Tuesday, May 10, 2022

University of Iowa graduate Sam Schrup is a successful businessman taking his commerce platform TextRetailer to the next level.

The quest to strengthen his business received a boost in early May when he was accepted into TinySeed, a year-long Minnesota-based accelerator program. The milestone includes an investment of $150,000 that can be used for marketing and expanding his team. But for Schrup, the exposure to mentors is the biggest reward.

“Every other week we are connected with a new mentor who is talking on topics that are specifically related to building software, different tactics, and challenges that go into it,” Schrup said. “The program started May 1, and I already have tons of ideas on how to change and improve the business. It is that mentor network that is going to be the most valuable component.”

Schrup came to the University of Iowa after graduating from Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Xavier High School in 2001. He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 2006 and has been in Iowa City since. While pursuing an entrepreneurial certificate as an undergraduate student, Schrup created a business plan for a company he co-founded with his mother called Discerning Eye, an optical retail store that still operates on Washington Street in Iowa City.

“That kind of set me up for my entrepreneurial journey,” Schrup said. “I used that information to write a business plan throughout all the certificate courses. We walked into the bank with that same business plan and the next thing you know, we were funded.”   

In 2019, Schrup founded a text messaging software company called Textiful, which is still in business. He remained in the text retailer space in November 2020 when he began building TextRetailer, an attempt at bringing e-commerce to text messaging. The platform has 100% opt-in from consumers who receive offers for products ranging from wine to cosmetics to needle point. Nearly 98% of the text messages sent via TextRetailer are opened by the consumer.

“It’s a way for the merchants to expose the customers to new products,” Schrup said. “For consumers, it’s as simple as receiving a text — and if it is something you like — you reply yes or with a quantity. If you ignore the opportunity, a new product will be sent to you the next week.”

Schrup wears a lot of hats with TextRetailer. He is the technical founder who wrote all the code, built the platform, and does all the marketing. That’s why, as somewhat of a one-man band, he looks forward to guidance from others who are in the software as a service space.  

Schrup’s goal for TextRetailer is to build a core team of 5-25 employees with an eye on having a successful, yet manageable company.

“It is not the goal to grow as big and fast as possible,” Schrup said. “There is a way to run a software company that is profitable and not burning cash like it is going out of style. That provides a quality product to your customers at a fair price. Coming from the retail world always has clicked with me.”

Schrup said the opportunity with TinySeed will help grow his business slowly, but sustainably, with built-in work-life balance.   

“We’re not expected to work 80 hours a week and we are not expected to get to $100 million evaluation,” Schrup said. “That’s OK, and to be highly-successful while still growing is appealing.”

For more information on TextRetailer, click HERE.

For more information on TinySeed, click HERE.