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Iowa City based TextRetailer raises $150K to simplify consumer shopping experience

TextRetailer, an Iowa City based technology firm that created a conversational commerce platform to sell products through text messages recently announced that it has raised $150,000 from the Minneapolis based TinySeed accelerator program.

The funding and TinySeed’s collaborative mentor network will aid TextRetailer in its mission to provide a unique and simplified shopping experience for consumers.

“Shopping behaviors are changing and the pandemic has accelerated that change,” said Sam Schrup, founder of TextRetailer & University of Iowa alumn. “Consumers are seeking convenience. Shopping by text is the ultimate convenience. A curated product offer is sent to your phone from a brand you love. If you like what you see, simply reply “yes” and a few days later it’s on your doorstep. TinySeed will help us provide our text to order technology to more merchants and their customers.”

TextRetailer’s platform securely captures credit card & shipping information before the customer’s first purchase. Merchants send product offers in a text message to their opted-in subscriber list. Recipients can buy the product by replying “yes” or with a quantity. The transaction is processed and the merchant receives the order information so it can be fulfilled. If the customer is not interested in the offer, they simply ignore the text until the next offer is sent.

In addition to being used for sales, TextRetailer can be used as a communication tool between customers & merchants.

“The TextRetailer team has combined two growing trends — online shopping and text messaging,” said Rob Walling, General Partner at TinySeed. “They provide merchants with the tools to create a magical shopping experience and by doing so, increase revenue.”

“I’ve seen a single text message generate over $40,000 in sales within a couple of hours”, said Schrup. “Our top merchants have sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of products. It’s clear that consumers are drawn to the convenience of shopping by text.”

TextRetailer is the third business that Schrup has founded. In 2005, he co-founded an optical boutique located in downtown Iowa City called Discerning Eye with his mother Joni Schrup. He founded Textiful, another text message software company, in 2019.

Iowa City based TextRetailer raises $150K to simplify consumer shopping experience | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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