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Bootstrapping an App to $10 Million in Revenue: Christophe Bach, CEO of TextMe (Part 4)

Posted on Monday, Jan 6th 2014

Sramana: After you launched the product in three months, what kind of ramp did you see in terms of adoption?

Christophe: That’s a long time ago. Julien, have you seen the historical figures lately?

Julien: Yeah, I did. If you talk about 2011, I want to say the numbers would look small for now. I would say the first two months, you are probably talking 15,000 to 20,000 new signups first month or so?

Christophe: It grew quite quickly to more than a 100,000 per month.

Sramana: What was the user count at the end of the 2011 for example?

Christophe: One million.

Sramana: You launched with a certain feature-set in the product that resonated with this teenage audience. What was the next inflection point where you started to move beyond the iPad only teenager audience to other segments? What were those other segments? What were the use cases? And when did that happen?

Christophe: We very quickly started to work on a much more complex product with the capability to do voice calls and video calls and that’s of course much more complex than doing only text. That took some time and we launched our full-featured product in May 2012, little over one year after the SMS product.

Sramana: You were enabling voice call and video call without a phone number, right? It’s an iPad-to-iPad communication is what you are saying?

Christophe: No, we were doing app-to-app, but from TextMe to any phone number.

Sramana: I see.

Christophe: Calling UK, France, India or wherever was possible from day one of the new product. This product was launched in May 2012 and it has good traction very early on because at that time we already had very good experience from a pretty large user base. We were able to do some kind of cross app promotion and a lot of people from our first app went into the second app and it was a step change in the experience. That’s the way we launched the second app in May 2012.

Sramana: What do you need on the other side to receive the call? Do you just get a straight call? I understand the pure voice call part, that is very simple, but in terms of video for example what do I need? If it’s a pure voice or pure text that’s simple, but if it’s a video what do I need on my receiving end?

Julien: Now for video we both need to be running the app.

Sramana: Okay. If I want to use this app, why would I not use Skype? What is the positioning?

Julien: TextMe is really built for mobile and it’s optimized for mobile, it connects to your address book, it was never build to be a desktop app like Skype was. It optimizes battery consumption, it looks better, your contacts are there with you, it’s just built for mobile which Skype was not. Skype was built for computers and then it sort of migrated to mobile. I think that’s probably the main reason.</p>

And then, there are a lot of important features that we have, that Skype doesn’t. We give away local phone numbers, for example, in the UK. If you sign up for TextMe you’re given a new seven-digit number which means anyone in the UK can call you on your TextMe number without even knowing about TextMe.

We allow people to send international SMS from the U.S to any country in the world and get a response which is something that Skype doesn’t allow.

Sramana: And this is a free app.

Julien: It’s an absolutely free app. You don’t have to pay for it.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Bootstrapping an App to $10 Million in Revenue: Christophe Bach, CEO of TextMe
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