A little less than a year after being acquired by Skype for an estimated $80 million, GroupMe’s* founders Jared Hecht and Steve Martocci are still in startup mode. Today the company released “Experiences by GroupMe,” the biggest expansion beyond its core group messaging function.
The service, which was released to select New York users this morning, offers groups of friends a handpicked list of events like, say, a concert, dinner, or UCB improv showcase in Central Park. Each event comes with an “I want to do this” button and lets users create a landing page with a unique URL to recruit friends to sign up. Experiences then lets you split the bill–using standard Visa, Amex, and Mastercard options that won’t charge your card until all the spots have been reserved. Better still, GroupMe builds a group around the event for you to communicate with everyone who’s attending.
“We own the experience end-to-end,” Mr. Hecht told Betabeat over the phone.
Made in NYC
Startups like to build big syndicates of investors so they can draw on a wide network and range of special skills. But GroupMe’s Jared Hecht thinks having too many backers can make life hell for a startup. After all, would you prefer to focus on managing the business, or run around trying to lock down a dozen signatures and votes for every big decision.
GroupMe, the humble startup that went from hackathon to $85 million exit in less than two years, is now officially owned by Microsoft. But they’re still GroupMe from the block! The startup is offering a meet-and-greet through Sidetour, a TechStars startup trying to create a freelancer-powered activity market. “Talk Startups and Play Pinball With GroupMe” will set you back $20, which goes to benefit the HackNY startup internship program.
“We feel fantastic! It’s great. We feel very good about it, it’s a really great thing for us,” GroupMe co-founder Jared Hecht told Betabeat when we reached him this afternoon. Mr. Hecht sounded as polished and level-headed as usual, if not terribly articulate while co-founder Steve Martocci claimed to be recovering from last night’s celebratory karaoke. The pair were in the backseat of a taxi on the way to film an interview about the 16-month old group messaging start-up’s recently many-million dollar acquisition by Skype. “GroupMe and Skype as a whole is just a positive thing.”
Bonus Update – Hecht says GroupMe is moving out of their shared office and heading to Union Square. Now they can group chat with VCs face to face!
Jared Hecht is on Inc today doing a live chat. He shared a little story about how they raised funds.