Elance Blog

Featurephone Users Find a Voice with Elance-Powered TxtRoo

Nowadays, a text message serves as a primary form of communication between family members and friends. But imagine being able to submit reviews for a business or company through a simple text. This was the idea that Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Jesús Salas, Song Zheng and Jesse Clayburgh developed into TxtRoo, a new company formed as part of StartupBus, a competition founded two years ago that gathers entrepreneurs from around the country to build startup companies from scratch. Entrepreneurs have a three-day bus ride heading to the SXSW conference to assemble teams, brainstorm new business concepts and then turn their ideas into reality.

This year Elance sponsored the Silicon Valley bus, providing them with a sendoff breakfast before their journey to Austin as well as access to qualified Elancers and Workrooms that would help them build their startup. One of them ended up being TxtRoo, a SMS platform that enables feature-phone users to connect and interact with local businesses. TxtRoo allows customers to read the recent reviews for a business and leave a review themselves through a text message. Once a customer submits a review, the business owner can then take full advantage of that customer base to reach out and promote deals to specific markets.

Due to its unique functionality, the TxtRoo team did not come up with the idea for the platform until the middle of the first day, meaning they had to work quickly. But on the Elance platform, they had access to web developers, a product designer, an animator, and a researcher to implement their ideas. According to Salas and Clayburgh, the StartupBus experience was incredible and unlike anything else—a combination of “amazing people, resources, and tight deadlines” and “long nights, short naps, [and] intermittent Internet access.”

In founding TxtRoo, the trio was able to leverage their past entrepreneurial experiences. Clayburgh, for example, has already founded several successful businesses while Salas has held a multitude of entrepreneurial positions at some of the top companies in the world. They agreed that, “The technological barriers to entry are definitely lower now than before, which makes entrepreneurship extremely exciting while competitive at the same time.” The increased competition stems from more access to information, which means greater access to resources, especially in terms of time, cost, and investment. Yet with their knowledge and capabilities, they were able to get TxtRoo successfully up and running by the time the bus arrived in Austin.

Most importantly, the TxtRoo team wanted to ensure they utilized their resources in the best and most efficient way possible. They had worked with remote contractors before, but had never achieved the results they wanted. Using Elance for the first time, the team was pleasantly surprised at the high quality work provided by their contractors. But most of all, they came to recognize the high level of flexibility offered by employing contractors that can perform work online.

Upon returning from Texas, the TxtRoo team began working full-time to advance its business and platform and is now reaching out to businesses and establishing a wide range of relationships with collaborative partners. Not only that, but team members Salas, Clayburgh and Zheng are even looking to pursue expansion options overseas. Ultimately, they want their product to “provide high value to both smart and non-smartphone using customers.”

Ultimately, these experienced entrepreneurs were able to take an idea and within three days, turn it into a business. Yet Salas and Clayburgh stress that the most important aspect behind any idea is being able to execute that idea its best and fullest extent—that is one of the primary ways of achieving success, especially as an entrepreneur. And since the startup field will continually change, there is only one thing for an entrepreneur to do: keep “pushing forward and innovating.”

Follow TxtRoo on Twitter, Facebook and at www.txtroo.com.