Sydney start-up URGE has leveraged what seems to be a blindingly obvious idea and turned it into a rapidly growing and scalable business.
Their app literally allows customers to text message companies — very simple. Yet: it’s already being used by over 300 businesses, including Toy Mate with eight Sydney stores, Chargrill Charles with nine stores, and high-end local hair and beauty salons Joh Bailey.
It’s been just eight months and they have already secured backing from retail heavy-weights Paul Greenberg (founder of DealsDirect) and Harold Neumann (founder of discount supermarket store GoLo) and launched a $5 million cap raise.
URGE’s success proves that sometimes even the most obvious ideas are the strongest.
What is the story behind URGE?
The three co-founders, Doron Ostrin, Dean Steingold and Daniel Reyes thought of the idea after retailer clients at Productify, their other business, said that they were struggling to communicate with, and retain, customers.
Initially put off by how obvious it was, the founders sidelined the idea. But they eventually came back to it and after further research, they found that the most similar offering in the market was Livechat, chatbots or apps for ordering food or coffee ahead of time.
That was enough for them to jump into the business, all guns blazing. They were so convinced that the idea was crash hot that they sunk a large portion of the seven figure revenue from Productify into URGE to get it off the ground.
They knew they were onto a winning idea because they’re solving a growing problem: in this case, the issue of how businesses can keep fickle and impatient consumers engaged with their offering or service.
Dean and Doron met when their girlfriends went out to dinner and dragged them along. By the end of the night, they were close friends and had already decided to launch Productify. Both had backgrounds in business prior to launching their first start-up.
Using the experience of the core Productify team and a significant amount of Productify’s profits to grow URGE from the ground up, Dean, Doron and Daniel join a number of successful entrepreneurs who are using the lessons and resources from their first startup to launch bigger, better projects.
Why is this business booming?
The logic is simple: around 40 per cent of millennials interact more with their smartphones than with their family and friends. Texting has overtaken calling as a norm and the logical next step is for consumers to also be able to text their favourite business.
As consumers become accustomed to the convenience of shopping with the click of a finger, smaller brick and mortar businesses have to lift their technological game to ensure that they can acquire and retain customers at the same rate of the e-commerce giants.
Combined with the founders’ hypothesis that consumers are innately loyal to their local and actually enjoy outings to storefronts, they launched URGE with the intent of giving consumers a more convenient and personal means of engaging with their local businesses. For businesses, URGE enables them to have a more engaged, personalised relationship with their customers.
“URGE is all about making businesses and retailers as accessible as possible to consumers. When you see a generation that’s really switched on with tech and always on their smartphones, constantly messaging friends and family, it just makes sense for them to also be able to message a business,” says Dean Steingold.
“It was common sense for us, we knew that a major pain point for businesses was the phone barrier, in other words, people would just avoid a business rather than have to call them and wait on hold, or be shafted from department to department, so we decided to solve it by developing an all-rounder platform for consumers to get in touch with their favourite stores.
“Once we started getting that traction and actually saw real heroes of the retail space, guys like Harold Neumann and Paul Greenberg, interested in the business, we knew that we had to take it up a notch. We launched URGEPay which has been a huge success, now people can order their coffee or lunch and pay for it all in one go and we’re in discussions with major retailers around the country.”
Urge is now in advanced discussions with major retailers, the big banks and a leading national freight company to white-label their product.
For kicks, the three co-founders are also behind two other really popular websites: sobadsogood.com – the best of pop culture from around the web which racks up 1mil views a month – and nothingcooler.com – the best videos from around the web, which racks up 500,000 per month.