Where Did Groovie Come From?

Beginnings — Reddit Place

Apparently, I love consumer products. I didn’t entirely realize this was the case until I looked at my “App Ideas” list. I keep a list of ideas that I come up with for apps that I think would be fun and interesting for me to use. Guess how many of those ideas on the list are not consumer-facing? 0. And that wasn’t on purpose. One of these ideas would go on to become Groovie. So how did I come up with Groovie?

Let’s go back to April Fools’ Day of 2017 (I’m not joking). Reddit put out a collaborative project/social experiment subreddit called Place (). A digital canvas was created that allowed users to add to a community art piece, one pixel at a time. A user could place 1 colored pixel, but would then be put on a timeout and would not be allowed to place a subsequent pixel for a time ranging from 5–20 minutes. What this meant is that you could contribute to the art piece and influence the direction that it would go, but it wasn’t possible for any one person to completely control what happened in the art piece. It was truly a collaborative project. As time went on, what started out as somewhat of a discombobulated mess, morphed into an incredible, unique work of art. The project only lasted for 72 hours and then it was complete.

blue corner of reddit place art piece
blue corner of reddit place art piece
Blue corner

The first distinguishable area on the canvas that looked like it was actually coordinated and on-purpose was a corner of purely blue pixels. This led to a Pokemon-honoring bit, and then exploded into a smorgasbord of themes, from popular subreddits, to the flags of dozens of countries, to famous art pieces such as The Starry Night and Mona Lisa. It was truly mind-blowing that anything like that could be accomplished within those constraints and was really a lesson to me in how innovative and compounding collaboration could be. But alas, the project ended, never again to be repeated. At least on Reddit.

Behold the reddit/r/place progression in all its glory

Make It An App!

So I figured, why should it end? Why not make collaborative, digital art more common and accessible? If there was an app for that, the world would see some awesome pieces come out of it. And so it went onto my “App Ideas” list. And there it sat for a bit. I’d periodically ruminate on my list and try to refine the ideas or flesh them out a bit more. It helped me to see whether there was really something there or if it was an idea without substance. Sometimes it led me to branch off into new ideas. As I was thinking about this collaborative art app, I started expanding the idea to anything that could be collaborative. Strangely, my next idea was a collaborative problem-solving app. I was thinking about some of these unsolved mathematical equations or problems in science and wondered if the process couldn’t be made a little easier if literally anybody could get on an app, see a problem, and add their brain power to it, possibly solving it. There wouldn’t be qualifications. You wouldn’t have to be a scientist or a professor. You could just be a janitor who just really likes mathematics.

Matt Damon from Good Will Hunting movie solves math problem on chalkboard
Just a janitor that likes math

Next, I moved onto video. What if anybody could collaborate together on a movie or video? You see collaborations happen often among creators and influencers (though not often enough). Again, what if anybody could collaborate together on a video? No qualifications needed, you don’t need to be an influencer. What sort of videos would come from that? I like floating my ideas past people to get their thoughts. So I was happy when Gilbert Warner, my co-founder, moved into the house where I live in March of 2019. Gilbert had already started his own company previously and was very interested in the startup world. He also had a fantastic knowledge of social video platforms such as Snapchat, TikTok, Youtube, Instagram, etc. I have used all of these and had a decent knowledge of them, but Gilbert had some next-level insider knowledge. So as I ran him through my list of ideas, he latched onto this one immediately and said, “This one has potential.” I talked it through with him and we narrowed it down to short 15-second videos that could be added together to make a collaborative video with a maximum length of 2 minutes. I originally was just thinking of having the ability to create any length of videos, even full-length movies! You know, like a group movie…I mean, like a Groovie. 😏

Collaboration Pains

One thing led to another, Gilbert officially came on board, and we really dove into Groovie to expand on what it would do and what it would accomplish. Collaborations on video don’t happen enough right now because of how difficult it is to collaborate with another person. It typically requires some degree of travel to meet up with that person, constant communication over email, text, or phone calls to try and coordinate, the hassle of sharing video files back and forth with Dropbox, and then trying to put those videos together into one video which you can finally post. That takes a ton of time and effort. It should not be this hard. Why isn’t there an easy way to instantly collaborate with anybody, influencers with fans, random people with random people, and yes, still influencers with influencers?

The closest we found at the time was the Stitch and Duo features on TikTok. These features were not very well known or used at the time and they also didn’t quite accomplish what I had originally envisioned with Groovie. But TikTok alone is huge and just having them provide a feature was validation in and of itself. So we knew we were on the right track.

Fast forward to today, Groovie has launched publicly in the App Store after a months-long beta! We’ve seen TikTok’s Stitch and Duo features become much more popular and we’ve seen the entire collaborative social media landscape begin to take-off, with the likes of Clubhouse and Collab being released, to name a couple. The future of social media is collaborative. It’s going to move away from this one-to-many mode it has been in for years and become many-to-many. Groovie is helping lead this movement. So how can you join Groovie? We’re live on the right now. Download Groovie now and enjoy creating together!

CEO & Co-founder @GroovieInc | Senior iOS Engineer @HearsaySystems. I like my instant pot, and I fake skateboarding with the teens.