Y Combinator and Start Fund-backed startup SendHub, which offers a simple SMS solution for businesses, is killing it…and it never “officially” launched. Instead, the company soft-launched a couple of months ago with zero fanfare, and already has several hundred customers, 40% of which are active monthly users, sending some 30,000 SMS text messages per month.
Although generating revenue through its premium services for businesses, SendHub is also making teachers’ lives easier, by providing them with free tools to communicate with students and parents via SMS.
The big draw for SendHub has nothing to do with buzzwords (aren’t you sick of local, social, photo-sharing apps, anyway?), and everything to do with building something people actually need: an affordable, easy-to-use alternative to today’s business-focused messaging platforms. In January, the startup grew its user base by 3x, and so far this month, it’s grown another 45%.
Built on top of Twilio’s scalable voice platform, SendHub lets businesses communicate with their customers via text messages sent via the web interface or from any mobile phone. To begin receiving these messages, customers text to join using a keyword the business chooses.
When signing up for an account, SendHub users are given a ten-digit number, so the messages they send look as if they’re local, even if they’re not. This could be helpful for larger corporations who want to manage the messaging campaigns for their local outlets, for example, or even for politicians, who want to appear as if they’re doing grassroots campaigning from right down the street.
The texts themselves include a link to a mobile-optimized website, where the recipients can rate the message by voting it up or down or blocking the sender entirely. These analytics help the business (or politician, or teacher, or non-profit, etc.) determine which of their SMS efforts are better received than others. In a couple of weeks, the analytics program will be upgraded to also include stats on delivery, click-throughs, blocks, and more. Around the same time, the mobile-optimized website will include social sharing buttons, so a business can spread its message even further through the recipients’ circle of friends.
Oh, and the the best part? SendHub is a freemium service.
The original idea for the company was to build a communication system for co-founder Garrett Johnson’s nephew’s school in Tampa, Florida. The school is using it now, as are hundreds of other businesses and organizations, including Florida State University’s athletics program, which is the school Johnson attended for his undergrad degree prior to Oxford. There he met co-founder John Fallone, also now an FSU grad. The third co-founder, Ash Rust, met Johnson while at Oxford, and worked as the Director of Ranking at Klout before joining SendHub.
For teachers, the free level of the service should always meet their needs, as it provides access to 150 contacts (3 groups of 50) and is capped at 1,000 messages per month. Paid levels providing unlimited messaging are available for $10, $50, and $150 per month, with access to 1,000 contacts, 100,000 contacts, or 250,000 contacts, respectively.
Solving a real-world business need, while helping teachers, too – what’s better than that?
Explains Johnson, “It’s really tough to build a platform specifically for education, because the question becomes ‘how do you make it sustainable?'”
“But the same pain point teachers have, small businesses have, churches have, non-profits have…If we can solve a general pain point, it will benefit teachers, and disproportionally benefit low-income, minority communities for whom access to computers is limited. But they all have cellphones and everyone can get a text message.”