Derek Johnson CEO of TatangoWho doesn’t love a great story? Especially one about an young entrepreneur. The story of Derek Johnson and SMS marketing Tantango is becoming my favorite young entrepreneur story to tell. I am delighted to share with your Derek’s own insights into the world of being an entrepreneur, bringing an idea to life and creating a successful business. Being in Bellingham means as a normal Seattle networker you might not have had the chance to meet Derek yet. He is friendly, outgoing and full of energy. I admire Derek not only for what he has been able to accomplish, yet his dedication to excellent communication. He also has a natural entrepreneurial spirit, creating jobs for himself and others since he was a teenager.

Derek Johnson CEO of Tatango“All people want is a reliable way to communicate to their group members or customers. That’s what Tatango does and continues to do…” – Derek

He is one of the NW best leading a revolution of being open, and accessible. He is encouraging and answers questions of aspiring entrepreneurs. Derek has made his own accessibility a priority and is incredibly generous answering emails, Facebook messages, tweets and any other question that comes his way.

I was amazed to see you listed your personal phone number on the website. Secondly, I was surprised when you personally answered when I called. I don’t think I have ever experienced that before. So I have to admit my first impression with your company was ‘wow.’” –

Connect with Derek!

I’m easily one of the most accessible CEO’s and I love to connect with new people.

If you want to reach me, feel free to call/text me on my mobile phone @ 206.334.4012

Twitter Icon @thederekjohnson | | | Email icon Contact

A bright business ideaFrom Idea to a Business

1. Start Small – Start small and you will be able to quickly see if you have something interesting before you look to expand.

2. Don’t Re-Invent The Wheel – No matter what problem you are experiencing or challenge you have in front of you, you aren’t the first person to ever go through it. Seek out advice or guidance from someone that has gone through the same thing you are going through, this will save you from making a lot of costly mistakes in the future.

3. Work your ass off – I’m serious, I don’t think there are bad ideas, I think there are only lazy entrepreneurs. Any entrepreneur that works his ass off can change a bad idea into a good one with a lot of hard-work.

SMS Marketing Win = Win for Businesses & Consumers

Text messaging with a phone

It’s a two way street, businesses use Tatango to send text message coupons, discounts, event reminders, etc. to the consumers that opt-in to receive them from the businesses. It’s a win-win situation for both the business and consumer.

Did you know that only 23 percent of Americans check social networks like Facebook on their phones, and even less than that 10 percent check micro-blogging sites like Twitter on their phones? You can compare that to the 72 percent of people who actively text message on their mobile phones.” –  Derek interviewed on Marketing by Deepak

Even for Business, it Takes a Village

If I had to list everyone that played a role in getting Tatango to where it is now, it would seriously take me a few days. I think that’s a lesson though for any entrepreneur is that you aren’t building a company alone, there are so many people out there that are willing to help and will add tremendous value, you just have to go out and find them. I see too many entrepreneurs think that they are going at building their business alone, those are the ones that usually fail.

Remote Teams Productive with Collaboration Tools

Reducing costs has been the biggest benefit of having a remote team, we’ve shaved off about 14-17% off our monthly burn by getting rid of our office and going virtual. The hardest part is still having that collaborative space to come up with new ideas and work through existing problems. To overcome this, we use Skype, BaseCamp, GoToMeeting and a few other tools.

Personal Branding Means You are Doing Business with a Person

If my promoting myself didn’t bring in extra business for Tatango, I wouldn’t do it. With the speaking events, conferences and interviews I do, the amount of new business we’ve been able to acquire has been staggering. Also, I think in the internet space, it’s always good to have a face behind a company. All of our competitors are an email address and a phone number, that’s all. How can you trust that? I’m a real person, if I was a customer looking for text message marketing, I would want to do business with a person, not a phone number or email address. It’s that simple.

Who is Derek Johnson Offline?

I’m always working, so there really isn’t a Derek offline or away from Tatango. I believe in giving 100% to whatever I do, which doesn’t leave room for anything else and I’m fine with that at this stage in my life. I started kicking into high gear working 15-17 hour days, 7 days a week the minute I received our first investment in Tatango. Taking other people’s money completely changed the game.

Find Your Own Inspiration

I’ve been told I have a condition called Hypomania, a genetically based form of mild mania, which endows people with energy, creativity, enthusiasm, and a propensity for taking risks. I’m ok with this, as these are the keys to being a great entrepreneur. I think true entrepreneurs are born with this inspiration, you can’t learn it in school, absorb it, etc. it’s just who you are. It doesn’t go away either, which made it extremely hard for me in structured setting like university and eventually lead to me dropping out to pursue the entrepreneurial lifestyle.

Graduation CapSelling Your Brand Beyond a College Degree.

A lot of parents question me about this one. I’ve found a unique way though to get them to see my view on this subject. Ask them what university their kid graduated from and then ask them what type of job their kid has right now. With the unemployment rate so high and recent graduates moving back home at a faster rate than ever, there is a good chance their kid has a university degree and is unemployed. That usually proves my point :)

In my case my business education came from watching and listening to my father and actually doing it. From a very young age I was always selling something or creating businesses here and there, and I have picked up what I my business knowledge along the way.

I have mixed emotions about college. I was actually told by my college counselor that I shouldn’t even apply to the business school because my grades weren’t high enough. On one hand I don’t believe college prepares students enough for making real world business decisions. On the other hand I think college is necessary for building the foundation in which you can build the rest of your knowledge off of. I almost see college as a necessary evil. My teachers are going to love that last quote.”  – Derek being interviewed by

Don’t Let The Haters Get You Down

It feels like there is an abundance of people out there that want to see me fail. Don’t get me wrong, there a bunch of people that want to see me succeed also, but you can’t let the haters get inside your head. That’s the biggest challenge I would say.

Simple Strategy is Successful Strategy

Keeping things simple. There are so many different verticals within mobile that we could have gone, but we’ve continued to stay focused on making Tatango the easiest text message marketing tool on the face of the planet. Nothing else, period.

Staying Informed

I’m reading all of the time, wether it’s on my desktop, laptop, iPhone, I’m always trying to get more information to better gauge where the industry is heading.

Hear Derek Speak

Oh yea, speaking and conferences have been a big part of my schedule over the last year. I’m usually speaking at least once a week at some conference, university, association, etc. The one place you may not see me is at UW, I’m still a little bitter that they denied me to their undergraduate business program. There is actually a fierce discussion on Facebook about whether I should accept their speaking invitations.

Date the CEO of Tatango.

If anyone knows a women that could put up with all that you’ve heard above and is in the 21-30 year old range, have them call me.

Reach out to Derek if you have questions about SMS Marketing, Tatango or are interested in a date. 😉

Connect with Derek!

I’m easily one of the most accessible CEO’s and I love to connect with new people.

If you want to reach me, feel free to call/text me on my mobile phone @ 206.334.4012

Twitter Icon @thederekjohnson | | | Email icon Contact

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About the author

Lyndi Thompson wrote 114 articles on this blog.

Online startup marketing strategy & solutions. Customer focused, high energy, creative & thankful. I love connecting good people to create great communities. New Mom. Fan of chocolate & the smell of horses.