A Lesson In Bootstrapped Growth From Chattanooga-Based Text Request

It was almost like Chattanooga-based Text Request was born for this moment. 

The eight-year-old SaaS startup helps organizations communicate more efficiently with customers via text messaging campaigns. The idea was certainly scalable back when the startup first got off the ground. But the team has entered “hyper-growth” mode, said CEO Brian Elrod, as companies in over 100 different verticals look to navigate the post-pandemic world. 

“Businesses were looking for new touchless ways to communicate,” he added. That includes options for scheduling and appointment-making, customer service follow-up, and member engagement campaigns.

2020 showcased new use cases for text message campaigns, so the Text Request team got to work and launched both text-to-pay and political campaign-specific options. These were important as companies looked to capture re-occurring revenue and candidates looked for ways to connect with voters under social distancing orders. 

But it was not just COVID-related trends that spurred Text Request’s growth. The platform has tapped into the generational shift around communication. “Millennials have really driven this business,” Elrod told Hypepotamus. “They are the largest consumer base and they are the ones who do all their communication via text. Many don’t even have a voicemail set up.”   




Text Request is far from the only option in the conversational texting space. One of its largest competitors, Seattle-based Zipwhip, raised close to $100 million before being acquired by Twilio in 2021. The software side of Zipwhip’s business was dismantled during that acquisition, and Text Request was selected as a preferred vendor for those 20,000 customers looking for a new messaging SaaS service.

Zipwhip raised close to $100 million before the acquisition. Text Request bootstrapped since the beginning. Elrod said that at the beginning that was out of necessity as an early SaaS startup in Tennessee. “When we started out, we thought because we were a technology company that we need to raise money because that is what everyone celebrated,” he added. “There’s a bit of luck involved, but we’ve worked really hard to build this product. And as the old analogy goes, the harder you work, the luckier you get.”  

The company’s payroll is currently pushing 40 people, according to Elrod. Many are based in Chattanooga, with engineering talent being brought in from around the country.