Elliot Goldwater and John Zurbach, knee-deep in New York’s Financial sector trading bonds, asked themselves a simple question a little over a year ago “why isn’t this whole getting friends together thing easier?”
“We’re both social guys and the email chains and series of texts flying back and forth starting Wednesday and going through the weekend, it became too much to handle,” GiddyUp co-founder and CEO Goldwater said. “We thought it was a problem that resonated with a bunch of people, and we came together and started thinking of ways to solve the problem.”
That was April of 2011, and today marks the launch of their app epiphany GiddyUp. The app takes the good intentions of Facebook events, the immediacy of Twitter, and organizes it into what appears to be an incredibly focused event planning tool.
“Everyone asks if there is an 'ah ha!' moment, it wasn’t so much of an ah ha moment as it was our patience wearing down over time,” Goldwater said. “I feel like our social apps have become incredibly cluttered. I get Facebook event invites for lost cellphones now.”
Instead of recovering lost cell phone contacts Goldwater and company wanted to help social people organize an after work get together, or weekend plans. Most importantly they wanted to make the actual task stupid simple and make sure people you actually knew would actually show up.
This is how it works. You simply name your event, choose a time, use google maps to pinpoint the place address and all, add any notes you need to the event, choose the people from your contact list you want to invite and hit send. The people on the other end don’t even need to have the App installed. Everyone receives an SMS alert that will take them to the App if they have it installed, or to a page with the event information with a link to download the app. The application even includes a group chat function that everyone invited who has the app can use to communicate in-app.
“We’ve gone to great lengths to remove the first fax machine paradox. We developed it for the widest universe possible,” Goldwater said. “We did it so every smartphone or phone user who can receive SMS can get the same info as those with the app, and even RSVP without having the app.”
Goldwater and the team at GiddyUp went to great lengths to ensure that both iOS, and Android users could use the App, because friendships do cross party lines. Initially they used Appcelerator Titanium to develop the app for both platforms simultaneously, but the results were less than stellar.
“Load times were not great, performance was laggy, and we knew we needed to optimize things,” Goldwater said, “We took a step back and redeveloped the front-end natively for iOS and Android.”
The result is an extremely fast app, that does what it sets out to do, but getting to that point included a two month beta which proved invaluable.
"We had the people who were deep in the Tech echo participate, but also social people “Who aren’t always up to speed in the tech world,” Goldwater said. “When they started playing around with it we got a lot of feedback about what worked and didn’t. We did a lot of pre-design and pre-layout-planning and made assumptions about what was intuitive and what wasn’t. We came to find out that some things weren’t nearly as intuitive as we thought they were, and had to step back and simplify things.”
GiddyUp’s launch today hasn’t been without its hiccups, even if the App does have a 5-star rating after 14 reviews. Reports of push notification oddities, and a problem with how GiddUp recognizes UK phone numbers were a few of the reported problems, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed on the backend.
As far as the future of GiddyUp goes, Goldwater and his team have plans to bring back a daily deals integrated function that would allow users to share local deals with friends when creating events. While the feature was deemed too much right now, it does fit in with the spirit of the App.
“Ultimately we want to be the link between finding out about cool new places and actually doing something instead of just posting on some social network ‘ah this is cool,” Goldwater said. “We want people to go from discovery to action.”
Download GiddyUp here, send it to friends, Tweet it, share it on Facebook and use it to set up an event with at least three guests to be entered in a contest to win $1,000. The contest runs till May 3rd.