Text Engine is a text message search engine. Think "Google with text messages." It enables you to access information from the Web using only text messages. It works without using up data and even without wifi access.
That's a hard one because there are a lot of hard parts to building a business, haha!
One is accepting that you have to try 100 things just to find the two that will work. Another is that running a startup is one of the most bipolar activities you can do! On Monday you're riding high off a super accomplishment and by Tuesday night you're ready to ball up under the covers in the fetal position. On Wednesday you land that customer you've been tracking for weeks, only to find out on Thursday he cancels his service because he thinks your product sucks. Running a startup definitely can be an emotional roller coaster.
And of course, one of the biggest challenges hearkens back to that old, childhood rhyme: You're always trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents. You never have enough resources to do it the way you really want to do it. So, you have to find ways to really maximize scarce and limited resources.
Well the hard work has paid off- since we have started working together just five months ago, Text Engine's revenues have quintupled. What is the source of your motivation?
One word: freedom. The ability to work on what I want, on what's really important to me - and to make a living doing it. My ultimate goal has for a long time been self-employment. That's what motivates me the most.
Entrepreneurs are leaders of change. Change starts with vision. What is your long-term vision?
The mission of Text Engine has always been to connect the offline world to the Internet via text messages. Our vision is to bring our technology to the populations in the US and around the world who need it the most. We have users all over the world, including Botswana, Nigeria, Uganda, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Australia, the Netherlands, Norway, and the US.
You have a lot of new developments. Share with us one of the most exciting things going on in your business.
I'm excited about the fact that we've been able to build a custom version of Text Engine that can serve the needs of Syrian refugees migrating into Turkey. Because of this, we've garnered some interest from TechFugees Paris and the International Rescue Committee, two global refugee support organizations. So this is very exciting.
How has working with SH International helped Text Engine?
As a founder, entrenched in the day-to-day operations of a startup, there are just things you can't see. We all have blindspots. SH International has helped us see beyond those blind spots that may have been holding us back from sustainability, quality and growth.
Moreover, SH International has added tremendous credibility with investors and members of the startup community. For example, we were accepted into the prestigious ReSET Social Impact Accelator this year, and I'm certain being able to say that SH International was our advisor helped to get us accepted into the program.
But even more, there is enormous psychological value in having a business advisor. As an entrepreneur, you're going to go through low points, dark moments where you just don't know if you can go on. Having someone in your corner, to encourage and motivate you, can mean the difference between growth and closing up shop.
I am glad that working together has been so fruitful. I consider an honor to work so closely with such a high potential, high impact company in its early stages.
Other entrepreneurs have a lot that they can learn from you. Another of your major accomplishments is that Text Engine got VC funding in the past six months. What are some words of advice that you have for young entrepreneurs trying to follow in your footsteps?
What I would say is: If you want to get funded, you can get funded. There's no secret magic to it; it simply takes knocking on every VC or angel door you can find until you find someone who will take you seriously. Be prepared for a lot of "nos", for a lot of revising of your pitch deck or business plan. But there is an investor out there for every type of business. I don't subscribe to this idea that "some businesses aren't fundable".
I think before you go out to raise funds, you need to really get clear one one thing: What type of enterprise are you really? Are you primarily a social enterprise (maybe with some commercial elements)? Or are you primarily a commercial enterprise (maybe with some social elements)? The reason it's important to know who you are and what you're trying to achieve is because, once you take funding from an investor, you may feel pressure to turn your business into something that is just not workable for it or for you in the long run. You need to know who you are and what you're about, so that you can communicate that clearly to a potential investor. This way, you can ensure there is a proper fit between your aims as founder and the investor's aims as strategic partner.
Thank you, Eric, for sharing with our readers more about your entrepreneurial journey at Text Engine!
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