Derek Johnson is the 25-year-old CEO of SMS marketing startup Tatango.com.
A dropout of the University of Houston Entrepreneurial program, Derek has raised half a million dollars in investments for the company from private investors and Angels. Tatango.com has done over 50 million messages since its launch, servicing all types of groups such as college organizations, churches, athletic teams, political campaigns and non-profit groups and businesses.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m focused 110 percent on building the most amazing SMS marketing tool that is both easy to use and extremely effective. Don’t get me wrong, the website right now is amazing, but it still needs a lot of work.
3 Trends that excite you?
Mobile: Mobile is hot right now, and that’s pretty obvious for anyone to see. You think it’s hot right now though, you just wait. It’s only getting started.
Text Messaging: This one is obvious for me. Text messaging is going to be the new e-mail marketing, but better! When you have a statistic that 90 percent of people open a text message within four minutes of receiving it, how can you ignore this communication channel for marketing?
Over-Sharing: You think you share a lot of your life on the Internet right now, but you just wait. Anything that was private is now public, and it’s going to get crazier. Be ready, because there is going to be nowhere to hide.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I just do it. (I credit Nike for this.) Too many wannabe entrepreneurs will talk about their idea, blog about it, post it to Facebook/Twitter, write a business plan, etc., but not enough of them actually take the first step and just do it. Start making something, and create something that wasn’t there before. There are no special tools you need, you just need to take that leap. Just do it.
What is one mistake you’ve made that our readers can learn from?
One mistake? I make mistakes every day, all the time. I think the biggest mistake is not documenting and recording your mistakes. We are always reviewing what worked and what didn’t work, making sure that we have this information for future projects, tasks, etc. You would be amazed how quickly you forget.
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
I’ve read “The 4-Hour Workweek” multiple times, learning different things at each pass. Whether you are looking to decrease the amount of work you need to do, or increase your efficiency, allowing you to do more work in a day’s time, this book is a step-by-step guide. I would recommend this book to any entrepreneur. The sooner you read it, the better off you will be.
Basecamp — When Tatango.com got rid of it’s physical office and went completely virtual, we needed a tool that could manage all of the multiple projects, ideas and thoughts swirling around the company. Our answer was Basecamp. I seriously spend the majority of my day on Basecamp, and I love it!
What is one idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
There are so many landlords out there, myself being one of them. There needs to be an online tool for landlords to collect rent, receive work orders, post messages, review contracts, etc. If anyone takes this idea, all I want in return is 30 percent equity.
What’s the most import thing in your business?
Profit. There are way too many Internet entrepreneurs with their heads stuck in their ass thinking that building a company doesn’t have anything to do with making a profit. They are wrong. An Internet businesses is no different than a business down the street. They both have to make profit to survive.
I’ve heard you are a workaholic. How are you able to put in 15-hour days, 7 days a week, 365 days a year?
That’s simple. I love what I’m working on, and I’m passionate about it. Most people aren’t passionate about their job, and that’s why they are always waiting for the clock to strike five so they can leave. I’m the opposite because I’m passionate about what I’m doing. I love going to work and can’t stand when I have to leave. When you have this, hours spent working don’t feel like hours spent working.
E-mail: [email protected]
Text Message: 206.334.4012
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.