(EDITOR’S NOTE: The annual “Startup Week Chattanooga” is underway and what better way to celebrate it than a story about one of the city’s recent new ventures that has experienced several significant milestones.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Five years after its founding, Chattanooga’s Text Request is poised for significant growth after doubling its annual recurring revenue (ARR) in the last year and more than tripling its employee headcount since 2018.
“I’m excited for our future,” says Brian Elrod, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer. Part of that optimism comes from the fact that the numbers cited above – 16 new employees added to just six and $2 million in ARR – have come without any outside investment.
During a recent telephone interview, Elrod said the company that offers text messaging software for businesses and other organizations has signed-up customers in all 50 states, Canada and the Caribbean.
Those clients are in 74 different industry sectors – everything from accountants, clubs and credit unions at the first of the alphabet to private schools, retailers and realtors near the end. Elrod notes that two segments in particular – staffing and home services – have helped propel its growth.
Regardless of sector, however, Text Request’s growth has been fueled by one all-important fact: it identified a real customer need or pain point.
“We realized everyone’s favorite form of communication was texting, but businesses did not have a software tool to manage that process,” Elrod says. “We give companies all the features and tools they need to communicate in an organized fashion.”
The Text Request solution allows users to replace the phone calls and emails that they have been using with the more popular texting without losing the functionality and other features that keep some people tied to email.
“We give you a professional way to text so you can reach people faster,” the company states on its webpage. The product allows Text Request’s messaging service and all of its features to be added to a client’s current landline, toll-free, or VOIP number. By adding Click-to-Text and SMS Chat to a website or Google ads, Text Request’s clients can convert more mobile viewers.
The company has posted 19 case examples from various sectors on its website.
As far as the future, Elrod sees several growth opportunities. One is simply more penetration into the various sectors it already serves. Another is expanding on an international basis. Further product enhancements will also drive growth.
“The product is incredible, we treat our customers like family, we’re profitable, and the potential for growth is massive,” Elrod says. “Imagine or remember what it was like when email first rolled out. Not having email for your business was essentially like handing your customers over to your competitors. That’s what it’s like if you’re not utilizing texting, and small businesses are waking up to that.”
What’s it like growing a tech-based in Chattanooga? For Elrod, it’s not his first start-up rodeo; he founded two previous ventures, albeit in the retail space.
“Attracting talent has not been an issue,” he says. “All-in-all, we’ve got a good deal of talent here. Chattanooga starts with being a place people want to live because of the lifestyle.”