GeoGroups App: Creating A Real-World Marauder's Map
On December 8th, Raghav Gupta, CEO of GeoTerrestrial, Inc., launched a free, geo-social mobile app that allows groups, large or small, private or public, to interact, explore, and share real-time information (photos, links, tips, etc.), all using the same map. Think: Harry Potter's Marauder's Map, if everyone you knew had one.
Perhaps it was all those years Mr. Gupta spent creating algorithms to make eBay more people-friendly, only to come to terms with the realization that it's not about people, it's about making money. Perhaps it's the nature of a mathematician to question the make-up of the universe and our place in it. Whatever the reason, when Gupta walked away from his job at eBay, he spent the next two years focusing on helping people find themselves--and the things they care most about--without having to rely on stores or other venues the way FourSquare does to provide locational context.
"The venue-based check-in services are only a sliver of what is possible in the geo-social space," says Gupta. "We worked with our thousands of beta users to create a platform that gives anyone the freedom to simply and easily build very personalized groups limited only by their imaginations. Very soon, the platform will also let group owners monetize their networks."
Riffing on recent mapping advances such as geocoding and GPS tracking, this public/private, location-based networking holds all the potential that can be poured into it by its users. New users create either public or private groups and utilize these to build unique, personalized maps with the help of others within their groups.
Private maps may be the most interesting of the app's inventions. For example, a private group might include several friends meeting up at the Half Moon Bay, CA Pumpkin Festival. As these friends approach the group's designated meeting spot at a local cafe, they find that two of their buddies have been waylaid, nearby. The missing duo suddenly post for their friends the location and photo of a pub they want to share with everyone. By following the movements of the two, missing friends' dots on the map in real-time, and passing in-app chat messages (without incurring SMS charges!), the rest of the group catch up with their pioneering friends and the day's fun begins. In fact, the female staff at all of the pubs in town are so cute, the lone bachelor of the bunch sets up a GeoAlert so he'll be notified every time he comes within a specified distance of any beer vendor. And the rest of his friends can set a GeoAlert on him, so they'll be able to grab him if he strays too far from the group.Continued on the next page