Virginia Startup: SynkMonkey Keep Your Friends, & Your Plans In Sync INTERVIEW

We are all very aware of how difficult it is to keep plans in sync when it comes to life on the go running through a smartphone. Whether you’re a group of high school students, fraternity brothers or even golfing buddies, keeping your entire group “in sync” can be a challenge.

Now there’s of course Facebook and Facebook events but one of the huge disadvantages to Facebook is how hard it is to get distracted. I couldn’t tell you the number of times I needed an events address or to ping a friend for somewhere to go and then got sidetracked from my other notifications or even my wall. On the iPhone, iPad or Android phone this can be a wreck.

Enter Charlottesvile Virginia startup SyncMonkey. They combine three very key and important elements in events, activities and staying in sync. Those elements are calendars, mapping and friends. Using this app over traditional event apps keeps you in close contact with everyone that’s supposed to be there.

We got a chance to talk with Hunter Murchison of SyncMonkey about their excited startup, application and some big news, that they’re finally ready for Android. Check out the interview after the break and check out these great interviews, after this one.

What is SynkMonkey?

SynkMonkey is a mobile app for the iPhone and Android that is in the up and coming “social planning” category. SynkMonkey helps active smartphone users easily schedule plans with friends, family, or colleagues by combining three important functions of the phone – Calendars + Mapping + Messaging – into a one-stop, one-step app. We designed it to feel as easy to use as sending a text message, but it acts more like a calendar invite that includes built in mapping and group messaging capabilities. We want to make it easier for people to get out and meet people and cut down on the back and forth and flakiness often associated with how people make plans today.

Where are you based?

We are based in Charlottesville, Va. home of the University of Virginia. Both the founders have strong connections to the area having both earned two degrees from UVA, which gives us a strong network to leverage. Charlottesville is a great place for many reasons, but as it relates to SynkMonkey, we have benefited from starting our business here by simply helping us keep costs down to providing us easy access to a diverse set of people and businesses on which we can test our various hypotheses. We also have easy access to the DC area, which is great for getting involved in more formal startup events and meetups.

What’s the startup culture like in Charlottesville?

Like many places now, the startup culture and ecosystem is growing stronger here in Charlottesville. A lot of it is driven by UVA, both directly and indirectly, but also a very independent, self-starter culture has always existed here. So many smart people come out of UVA every year and I think the University is trying harder to expose those people to entrepreneurship through various programs. There is also a lot of research that gets produced at UVA which helps to spawn several new ventures every year. While a lot of these businesses are bio-tech or life sciences focused, we also had a good tech exit last year (Hotelicopter bought and folded into and Cardigan is strong and growing. There are a few Incubators around town that are really gearing up, so I think you will be seeing some interesting things coming out of Charlottesville in the next few years.

What problem does SynkMonkey solve?

At its core, we simply wanted to help users save time by making it easier to manage the process of getting people together. Smartphones are incredibly powerful devices, but a lot of their functionality is siloed and users have to flip between various programs. Before SynkMonkey, if you wanted to get some friends together to watch a game during the upcoming weekend, you could send them all a text message or email. Then, you are left managing multiple different conversations, keeping track of different people’s status, making sure people don’t forget, and reiterating where you are going. This process could include the use of SMS, email, calendars, maps, and more. SynkMonkey was designed to handle all of those tasks for you in one location and in a fraction of the time.

What is your secret sauce?

We think there are a few things that make SynkMonkey special. We have essentially re-designed the mobile calendar invite to make it more functional and more intuitive to use. SynkMonkey performs all of the normal tasks of a calendar invite (sets date/time, tracks RSVPs) in a more user-friendly way and also incorporates cross platform calendar syncing, mapping, and group messaging into the app. On the iPhone, your SynkMonkey events will automatically sync to and update your preferred calendar, creating a smoother experience for people who use different calendars (i.e. Google vs. Outlook). We also designed it to work with any of your mobile contacts, even if they do not have SynkMonkey, limiting any network effect. This means that if you send a SynkMonkey invite to someone that doesn’t have the app, they receive a special text message with a link to an event specific webpage where they can see all of the details of your event, RSVP, and send a group message.

What’s next for SynkMonkey?

We just want to continue to iterate on the app and create the best app possible for our users. So far, our users love what we have done and have given us great feedback and suggestions, so we look forward to taking SynkMonkey to the next level. This also includes building additional functionality into our website and starting to implement our eventual business model. In the meantime, we just want to continue growing our loyal user base.


Check out SynkMonkey here at their website

Here they are for Android

And here for iOS

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