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Developing a consumer-to-business messaging service


TalkTo was a popular digital messaging service that let consumers text any business — such as a local grocery store or government office — using their mobile or desktop device, and receive a response within minutes.

A person texting with a shopekeeper.

The challenge

People find traditional ways of communicating with businesses (such as via telephone) annoying and inefficient.

The solution

Given the rise and convenience of text messaging, Sean Johnson and the TalkTo team created web and native mobile versions of an application that lets consumers text any business at all, even those that have never heard of TalkTo, and receive a response within five minutes. Speed and reliability were critical aspects of the user experience so Erlang, which is known for its ability to support massively scalable soft real-time systems with requirements on high availability, was chosen as the backend.

The results

  • TechCrunch Disrupt runner-up
  • Averaged business-to-consumer text response time of five minutes
  • Awarded $250K research grant from DARPA
  • Raised $3M in a Series A round
  • Acquired by Path