Here’s why you should pay very close attention to GroupMe, a startup that helps you easily communicate with groups of your friends from your mobile phones: normal people love it.Appealing to people outside the “early adopter” crowd is incredibly important, and it is rare even among successful tech services. As huge as it is, Twitter is still struggling to go main stream. In mobile, as popular and promising as Foursquare is, it is still overwhelmingly skewed toward highly technical, urban males.
We want our normal friends to use Foursquare, because we use it, and it’s more useful and fun if your friends use it too. But we haven’t been able to convince them to bother with it.
Last night, just to test out GroupMe before writing about it, we set up a group, and texted a handful of friends. Within about five minutes, they were all active, enthusiastic GroupMe users. They haven’t signed up for anything. They don’t all know what ‘GroupMe’ is. But they’re using it right now.
GroupMe lets you set up a unique phone number which you can text to talk to a group of your friends all at once. Any text sent to that number by one of your friends is sent to all of you. It’s like sending a group email, to which people can easily “reply all”. Since it works through SMS, no one needs a smartphone to use it.
That’s a very simple idea, but it fills a real need, and it does it so simply that anyone can start using it without ever knowing what it is.
How is that possible?