The Seattle startup offers technology that allows customers of a business to text that business’ landline phone numbers to get the message through.
Seattle-based Zipwhip has raised $9 million from investors to develop software that allows businesses to text customers using a landline phone number.
Zipwhip partners with cellphone carriers to create technology under which a customer can text a business, and the business responds through a web application. The customer could, for example, text a hair salon to set up an appointment, and the salon responds through a website that tracks all text conversations.
One key under this system is that Zipwhip allows businesses to use their existing landline number, to which customers send their text. This feature is made possible through partnerships with major carriers and by using technology to forward texts to the company’s web app.
Many of Zipwhip’s 22,000 customers say they leave the web app open all day, CEO John Lauer said.
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“What a lot of companies say is they consider us the Microsoft Outlook of text messaging,” he said.
Seattle’s Voyager Capital led the most recent funding round, and Microsoft Ventures, GCI and Inteliquent also invested in the company.
“Our view is that an increasing number of millennials — and really everyone — are using texting as the preferred form of communication,” Voyager partner Bill McAleer said.
Zipwhip works with small businesses such as veterinary clinics and dentists, as well as groups within huge organizations, such as Verizon retail stores.
The company started eight years ago (“It’s been an overnight success,” CEO and founder John Lauer jokes) and has raised a total of about $20 million.