“GroupMe, New York’s Start-Up Of the Moment!” “Bidding War Breaks Out Over GroupMe!” “GroupMe Raises $9M For Group Texting!”
Those recent headlines are awesome if you’re the hot company everyone is talking about. But what if you’re their extremely similar, lesser-known competitor? How do you make yourself known when another company is stealing the spotlight?
We spoke with Matthew Rosenberg, Co-founder of Fast Society, about this dilemma. His company and GroupMe do similar things – they both encourage mass texting for temporary groups and are solutions for coordinating lots of people in hard-to-connect venues.
They launched just four months after GroupMe and are fighting for their own right to headlines and glory.
Tip 2. Differentiating your company from a competitor doesn't need to be product-related. It can be in your mission, or the story of your users.
BI: How do you present your company differently than GroupMe?
MR: GroupMe -- I respect the product they built. It would be silly to say otherwise. They're clearly capable guys. Their audience is grandmothers in the hospital, church groups, and hunters. When they write about it in articles, that's who they seem to be talking about. For us, we're all about 13 to 30 year olds.
We were the first to do instant conference calling. We were the first to add location to this stuff. And all these firsts, we're going to continue to push in that direction of innovating in the space -- of not trying to do what's in the past, but trying to look and follow our own drummer. I really believe what we're doing will bring us into our own space.
It's unfortunate that we're being looped into GroupMe. And I'm sure that GroupMe feels the same way. They probably don't want to be looped in with us either.
Fast Society is really about trying to help a specific niche audience and we're not going to be everything to everyone. We're not trying to own the group messaging space. It's like trying to own e-mail. I don't think it's possible. But what we can really do is help people experience time with their friends better. And that's the real goal.
Tip 3. Creating an emotional connection between your brand and a customer builds loyalty over competition.
BI: How do users feel about Fast Society versus GroupMe?
MR: GroupMe is all about being an amazing utility. And that's great. Utilities turn on my lights and they help me power my cable. But we want to be the guys that are the television show that you love that you can't wait to get to every night, or that song that makes you feel special every time you hear it, or that movie that reminds you of growing up.
We want to have an emotional connection with our users and I've never found a utility that does that. Utilities are great until you find the next utility and move on. And we never wanted to be something that people want to move on from. We want to be something that grows with our audience and that they really feel is part of their lives.
Tip 4. It's better to be mentioned alongside a competitor than not at all. If a competitor is stealing all the attention, nudge your way in and make yourself relevant to the conversation.
Tip 5. First-mover advantage is real, but it doesn't mean your company can't catch up. Be confident in your unique vision, and others will stop grouping you with others.
Business Insider (BI): How has GroupMe's first-mover advantage effected Fast Society?
Matthew Rosenberg (MR): I feel like I'd much rather be the outsider. I'd much rather be the troublemaker in the back row. I'd much rather be the guy that nobody wants at the school dance and is going to fight his way in to be Prom King rather than being the quarterback of the football team. And that's really how it is.
Those guys are like the quarterbacks of the football team that seem to be getting all the love. We're just those dudes that nobody really understood in the beginning. But I think that by the end of this, people will see that not everyone is going to be that popular kid. It's OK to be the outsiders; all that we can be is who we are, and we'll create the best product we can.
We're trying to follow the beat of our own drummer. We're trying to be who we are and create our own vision. I know at the end of the day, nobody else has our vision of what we're trying to do. Those guys just don't get what we're trying to do, and I'm glad GroupMe has their own vision.
Those guys are smart and they do their own thing and we respect what they built, but it's not something we would ever want to use and we don't think it's what our audience necessarily wants. We're about trying to create something special for our audience. And if we're able to do that, then that's a win for us.
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