Why GroupMe Could Get Huge, Fast: Normal People Love It

Girls with a phone

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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?

This is GroupMe's website. Right from here, you enter your name and cell number, and you're one click away from setting up a free GroupMe number.

Within a few seconds, you should receive this text. Your GroupMe is now set up, though so far you're the only one in it.

You can add people right from your phone. Putting '#' at the start of a text issues commands like this to GroupMe, instead of sending the text to your group.

That's all it takes. Your friend is now a part of the group.

You can also add friends from the website if you create an account. GroupMe sends you a text to verify you are the person associated with your number.

Just type in friends' names and numbers, and add them to the group.

No setup or sign-up is required from your friends. Just start texting the new GroupMe number, and they can respond. That's it, you're all GroupMe users now.

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