by Oona Lundgren, Staff Writer, May 2022
Full disclosure: I went into my conversation with Ali Coleman, Antonio Cosentino, and Aidin Bina (all Class III) with some predispositions. Rumors had circulated about their mysterious GroupMe recruiting scheme, but their business savvy was undeniable. People under the age of 45 were talking about GroupMe for the first time ever (aside from the handful of sports teams than use the messaging platform), begging the question: what’s going on behind the closed boardroom doors?
The reality of the project is something shockingly legitimate. The sophomores are working with a branch of Microsoft interested in extending GroupMe use to high schools. “It’s pretty much an externship,” Cosentino said. “As you would do an internship for a company during the summer, we did this during school.” Cosentino explained the contest: educational institutions ranging from small independent high schools to enormous research universities compete to gain the highest number of new accounts within their community.
The project was sparked by Cosentino’s contact in Microsoft who wanted to get teenagers at Nobles involved. Cosentino was tasked with building a corporate dream team, and said, “I knew Ali [Coleman] as a hard-working […] guy, and he seemed genuinely interested […] and Bina is very good with people.”
The jumpstart to their success was an ambush campaign of light bribery (rewarding GroupMe sign-ups with donuts in Gleason). Coleman reported that the bulk of their signup success was in the first four days of that release. After such an impressive turnout at the outset, GroupMe sign-ups have slowed slightly, but are still increasing. Posters around the school keep the movement alive. One in Baker Science Building reads “Connect on GroupMe Today!” with the allure of easy-to-use group chats for classes, sports, and clubs as well as a scannable QR code.
At the beginning of their journey, part of the motivation was the contest’s grand prize of an Xbox, as well as the allure of bragging rights. But the boys’ priorities have taken a 180. After attending business workshops as part of the contest, they were inspired. “It’s pretty cool to learn from people that have been successful with these marketing strategies and to see them be applied in the real world,” Bina said. Their hard work has paid off as well: with 105 signups as of now, they lead the high school circuit of the contest by dozens. With the deadline soon, the boys are still looking for registrations.