Featured Startup Pitch: txt is on a mission to make mobile messaging more private and ad free
By Christopher Wright, txt founder and CEO
Elevator Pitch: txt is a mobile messaging communications network that aims to be the first advertisement-free platform for web and iOS. Think of a news feed without any form of product being sold to you through your friends, having your personal information sold or having your conversation monitored just to display an ad. txt provides a secure, ad free and clutter free platform for our users to enjoy features like micro messaging (txt app) and picture messaging (txtpic).
txt provides an alternate mobile messaging communication platform that doesn’t expose its users to annoying, intrusive ads cluttering your page, your friends’ pages, and your news feed. With txt, only information that is relevant to yourself and from people you want to hear from will be shown to you. txt as a service is a fast, free micro messaging platform, as well as picture messaging, that aims to be the first ad free platform anywhere on mobile or via the web. By considering our user base and putting privacy first, people can be comfortable that their conversations are not being monitored in order to serve an advert five minutes later that’s targeted at what they were talking to their friend about.
User conversations are not tracked, are not hijacked to steer the conversation about a product or brand, and user information including conversations and pictures are not sold to the highest bidder—unlike many apps today.
The txt app sends small micro messages to anyone using a txt ‘@username,’ just mention the user’s @username in your message or multiple @usernames for group messages, and it will be sent directly to that user or users. All messages are stored and displayed in your inbox, and you can pick a custom username and be found via the app and web through txtdotme.com/username, which is great and easy for connecting people. txt profiles are unique, customizable and accessible through the app and web complete with a display picture, so your friends can find you.
When you sign up you get a cool profile with a customized ‘@username’ handle. If you’re tired by being followed around the Internet by companies buying and selling your information, sign up today and download the apps, available on iOS and web.
txt was launched August, 2013. I felt disenfranchised by the current approach toward handling user data, especially in light of the recent media coverage on how companies exploit their user data by selling any and all user information to the highest bidder. The current model of pushing as many ads as possible in front of the user made me think, “why not make an app that stays ad free and actually allows the user to communicate with friends instead of being distracted or over exposed to unwanted ads?” From there, it was clear that there is a market for free applications that deliver a privacy-first, secure, and ad free communication platform. I think this niche market can grow—to what scale I’m not sure—but I think it has a future that can maybe change companies’ thinking when handling user data.
We are currently focusing on implementing a wide range of marketing methods through different media channels, including a strong focus on web, SEO, retargeting, call-to-action, blogs, forums, social media, app discovery, and press—both traditional and new. Different forms of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, to name a few, provide excellent feedback regarding how people discover apps—especially with there being so many. So, it’s always useful to continue to use new platforms that provide a wider audience.
As txt is a communications platform, and being that we are targeting people who are social, it’s in their nature to share, inform, and invite their friends, so friend recommendations is something that can be used to our advantage. However, the best way to generate new users through recommendations is having a strong and functional product.
Aside from the techniques outlined above, we feel that more can always be done, so we strive for more attention and we are exploring further opportunities to reach a wider audience.
The mobile messaging market is worth 200 billion dollars and rising above 300 billion by 2016. Mobile messaging is expected to surpass two billion users by 2016. MMS messages exceeded two trillion last year. MMS users will be over 1.3 billion by 2016.
Competitors include WhatsApp, MessageMe, LINE, Kakao Talk and many enterprise chat apps. Messaging apps are all doing something similar, but the current state of the market place is just beginning—so there’s a lot of opportunity before the market begins to mature and consolidate.
How We Differentiate From the Competition
With social media becoming a cesspool of ad-fuelled irritants and only going to get worse, there is an opportunity to deliver what many people desire, and that is to treat the user, their data, and their privacy with respect. As txt will not participate in selling user data, including user conversations, to the highest bidder, it will provide a level of security and comfort to our user base that I think there will be a huge interest in and demand for.
With apps, the main source of revenue is ads—many annoying, intrusive, and distracting. Apps like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram all seem to be pivoting toward the same direction—some faster than others—and it is making ads appear in your news feed or in pictures. If I’m using Facebook, I want to know what my friends are up to—not wanting to know about some product; with Twitter, I don’t want to see something that I have no interest in as my feed gets hijacked every day now by a television show sponsor. With apps like Snapchat, it’s only a matter of time before your see Groupon-like daily deal offers that expire in the next 10 minutes. Instagram is currently using photos that are 100 percent ads in your feed, and it’s only a matter of time before the percentage becomes more skewed toward advertising instead of more pictures of your friends; again don’t want to see pictures of Coca-Cola next to my friends’ pictures.
I feel a clean, clutter-free and ad free platform is something that will differentiate us in the marketplace.
In the mobile messaging space, there is a lot of opportunity. Many competitors are offering the same types of products like virtual goods, stickers or in-app purchases. Products like this only have a limited audience but can produce some significant revenue. LINE is doing especially well with stickers and in-app payments, but I feel that is indicative of Japanese culture as opposed to peoples’ enthusiasm toward stickers and virtual goods globally. The market for stickers may be capped at around 10 percent of a company’s user base. Products like this will be made available in txt because it’s a revenue stream that would produce a reasonable increased return on R&D investment.
With our core mission to protect user data, selling user data is out, as well as monitoring peoples’ conversations, but our current business plan has over 12 products, some of which will be integrated into our service and be packaged for our user base to consume. In addition, many more products will be made specifically for enterprise customers.
Seed fund of $100,000 to $300,000. To recruit five iOS developers, including one senior manager—experience not essential, just need to be a really good programmer, be interested in working well outside the box on things that may not have been encountered before. Seed financing will allow continued product development, enhance our marketing strategy and provide a better foundation for partnership exploration.
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Founder: Christopher Wright
Year Founded: 2013