Derek Johnson – CEO of Tatango

Derek Johnson

 Derek Johnson is the founder of Tatango, an SMS marketing
platform. Derek has been featured in leading publications such as BusinessWeek, NW Business Monthly and Wall Street Journal to name a few.

What is the startup story behind Tatango ?

The idea came to me one afternoon when I was having lunch with a friend. She was in a Sorority and they were having trouble contacting all the girls in the house at the same time about meeting times, events and other urgent information. They had tried Facebook, Email and phone trees, but they had all proved inefficient. That’s when it came to me that text messaging would be the perfect way to reach all the members of her house at the same time. Looking for a solution for my friend, I went online and couldn’t find anything that really solved this problem. A few days later, Tatango was born.

What were some of your earlier businesses?

I’ve always been one of those kids who was always coming up with ideas and trying to make a few bucks on the side. I’ve done everything from landscaping, babysitting, car detailing, lemonade stands, apartment locating, retailing, wholesaling ; pretty much if it’s a business, I’ve tried it or at least thought about it at one time or another.

How did your experience with previous businesses, such as the ones mentioned above, help you to develop and manage Tatango ?

Two things I’ve learned from my past businesses that are very important to any entrepreneur are the following: 1) You will fail a lot! I’ve had a few successes in my short career, but I’ve had a whole lot of failures. It sucks to fail, I don’t encourage it, but it happens. As an entrepreneur, you have to just keep going. 2) Hard work is essential. This is a no-brainer for me, all of these businesses were built up with 90% hard work and 10% skill. It takes a lot of hard work to get an idea off the ground and it takes even more hard work to keep it off the ground.

Why did Tatango decide to appeal to a niche rather than a broad audience?

Look it’s very simple, people come to our website for their text messaging needs. We set out with the goal to be the best at one thing, and that’s it. I think of it almost as a marketing strategy. Your company should be the best at one thing and when your customers tell their friends about your product, they shouldn’t have a problem explaining what you do. By doing one thing, and doing it the best, our customers and the people our customers are speaking to are never confused.

Customer satisfaction is key to the success of a business such as Tatango. How do you keep Tatango customers satisfied ?

I think it’s the key to success for any business. It’s a very simple formula to keep your customers happy. Treat your customers better than the way you would like to be treated. You do this and you will never fail. To execute on this, we have both phone and email support and engage our customers through social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Social networks have been a catalyst to our growth as it’s allowed us to humanize our website, allowing customers to see that we are real people behind the code. Very important in my opinion.

Check out Derek’s blog, where he offers advice to fellow young entrepreneurs.

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