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Bootstrapping an App to $10 Million in Revenue: Christophe Bach, CEO of TextMe (Part 6)

Posted on Wednesday, Jan 8th 2014

Sramana: Talk about the execution side. You mentioned that the ad networks were not really setup to work with a telecom company in this mode. So which ad network were you able to work with to get this model going?

Julien: Christophe, you want to take that one?

Christophe: Yeah. I would not say that they were not happy to work with us. It’s just that they are not used to seeing companies like us.

Sramana: Did they have the capability to work with you? Was it technically viable to work with you?

Christophe: Yes. Technically, it was viable. We have been in this mobile space from the very beginning. It was not really a problem technically. It was more a matter of developing a relationship with people we didn’t know initially. But as the outcome of this relationship was very good, we had been noticed by the ecosystem very quickly.

Sramana: What did you need on your end to be able to work with multiple networks? Did you have to develop some sort of interfacing capabilities with multiple networks?

Christophe: Yes.

Sramana: Today, you work with all the mobile ad networks I imagine, yes?

Julien: Yes, we pretty much work with all the big ones.

Sramana: They are all capable of doing virtual currency?

Julien: Yes, more or less.

Sramana: That’s because they all have to work with the gaming players and the gaming players all need that functionality?

Julien: I think it’s due to the work we have done, in the sense that we integrated many of them. We grew the business for many of them even when they had no idea what TextMe was. It’s a small world, you get to work with one, and suddenly everyone starts to hear about you.

We have volume and we treat our partners well. That applies to the ad networks and also to the much larger partners we work with now. We worked with Google and Google Glass, Dropbox, and a bunch of other very big names, mostly because we were nimble and able to test things quickly.

Sramana: What’s with Google Glass or what’s with Dropbox and what kind of partnerships are you working on with them?

Julien: There’s a flurry of partners. Those are two examples of companies a lot of people in our space try to work with. On Glass, it’s pretty simple. We pitched to them and said we’d love to be able to give ideas. There were a couple of scenarios in my mind: one was how cool would it be if you could be driving and texting in a safe mode. You put TextMe on Glass and when you receive an SMS, the SMS will be read to you and you respond to that while looking at the road, for example.

That was done very quickly. We presented case studies where someone bumps onto your car and goes away. You can take a picture and if you have TextMe on Glass, SMS the picture to your wife and say, “Can you please go to the police and report that this guy hit me?” or something like that. Then, a week later, we went to Google and we showed them the actual app running on Glass. They liked it. They let us go public with it.

For Dropbox, we’d heard that they are looking for partners on a very specific thing on mobile and we said: “Let’s give it a shot.” It was a few weeks before DBX, the big developer conference, and I managed to get hold of them. We can build very easy ways to send any Dropbox content via SMS. They reviewed the app, they liked the build that we had and then we became a launch partner at DBX for that particular product, which was fun for us. It was good exposure.

This segment is part 6 in the series : Bootstrapping an App to $10 Million in Revenue: Christophe Bach, CEO of TextMe
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