Text messaging service looks to redefine social connections

Texting, as we know it, was due for an adrenaline jolt in a world now dominated by the social media conversation.

What: Texting, as we know it, was due for an adrenaline jolt in a world now dominated by the social media conversation. Into the picture comes GroupMe, a group text messaging and location service that launched last September.

The company, cofounded by Steve Martocci and Jared Hecht, provides a service that makes it possible for a specific group of people to communicate by text messages simultaneously with just one phone number. For instance, when one person in a created group sends out a text, the message is also sent to everyone else in the group.

Recent service updates in- clude sharing location (as seen on an Android, right) and photos. The NewYork-based startup has raised about $11 million in funding.

How: Users start a group by visiting the service's website or Web app for smartphones. The user enters his or her name and cellphone number and is issued a separate unique cell number to be shared among a group. A person can be added to a group by entering his or her name and cell number.

"My fiancée was coordinating a trip to a music festival over an email chain," recalls Hecht. "She grew frustrated when go-time came around and not everyone had a smartphone, some people didn't check email regularly, and there wasn't always a data connection. Group communication should be easier."

Why: If mobile is where it's at, then GroupMe is an extension of group mobile communication on the fly or in the field for anyone with a cellphone or smartphone.

"We're most excited about GroupMe being representative of a new social graph - one that's scoped down and more reminiscent of your real-life connections," says Hecht.

Who: Connections can be both personal and professional. A host of tech agencies used the service at January's CES in Las Vegas. The event can be a mass of people and chaos, but GroupMe helped many of these agency executives stay on the same page with colleagues at all times.

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