Experiences is the easiest way to do something awesome with your friends. We help you discover, plan, and pay for the amazing experiences you’ll always remember.
This past July, we were excited to introduce the private Beta version of something we’ve been working on all year: Experiences by GroupMe, the easiest way to do something awesome with your friends. Today, we’re thrilled to announce the public launch of Experiences in New York City.
It’s been a completely amazing summer, developing this new project with the help of our GroupMe users and their friends from all corners of the New York area. We’ve helped groups of friends go on all manner of adventures from hang-gliding and zip-lining to comedy, hip hop and cabaret, to cooking classes, luxury picnics, and special wine tastings. And, thanks so much to all our users for your feedback over the past three months. We’ve just added two of our most requested features: An optimized mobile web view — a better way to buy things on the go on your mobile device — and, for some Experiences, variable group sizes so you can choose how many friends to bring along.
This week on Experiences, you and yours can discover, plan, and split the bill for everything from an exclusive designer dress-up party replete with champagne, hors d’oeuvres and a personal stylist at the brand new Rent The Runway showroom, to ogling some never-before-exhibited works at the Guggenheim’s Picasso Black and White exhibit followed by an artful meal at the Wright. Explore more on Experiences, and find us on Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter for Experiences updates, recommendations, and giveaways, and more.
Experiences is excited to grow, collaborate with awesome partners, and develop new technologies to make sure group planning will be as fun and easy as it’s ever been, but our core goal will stay constant: We look forward to helping make the moments you and your friends share in the real world as fun, carefree, and plentiful as possible.
Experiences is the easiest way to do something awesome with your friends.
We help you discover, plan, and pay for the amazing experiences you’ll always remember.
At GroupMe, we’ve always been motivated by our mission to help groups of people communicate and get together better. We’ve loved watching GroupMe improve the way you stay connected with the people close to you, and we’ve strived to help you bring those online interactions into the real world.
For the past several months, we’ve been hard at work building and testing something very special. Today, it’s a privilege to begin sharing Experiences by GroupMe with the world. Experiences is the easiest way to do something awesome with your friends. We help you discover, plan, and pay for the amazing group experiences you’ll always remember. We also solve one of the most frustrating problems about group experiences: splitting the bill. The memories dearest to us are those we’ve shared with our friends, and we want you to have a lot of those. Sowhether it’s a dinner, party, concert, outdoor activity or a vacation, Experiences is there to make things easy so the moments you share with your friends are as fun and carefree as possible.
We all know group planning has always been tricky. Often, working out the logistics for a great group outing, whether you’re talking about a birthday dinner or a week at Coachella, falls on one person. We’ve created Experiences so you and your friends can get together without a hitch, at each part of the process — especially the paying part. With our group payment feature, we split the bill for you, so each of your friends can directly pay his or her own way and no one has to front money ever again.
And when you plan an Experience with us, of course we’ll set up your group of friends with a GroupMe messaging group so you can share it in one continuous conversation, online and on your phone.
Today, we’re beginning to roll out Experiences to select GroupMe users in New York. Over the course of the summer, we’ll invite more people. If you’d like to sign up for our beta, or want to be alerted when Experiences comes to your city, register here for early access. We look forward to sharing Experiences by GroupMe with you and your friends, and helping you create many more memorable moments in life.
Now, we’re working on a new way to share your GroupMe stories with the world, to help us show people how GroupMe might benefit them. It’s going to be great. But we need your help. Could you take a minute and submit your story to us?
All you have to do is tell us about how you use GroupMe. It can be very general (who do you chat with?) or very specific (the time you did ____). If we want to use your story, we’ll get in touch, discuss it a little, and send you some free GroupMe t-shirts as thanks.
So what are you waiting for? Click here to submit your story. We can’t wait to hear from you.
The following is a post written by our Community Management intern about our upcoming Campus Ambassador program.
Hey there—I’m Michael, the Community Management intern at GroupMe this summer!
Since I’ve been here, we’ve seen some remarkable cases of GroupMe in places that were never imagined. Examples like cancer support groups, neighborhood crime watches, and even tornado relief cases continue to motivate the team daily to keep building GroupMe to be the best it can.
Aside from the often awe-inspiring cases, there’s one place that GroupMe just seems to naturally fit in—the college campus.
Over the past year, I’ve had the chance to use GroupMe at school in many different ways:
Coordinating a team of 20 program directors during an 18-hour dance marathon that raised funds for a local children’s hospital.
Organizing group projects for class and finding those group members when meeting up in the library.
Staying in touch with roommates about buying groceries when someone makes a run to the store.
Communicating with members of the student clubs and organizations that I’m in for quick changes to meeting times and places.
Those are just a few examples of use cases, and we know there are many more out there. That’s why we’re starting a Campus Ambassador program to help bring GroupMe on campus to the next level.
Those selected as Campus Ambassadors will be our representatives on the front line of their campus. They’ll be publicizing GroupMe and helping new users and groups get started in a number of different areas. We’re ready to support those Ambassadors as much as possible - we’ll set up custom web pages, help plan promotions, and provide giveaways. We’ll even throw in lots of exclusive GroupMe swag! #)
We’ll tell you more about the details later. For now, we’re looking for motivated, creative, and passionate college students who understand the power of GroupMe to join us.
What’s more, the Ambassadors that do the best job on their campuses will be offered a paid internship at GroupMe HQ next summer—which, take my word for it, is amazing. Team GroupMe is constantly evolving, and the amount of creativity, skill, humor, and genius here is great.
If you fit the bill, or if you know someone who does, apply now. We can’t wait to meet you. The deadline for applications is July 31st!
The NBA Finals on GroupMe: Almost a Record-Breaker
On Sunday night, we saw a huge traffic spike in groups across the U.S. during the last game of the NBA Finals, peaking during the last hour of the game. In fact, near the end of the game, the count of messages per hour was nearing 3 times average hourly levels. Check out the chart:
(all times EDT)
The spike was so dramatic and pronounced that we nearly assumed it was a record.
A search of our database, though, revealed an even busier hourlong period on a different Sunday night a few weeks prior. On Sunday, May 1, the 11PM EDT hour was even higher, well above 3 times average traffic, and lightyears away from the rest of the pack. So what happened then?
It was the precise hour of President Obama’s press conference announcing the death of Osama bin Laden. Talk about a newsworthy event.
We’re thrilled that people nationwide are using GroupMe to talk about exciting moments in the news as they happen with their closest friends and family, and we look forward to seeing this record broken again and again over the coming months.
This weekend here in New York, hundreds of hackers will participate in the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon. That same event was the birthplace of GroupMe last year, so we’re really excited to see what gets made this year. We’ll also be presenting an API workshop and talk today to show attendees how to use GroupMe in their hacks this weekend, and our co-founders will be giving a talk on how to create a viable product in a 24-hour hackathon.
In that spirit, we’re so excited to introduce the GroupMe Client Library today. We’re giving select developers access to a collection of drop-in UI components for Android and iPhone, as well as access to our API. You can bring full GroupMe functionality to your app in minutes—and then customize it however you want from there.
Here’s a quick screenshot tour of what it looks like.
This is a very simple sample app we created just to show what integration of our Client Library could look like. It’s fully customizable, so you’re not confined to what’s seen here, but it’s just a quick example of how easy it is to add GroupMe to any app.
GroupMe tab with introduction to GroupMe. Tap “Start a group…”
Put in your phone number (if already registered with GroupMe, the app is authenticated. if not, we send a PIN to register that number with GroupMe).
Create a group by adding people from contacts or by number or email. Hit done…
And you can view, edit, text, and call the group directly from inside this other app. Tap “Open GroupMe…”
…and you can view the full text of the chat from inside the GroupMe app. If you don’t have the GroupMe app, you’re prompted to install it. Tap the grey “Return to” bar, and you are returned right back to the other app.
Only the groups you’ve created in this other app appear in it… your full list of groups, including any made in third-party apps, will still appear in the GroupMe app.
The Client Library for iOS here, and the SDK for Android is here. Inside you will get a Xcode workspace containing two projects: the actual Client Library and a demo app showing the basic usage of the drop-in UI components and making direct API requests with it. Make sure to read the README.mdown file to guide you through bootstrapping the Client Library in your app. The documentation for the API available to the client libraries can be found here.
You’ll be seeing this library in action in the apps of a few of our brand partners to start, but we’re looking forward to seeing where else it can go. All the repositories are public, but you’ll need an access key to use the API. Request a key here.
We here at GroupMe HQ are big fans of Foursquare, and we’ve heard that a lot of our users love it as well. Today, we’re releasing a fun new feature that integrates the best of Foursquare into the GroupMe experience.
Try it out now: visit groupme.com/foursquare. After you connect your Foursquare account, we make it easy to start a group with the friends that are at or near your latest Foursquare checkin.
Imagine it with us: you’re at a concert and notice on Foursquare that a bunch of your friends are there too. But you don’t know where they are or how to get everyone together. You open up groupme.com/foursquare on your phone, check off all their names, and you’re instantly dropped into a GroupMe. With one text, everyone can plan where to go next.
We’re also open sourcing a lot of the code behind this new feature—check out boy wonder developer Pat Nakajima’s Ruby wrapper for the Foursquare API. It’s named John Mayer, of course.
Pat and our cofounder Steve Martocci will be presenting all this at tomorrow’s Foursquare Hack Day at General Assembly. You know, just a few months ago, GroupMe was born at a hack day here in New York, so contributing to this awesome hacker culture is really important to us.
To recap: start a group with people nearby, check out John Mayer, and come say hi and make cool things at the Foursquare Hack Day. Happy Friday!
It seems like it was just last month that we announced a batch of new hires—oh, wow, it was! Time flies when you’re working hard. Well, we’re back at it again. Today, we’re thrilled to introduce the four newest members of Team GroupMe.
Chris Connolly, a good friend of Jared and Steve’s, started a few weeks ago as our Front-End Engineer and he’s already killing it. He’ll be focusing on usability here, creating beautiful interfaces built on equally beautiful code. He has spent the last few years working in the fashion e-commerce space, and in his free time, manages the website of the band Vampire Weekend.
Geoff Hackett has been hard at work the last few weeks as our Lead Android Developer. He’s been developing for Android since its beginning, and is the creator of the excellent (and useful!) NYC Bus & Subway Maps app, as well as working on Polamalooza and other apps for Densebrain. Under his watch, our Android app is growing up—and it’s on full steam ahead towards the unbelievable 2.0.
Kevin David Crowe starts today as our new Lead Designer. Kevin comes to us from CollegeHumor, where he created beautiful interfaces for their native apps and website and worked on their recent rebranding as Interaction Designer. After he worked on a freelance project with Jared last year, we knew we had to bring him on board. His work is, in a word, awesome, and we can’t wait to see what he does here at GroupMe.
Finally, today is the first day for Tara Cunningham, our new Office Manager! She’s spent the last few years working at MetLife, in many consulting and management roles in cities across the country. Now, she’s jumping headfirst with us into the exciting world of startups. Her skills and drive are unmatched, and we’re excited to have her whipping this office into shape—it’s going to be fun.
With these great new additions, Team GroupMe is thirteen strong. Together, we’re building lots of incredible new things that we’ll be releasing over the coming weeks and months—just wait ‘til you see what we’ve been working on.
Of course, we’re always looking for great new talent to join the team. If you love GroupMe and want to help out, we’d love to hear from you. Send us a note: email@example.com.
So there we were, Friday night, at the Crunchie Awards in San Francisco. As you may have heard, we were nominated for two awards—Best Social App and Best New Startup of 2010. Well, we didn’t win either of them, but we’re proud to have been nominated, and really happy for the great group of startups we were up against. You know, we didn’t win the TechCrunch Hackathon we were born at either, but we turned out OK!
Now this is where it gets weird.
The next night, we were relaxing at our hotel when a bunch of people broke in and blindfolded us. We were led to a car, which drove us to a secret location. When we arrived, they removed our blindfolds. All we can say is that it was a gorgeous grotto on the water with a breathtaking view of the city. Really an amazing place.
Our memories of that night, to be honest, are a little fuzzy. We remember a candlelit ceremony, and TechCrunch staffers in robes. Our last memory is sipping ceremonial wine out of ornate goblets.
The next thing we knew, we woke up next to a Crunchie award with our company’s name on it. Check it out:
For what could we have won this mysterious award? It doesn’t indicate the title anywhere.
Our only clues are these mysterious pictures, apparently sent to our “Team GroupMe” GroupMe by founders Jared and Steve during that fateful night.
One depicts TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington giving a backrub to a gorilla, which is holding our Crunchie.
The other depicts our mysterious Crunchie on a beautiful throne.
We’ve been trying to reach the team at TechCrunch all day but their phones are giving us busy signals and they won’t return our emails. Very strange, indeed.
What is going on? Have any other startups won this secret Crunchie? Does anyone know what it’s for? Let us know on Twitter. We’re getting worried.
We just wanted to take a minute to address the brief downtime we experienced on Friday evening that delayed some messages throughout the weekend.
Here’s developer Brandon Keene with an elegant postmortem on the technical side of things:
Our hosting provider, Heroku, fixed a security vulnerability last week. In response a Heroku-affiliated vendor, RedisToGo, changed our password without warning or notification. This caused our Redis connection to them to fail and crashed the app. We didn’t lose any texts, but the site was unavailable for about 30 minutes. In response, we updated our credentials and brought the app back up.
Since this was an emergency deploy, we missed an error caused by a deleted type of delayed job. This missing job crashed our job workers and resulted in texts being queued, but not delivered. Once we realized this, we fixed the error and worked down previously queued jobs. This resulted in texts being sent much later than intended.
We’ve fixed these particular failures and have increased monitoring to ensure we catch and resolve these issues quicker.
In short, we were caught off-guard by one of our providers, the app went down, and once we got it back up, it took longer than it should have for the backlogged texts to be sent. We’re incredibly sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.
It’s fixed now, and we’re doing everything we can to ensure it won’t happen again. If you’re having trouble with GroupMe at any point, or have any suggestions or questions, we’d love to talk to you and figure it all out. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the way, we always send out alerts on our Twitter when we’re experiencing technical issues, so follow us there, and you’ll always be in the loop.
Thanks for your patience and support, and thanks for using GroupMe!