Interview with Shane Neman (Ez Texting)
Ez Texting helps businesses around the world build affordable SMS Marketing campaigns.
I interviewed Shane Neman, Ez Texting CEO to find out more. This interview is the ninety fifth in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Shane for the interview!
How would you describe Ez Texting in under 50 words?
Ez Texting is a simple, affordable software platform for businesses to run SMS text marketing campaigns. SMS is fast and direct, which is great for offering specials and increasing customer loyalty.
What’s your background? How and when did you get involved with Ez Texting?
I grew up in New York and studied Computer Science at NYU. Ten years ago I founded JoonBug.com, which was one of the earliest digital event marketing platforms. We built up an email list that at its peak had over a half million young, urban professionals across the US.
In 2005, when text messaging really started to take off, we went looking for someone who could set us up with a text messaging service. We searched but couldn’t find an out-of-the-box solution, so we built it ourselves. To offset the cost of building it we offered it some of our own customers. It took off, and soon people were seeking us out, trying to sign up for the service. Ez Texting grew out of that into its own company providing a web-based text messaging platform used by many different types of businesses.
Who uses Ez Texting?
We have over 50,000 registered users. Primarily we serve small and medium sized businesses, but we also have thousands of religious groups and non-profits, as well as many Fortune 500 ‘enterprise’ type clients. Also, we have a full-featured API that is used by hundreds of developers to add SMS capabilities to their applications.
What technologies have been used to build Ez Texting?
As we’ve grown and scaled our tech has evolved. Our web app is built in PHP/Zend Framework and some Python as well. For databases we use both PostgreSQL and recently MongoDB. To run everything we use a combination of dedicated and cloud servers. Using newer technologies like MongoDB, Gearman and ‘cloud’ services has allowed us to scale with our customers.
What do you wish you’d have known 6 years ago that you know now?
Today we look at the large ESPs like Constant Contact and MailChimp as the model for how to serve small businesses. If we had taken our cues from them six years ago we might have avoided some early growing pains – but it’s not the worst thing in the world to learn what works for yourself, and I have no regrets.
Where do you see Ez Texting in 6 years time?
I see Ez Texting as the Constant Contact of SMS Marketing Services. There are smaller ESPs but Constant Contact, at 500,000 customers, has the biggest share of that industry and I see Ez Texting with a similar position among our peers. We were among the first-to-market, we have a powerful yet easy-to-use platform, and we expect to continue to bring SMS Marketing to more and more businesses every day.
Has Ez Texting got the feedback and growth expected since launch?
Definitely. The product has grown and evolved a lot in the past six years. As I mentioned above, we went out and built this to suit our own needs. When we decided to open it up as a product for other people to use we needed to grow the platform considerably, which we have done and continue to do. While we continue to quickly grow our customer base, it’s still astonishing to me that we went from a single customer to where we are today.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
As soon as I wake up I am checking my BlackBerry. We have a small team that supports tens of thousands of customers, so every day is extremely busy. There’s never any downtime. The last thing I do before I go to bed is answer more emails.
Who would you say is your biggest competitor?
Although we have been around for six years now, the mobile SMS industry is still young and the space is growing so much that any other companies entering the space serve to grow it. I don’t think that we are at the point where customers are being cannibalized by competitors – there are 30 Million SMBs in the US and the whole industry is not even close to scratching 1% of that. We welcome new SMS companies; they grow the overall industry, and they push us to constantly improve our product.
What is the biggest hurdle you, personally, have faced or are still facing?
Growing. I’ve had to figure out how to grow our product, grow our team, and grow our customers – and find the right balance.
With your experience in building from the ground up, two successful businesses, Ez Texting and JoonBug Productions, what one piece of advice would you give to startup founders?
When I founded JoonBug.com, nobody did event marketing over email and the web. Nobody thought it would work, but JoonBug helped push that industry forward. That is really fundamental to how I approach a potential business – find the shortcomings in an industry, find a niche to attack those shortcomings, and grow from that position.
Also, if you’re already running a business and you need something that doesn’t exist, or doesn’t exist the way you need it, sometimes you really should go build it yourself. That’s what happened with our text messaging platform at JoonBug and it grew into what Ez Texting is today.
If you start a business you will, inevitably, reach a moment when things look impossibly bleak. It always happens, at the beginning, in the middle, and down the road. Trouble never goes away forever. Holding yourself as well as everything else together when it looks like things just won’t work is the difference between failing and succeeding.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
I feel like we’re at an inflection point for SMS Marketing among SMBs, similar to where Email Marketing was about five years ago. SMBs already have websites, email marketing lists, a social presence; now they are recognizing that text messaging is another essential tool in their marketing arsenal.
Who is the one person you text the most?
That’s a tie – my wife, my mother, and our lead Ez Texting Community Manager.
Can you convince the reader to start using Ez Texting in under 50 words?
Over 96 percent of text messages are read because they’re short, direct, timely and every phone receives them. As long as you respect the personal nature of the message, and get your customer’s permission to text them, SMS is the most cost effective way to connect with your customers.
Finished reading? Check out Ez Texting!