it may not seem like an earth shattering feature for GroupMe, such a B2C friendly app certainly presents a critical monetization opportunity for the young startup.