Derek Johnson founded Tatango in October 2007 along with Matt Pelo. Tatango is a website that allows any group the ability to communicate with their members’ through text messaging. It is the leader in the market and generates revenue through it's subscription model.
The idea came when Derek was speaking to a friend who was having trouble contacting all the members of her sorority to schedule meeting times. When Derek tried to help her find a solution online he found nothing. So he decided to create his own solution!
As a 22 year old trying to get funding was very hard. Banks didn't want to listen and Angels and VC's where put off by the lack of experience Derek had. But we all have to start somewhere, right? Derek started his business with capital he was able to raise through family and friends. Not to long after, as the business grew quicker, Derek was able to gain funding from the Bellingham Angel group who invested $250k.
So did Mr Johnson ever think of giving up when the times got tough? No.
He says, "To be honest, when things get crazy, frustrating, or just near impossible, I never think about throwing in the towel. For me, those are the fun days! When do you get to test your skills and determination more than at those points in your business career? Those are the sort of obstacles that make what I do such a challenge and so rewarding."
These are three pieces of advice that Derek gives to other entrepreneurs:
1) Be Available (to users)
2) Start Small
3) Seek out advice (can save you making costly mistakes in the future)
Matt Pelo left Tatango within a year and Derek now runs the company with the new CTO Adrian Pike.