GroupMe, Born At TechCrunch Disrupt, Secures Funding And Launches

On May 22 this year 300 hackers converged in New York at TechCrunch Disrupt for a day and half long hack day before the conference itself started. At least one of the projects created at the hack day has now become an actual business, and has raised an angel round of funding from top tier investors.

GroupMe launches today. What is it? It’s a dead simple way to create a private SMS group with your friends. Just go to the site and type in your mobile number (U.S. phones only at this point). You’ll then get a text message from a unique phone number assigned to your new group that says “You just created a new group on GroupMe! Now add some friends by replying #add with your friends’ names and numbers.”

To add another person just add them via text message and they’re part of the group. Any text messages any member send go to all other members. And there are a variety of commands to mute groups, change topics, list other members, etc.

And the fun doesn’t stop there. Members can also initiate a group conference call to all members at any time. Just call the group number and everyone’s phone will ring.

GroupMe is working with Twilio, who was a sponsor of the hack day, to power the SMS and calling. And they are also working with Location Labs to integrate location/presence features in the future.

The company was founded by Jared Hecht (previously Tumblr) and Steve Martocci (previously Gilt Groupe).

GroupMe is pretty interesting from the start, but the founders have plans for a lot more. Says Hecht: “We think we’ve got a great direction for GroupMe as a group communication platform. We’re pursuing some very interesting data in/data out plays (eg, think about what happens when you invite Madison Square Garden into your group with a #MSG command). We plan on taking our hack day demo of contextual group advertising to help drive decision making and building it out, too. There are also some neat app-to-app and group buying plays.”

Hecht and Martocci caught the eyes of investors fairly quickly. They’ve closed an $850,000 round of financing from Betaworks, SV Angel, First Round Capital, Lerer Ventures and a number of prominent angels.

We’ve got a guest post coming up from the founders talking about their experience at Hack Day.