A few days back I had the chance to speak with Derek Johnson a talented entrepreneur and Founder & CEO of networkText. networkText allows any group to communicate for free with text messaging. It was created to allow groups to connect with their members more efficiently. Read our previous review on networkText.
Me: Please tell us about your biography.
Derek: I’ve always been an entrepreneur.
In High School I started a handful of various small businesses, one of them growing into a very successful and profitable company that I was able to sell my Sophomore year in College. I attended the University of Washington in Seattle for two years and then went on to the University of Houston and was one of only 30 students accepted into their Entrepreneurship Program. It was there that I came up with the concept for networkText and soon realized that I needed to take a sabbatical to devote 100% of my time to this new venture.
Me: Tell us about your background and role in your company.
Derek: The most important role I have at networkText is really to bring in the best people and find their place within our team. We have a great product and an amazing team, which makes my job extremely rewarding!
Me: What are the main features of networkText?
Derek: networkText allows groups the ability to send out text messages to all their group members for free. We just launched two new features, which will be very beneficial for any group using networkText.
The first feature, if activated on an account, allows anyone the ability to join a text messaging group from their own mobile phone. To join a group from a mobile phone, simply text message the group name to the phone number 68398. This is a great feature for marketing, recruiting potential members and for instances where a group administrator may not have an email or phone number for all their group members.
The second feature networkText offers is the ability to text message an entire group directly from an administrators phone. We realized it was impractical to tether someone to a computer when they need to get a message out to a group, so now a group administrator can communicate with their entire group via text messaging, no matter where they are.
Me: What makes your website different from other websites competing in your industry.
Derek: At networkText we have three key areas that separate us from our competition.
1) It’s Free! – From the beginning, I realized that we had to keep networkText free if we wanted to have have mass appeal with groups. To allow us to keep the service free for groups, networkText inserts 30 character actionable advertisements at the bottom of all the text messages.
2) Customer Service – We take customer support very seriously and put an enormous amount of effort into making sure that we are always around if a user needs us. We also offer any group that needs it, help to create their account, set up their group or even upload their members.
3) Simplicity – We have stripped the website down to the bare necessities to make sure that our users aren’t distracted or confused by flash or excessive features that aren’t needed for group communications. We have had an enormous amount of excellent feedback about the simplicity of the website and how easy everything is, which we are very proud of.
Me: Tell us more about your websites success story?
Derek: We launched the website late in October, and in the last month, we have made leaps and bounds with the company and the growth of our users/text messages.
In terms of the company, we have added to the networkText team, a CTO, VP of marketing and VP of sales, in addition to increasing our employee count to six. networkText has also established very beneficial partnerships with national advertisers and websites such as MyChapterRoom.com.
In regards to networkText users and text messages, we have seen a tremendous amount of growth recently. Alone this week we added another 20,000 users to the site and have seen days pushing upwards of 35,000 text messages. I credit the growth in our user-base to the additions in our marketing team, support from blogs such as yours and our users spreading the word about networkText.
Me: What are some of the myths in your field?
Derek: The largest myth that we at networkText are constantly battling in our marketing comes from potential users putting us into the same category as cell phone ring-tone services/daily horoscope readings etc. We are very different from these services in that every feature we offer on our website is completely free.
Me: How do you develop your skills in this continuously changing environment?
Derek: I rely heavily on our company advisers to help me develop my skills. Our experienced advisor group plays a crucial role in guiding our company during this substantial growth period. It has been a huge learning experience for me starting this business from the ground up and being there every step of the way from its inception.
Me: What do you see as the future of the industry.
Derek: I predict that MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) will create a huge change in the industry. It will have an impact on the way we can advertise in the messages to groups. Currently we insert 30 character advertisements at the bottom of our messages, but I can foresee in the future networkText having the ability to display logos, videos and a much more interactive advertisement to our users.
Me: What will be the challenges, do you anticipate any drastic changes?
Derek: Keeping message latency at our current level of under ten seconds as we grow beyond 50,000 messages a day will be a technical hurdle. We will have to scale the hardware rapidly, while maintaining our current standards of reliability and availability. We’ve planned for scaling since the beginning, so we won’t need to make any serious changes on the software side, but we’re starting to approach the limits of our existing hardware. Again, we’ve planned for growth, so bringing on additional hardware should be a seamless process.
Me: Where do you see your company/website in the next 5 years? What about you personally?
Derek: In the next year, I see networkText becoming the leader in group text messaging for the USA and Canada. I also see networkText starting to gain traction in the UK. I see myself personally learning and continually adapting with the changes as the company and the industry move into the future.