Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Doron Ostrin, co-founder of URGE.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
URGE lets customers text the businesses they love; considering you can text your friends and family, the next logical step is texting a business. Customers can ask queries, place orders, pay for orders or items, book appointments and make reservations – at any time.
URGE enables businesses to have a closer, more engaged relationship with their customers and offer them a more personalised experience. Customers can use URGE whenever they would have telephoned a business. When a business receives a text through URGE, it almost sounds like a telephone, so businesses never miss it.
The URGE directory lists every business using the platform. It’s like the yellow pages of this century: users search a list of businesses to find the one that they want to text.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
Firstly, we work closely with our business partners to encourage their customers to download URGE. This helps keep our cost per activation relatively low as we do not have to pay to acquire end users of the app.
We have also raised a small seed round from a select group of investors to help open doors in their respective industries. This has been integral to growing the business. Paul Greenberg, founder of DealsDirect and Harold Neumann, founder of major grocery retailer GoLo, assist us with introductions in the retail space. A third and prominent investor from the hospitality industry in the USA has close ties to cafes, restaurants and hotel chains in North America — something we hope to be able to leverage soon!
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?
Finding motivated people to join our sales team! We provide incredible service to our business partners and we always need friendly, relatable individuals to really build long term relationships. We look for salespeople who can both onboard a new URGE business customer and also build a lasting, strong relationship with that customer. At the moment, we are very lucky to have our current team, but we don’t want to get complacent. In order to maintain our existing growth momentum, we are always on the lookout for more bright and outgoing staff.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
We are motivated by one core, driving factor: our app. Everything that we do needs to be understood by every age group, even the elderly. URGE is all about simplicity and I think that our competitors are often focused on the latest feature or sexy addition to their app. This constant change will almost always leads to confusion for the customer.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
It is a very recent addition but I don’t remember what it was like running a business before Slack. Messaging is by far the most effective form of communication.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
Ignore the noise around you and follow your gut. Everyone has their opinion but no one knows your business better than you.
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