TechStars Boston Alum Sensobi Joins Forces With GroupMe To Better Organize Mobile Social Network

5/19/11Follow @xconomy

Mobile app developer Sensobi reaped the benefits of the tight-knit New York tech startup community earlier this month, you could say. CEO and founder Ajay Kulkarni calls it “a fortuitous introduction that turned into something bigger.” That would be Sensobi’s acquisition by GroupMe.

Sensobi, which I profiled last January, offers a $10 BlackBerry app that organizes users’ phone contacts based on who they communicate with the most, and offers tools for staying in better touch with the friends and family they unwittingly neglect.

The two-person startup has taken in no outside capital, save for the $12,000 TechStars provided through its Boston incubator program. Sensobi was part of the program’s inaugural TechStars Boston class in 2009. The startup is now based in New York, moving from its 21st and Broadway offices to GroupMe’s digs on 17th and 5th Avenue.

Sensobi and GroupMe connected through introductions by other members of the New York startup community, Kulkarni told me on a phone call last week. GroupMe, a one-year-old startup focused on group messaging for the mobile sector, has raised $11.5 million in venture funding.

“We have the same vision and same beliefs that your real social network is on your phone,” he says. “GroupMe was helping to create groups with them. Ours was helping people stay in touch with them. We found we’d be even stronger together.” Sensobi’s app has more than 100,000 downloads, and GroupMe is set to send 100 million messages next month, Kulkarni says.

When it was acquired, Sensobi was working on a private beta version on its app for Android and a notetaking app called Sensobi Jot. It hadn’t broken into the iPhone arena yet, and will use the GroupMe platform to do so, says Kulkarni. These developments and other changes to Sensobi will be rolled into the GroupMe technology, he says. The new company also plans to expand the original Sensobi app that debuted on Blackberry, and work on analytics across all platforms, he adds.

“It’s hard to specifically say what the full integration will look like,” says Kulkarni. “The end game is still helping you stay in touch with your important contacts. We’re still trying to solve the same problem.”

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