Social network car plates

by Miranda Adler

Photo courtesy of bump.com
Photo courtesy of bump.com

It was only a matter of time before social media took the driver’s seat — literally. Launched last September, bump.com makes it possible to send a message to anyone in the United States via license plate. After users “claim” their license plate on the site, they can begin sending and receiving messages through e-mail, text or voice.

Aside from the social aspect, bump.com boasts safety alerts and business perks.

CEO and serial entrepreneur Mitch Thrower said the idea came about when investors asked him to create a business that would generate revenue from day one and built around a model that everyone already had an account for, a venture that could grow as fast as other social media platforms. Thrower sees bump.com as Facebook for cars, Groupon meets Foursquare.

“In the U.S. we have more than 300 million people and 250 million registered vehicles,” Thrower said. “The best way to create a better society is to add crowd-sourced accountability and open communication, safely.”

Here’s how it works: Users register their license plate on bump.com and can begin sending and receiving messages. Bump.com uses existing security cameras, license plate scanning technology and information added by registered users to track each user’s habits. These “echoes,” a term coined by bump.com, make up the system by which users can receive benefits based on where they’ve been.

Thrower said it isn’t known when people are ready for new technology, and ideas can only flourish based on consumer feedback. Thrower added that people are resistant to new ideas until they know what benefits can arise from them.

“What if you knew you could drive to the Coachella Music Festival and receive 20 percent off of any of the performers’ iTunes downloads because your license plate drove into the Coachella parking lot?” Thrower asked. “Imagine if you knew you could win season tickets to the Chargers because your car was spotted in the parking lot four times; or if you drove a Honda and knew you could get a free oil change at the dealership.”

To date, most of the experiences people have concerning a relationship with their license plate, such as parking tickets and registration fees, have been negative, Thrower said. He believes bump.com could change this.

In the heart of La Jolla, bump.com headquarters buzzes with a positive vibe and innovative minds. Students from all of San Diego’s universities are welcome to apply for jobs and internships. Thrower said the target audience of bump.com is college students who actively broadcast daily experiences.

San Diego State graduate and bump.com employee Sean Devlin was spotted taking a break on the company’s rooftop workspace.

“It’s refreshing to see a new outlook on corporate culture,” Devlin said.

Be on the lookout for the bump.com mobile application, coming soon to the iPhone, Android and Blackberry.