How GroupMe Founders' Friendship Turned Into A Rocketship

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1geX9Mbsw6E&w;=550&h;=360]

GroupMe founders Jared Hecht and Steve Martocci joined Startup Grind’s Brian Park on June 26th at Alley NYC. An enthusiastic and mixed crowd of entrepreneurs, tech, and business development people came out to hear about the creation and growth of GroupMe and to ask some pointed questions.

GroupMe is a mobile group messaging application that became a breakout success at SXSW 2011 and now has 11 million domestic users. Jared and Steve first conceived GroupMe during a hackathon at TechCrunch Disrupt 2010. After a meteoric launch, the pair went on to raise $10.6 million in venture capital and angel funding before being acquired by Skype for $80 million. Microsoft subsequently purchased Skype in May 2011.

“Solve One Hard Problem Per Day.”

The question on everyone’s mind is, “how do I start a successful company?” Jared and Steve were candid about luck and meeting the right people. While timing is important, it helps to have a solid foundation, whether business or technical, and a good network. They were lucky enough to find each other through music as a common thread and over the years their friendship only grew stronger. Jared started out at Tumblr, which was just acquired by Yahoo!, and Steve landed at Gilt after launching a startup. Steve spoke to the audience about working on one hard problem everyday while at Gilt and the importance of constant learning and execution.

“Hire the Best People and Learn to Delegate.”

After launching a company, hopefully, the next step will be to scale. Both Jared and Steve benefitted from working at high-growth startups during their early days and learned some key fundamentals for running and growing a company; Particularly how to put the right people into the right roles and finding a technical co-founder. Jared stressed complementary skill sets, dialogue, and questioning each other’s assumptions.

The full video of the interview, including Jared and Steve’s take on funding, and the lively question and answer segment is now up on the Startup Grind page: http://www.youtube.com/

“Thanks Jared and Steve -- this was very insightful and a great story to hear. Best of luck!” –Ashish S.

Special thanks to Alley NYC for providing a wonderful space with great energy and all of our volunteers who did a great job!

Written: Khari Parson, co-community manager