While the rest of us have been busy texting for fun and work, Phil Haase has been thinking of a way to monetize it.
“Everybody texts so much,” Haase says.
“My kids will be sitting on the same couch watching TV, texting each other,” he says. “I just kept thinking there has to be a way to tap into that texting for business purposes of some sort.”
This week, he’s started Just Text It! to do just that.
Haase, who has been in media and sales for radio, TV and print for most of his career, says his service is a mobile version of the “good old Yellow Pages days.”
“It serves as an area-wide directory and search tool that gives you information for all the businesses in the 316 area code by text message,” he says. “It’s instant.”
A customer can send a text to 31611. In the message area of the text, he then types a category of what he’d like to search.
“That’s how it works for over 400 categories,” Haase says.
That could be attorneys, coffee shops, Mexican restaurants or “pretty much anything you can think of that you might be looking for.”
“Every business is listed in a certain category,” Haase says. “It is all hyper-local.”
Any business that wants a listing can have one for free. A business featured in a red box is one that is a courtesy listing with basic information such as an address, phone number and website.
Businesses can pay for more interactive listings.
“Basically, they can be customized,” Haase says. “They can be whatever they want.”
Other than the paid listings, Haase says there are no ads with Just Text It.
“There’s no third-party ads. There’s no pop-up ads. There’s no data tracking or profiling.”
Nor do customers have to log in or give a password. Haase says this is part of the appeal for him.
“I guess the biggest thing is I get frustrated with the normal search engines.”
He says he doesn’t like advertising and having to sometimes log in.
“I got tired of having to jump through a bunch of hoops.”
He says he’s had the Just Text It! idea for a couple of years. He says an investment from Jeff Turner, former Spirit AeroSystems CEO, helped him move forward.
Turner couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Haase has six employees and is looking to grow.
“It’s just getting started,” he says. “Wichita is our first market that we’re launching in.”
Hutchinson is next.
Haase also is working with a partner in Ponca City, Okla., to start the service there.
“We would like to … duplicate this nationwide.”
Haase says he may do license agreements or partner with media outlets in some markets.
For more information, click the “main menu” of Just Text It! and see “about” for two videos on the service.
“I just thought there’s just got to be a way to put all this together and give people what they want when they want it,” Haase says. “I think we found it.”