Posted: October 07, 2013
Tech startup: TextUs.BizEric Peterson
INITIAL LIGHT BULB Before starting TextUs.Biz, Ted Guggenheim, Andrew Kimmell and Mike Hickman worked together at Rage Digital, the Boulder app-maker best known for its virtual cowbell used during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The trio witnessed the mobile app market becoming increasingly saturated and realized that text messaging had not been leveraged to its full potential by the business community.
“The whole premise behind TextUs.Biz is we build text-powered apps for business,” explains Guggenheim. “The most ubiquitous form of communication is now text; there are more texts sent than emails.”
Apps require some legwork on the part of users, he adds, but not texts. “Everybody text-messages,” says Guggenheim. “We wanted to give businesses a way to open up a personal conversation with their customers.”
The four-employee company has released two products, and a third is in development.
IN A NUTSHELL TextUs.Biz’s debut app, Text Messaging for Business, enables 10-digit landlines for texting.
“There’s this whole layer of functionality that’s been overlooked,” says Guggenheim. “Phones bottleneck, but not texts.”
The company’s second product, iPad Receptionist, came out in June, stemming from a request from Foundry Group. The Boulder-based venture capital firm was looking for an app that would essentially replace a receptionist for greeting visitors.
“More and more offices don’t have a receptionist or a front desk,” says Guggenheim. Now when visitors arrive, they announce their arrival via iPad and it texts and/or emails their contact at the company. It can also require a signature or take a picture.
Nearly 90 companies have signed up for a trial, and Foundry’s Brad Feld gives the app high marks. “We’ve been able to redesign the entry to our office to be receptionist-less as a result of iPad Receptionist,” Feld says. “In our attempt to be more monastic, the app lets us have a regular flow of visitors through our office who get immediately connected with the right person without interrupting others.”
Text Messaging for Business starts at $24 a month, and iPad Receptionist starts at $49. A $1,000 kiosk/iPad/app package is also available for the latter.
Coming out this fall is Waitlist, which “allows restaurants to have ongoing two-way conversations with their guests,” says Guggenheim. “When the table’s ready, you press a button and a text message is sent. It replaces those plastic vibrating tools.”
THE MARKET “Some verticals find texting more powerful than others,” says Guggenheim, highlighting hospitality, auto repair, health and beauty as primary business-to-business markets for Text Messaging for Business. iPad Receptionist targets front desk-less offices, and Waitlist is aimed solely at restaurants.
FINANCING TextUs.Biz recently raised a seed round from Gries Investment Fund, a private equity firm in Tampa, Fla.
where Boulder | FOUNDED 2011 | web www.textus.biz
“With an app, the customer has to have a smartphone, and the customer has to discover and download the app to use it. That’s not the case with texting. It’s instantaneous.”
— Ted Guggenheim, TextUs.Biz co-founder.
Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com