Startup involving Whitworth professor launches new app
TextMuse has preloaded content for messaging
Treva LindJuly 16th, 2015
Whitworth University professor Pete Tucker, who co-founded a software development startup a year ago, says its new text messaging app called TextMuse provides smartphone users with automatic content updated daily to share as quick communication with contacts.
Tucker is chief technology officer in Spokane for LA Loosh Industries, a Kirkland, Wash.-based business he started with a longtime friend, Todd Myers, president and CEO. In mid-May, the company published new iOS and Android versions of the free TextMuse app, which has categories of easy-to-click preloaded content ranging from inspirational quotes to news clips.
“TextMuse is really geared toward personal communication,” Tucker says.
He says competitive advantages of LA Loosh’s TextMuse include giving users a fast way to send meaningful texts filled with helpful information or inspiration, and that those messages are sent as part of a regular text messaging system regardless of whether recipients have downloaded TextMuse.
“That’s a difference with TextMuse, because with Facebook Messenger or Snapchat, each party has to have those apps,” Tucker adds. “I use a Windows phone personally, so I can use TextMuse as if I’m using a text messaging system to create the message, and it’s sent as a regular text message to any phone regardless of if it’s an Android or iPhone. It’s just a text message.”
About 350 users have downloaded TextMuse so far, Tucker says. Currently the company doesn’t have an income stream but is focused on growing that base of users as a way to bring in revenue, he adds.
LA Loosh’s plan for future income streams likely will include offering premium options for a fee, he says. Income also is expected to come from partnerships with other companies that would provide payment for content on TextMuse. It now has early-stage partnerships with Food.com, and Platform Purple, as two examples.
“That’s where we’re heading right now,” Tucker says. “We have no income at this time, but the main goal is to build up users. If we build that up, we can bring in the revenue.”
The idea for TextMuse came from thinking about a scenario where someone is standing in line at a grocery store and thinks of someone who could use a message of encouragement. “That could take a fair amount of time, and I just want to send something quickly,” Tucker says.
TextMuse has a number of messages built in, “so you just click on message, then click on send, and there goes the message letting them know I’m thinking about them, and it’s just about three clicks,” he adds. “A simple way to think of it is it’s no more canned than a Hallmark card. You get a card and the person picked it out, so it feels like the person is saying what’s in the card.”
Some of the app’s categories include: Friendship & Love, News, Inspiring Quotes, and Recipes. Tucker says certain selections will remain standard while others among about 15 total will change daily. One recent temporary category had text messages connected to National Chocolate Day, while a future category could feature Take Your Dog to Work Day, as an example.
Using recipes, Tucker says he can quickly send his wife a text for making homemade candy bars. “I see that recipe, hit text it, and then TextMuse lists all my contacts. After I select a contact, it goes straight into the regular messaging system for the person’s phone. If I send this to my brother, he just receives it as a regular text message. He doesn’t have to have TextMuse to read it.”
“Another feature of TextMuse is you can create a group message very easily, and you can save those groups for later,” he says. “It can store up to 15 user messages. If my kids are in another area of house and dinner’s ready, in three taps, a message goes to my kids, ‘It’s dinner time.’”
Tucker, who grew up in Bellevue, is a 1991 Whitworth graduate. He says Todd Myers has an expertise in public relations and pioneered early Internet marketing programs for the Seattle SuperSonics.
“Todd and I have known each other since seventh grade,” he says.
Tucker, 46, has taught math and computer science courses at Whitworth for 12 years. As part of his role with the company, Tucker wrote the iOS version of the app. He also developed and manages the company’s server and database to manage the app. The company earlier this year hired Lauren Pangborn, a spring 2015 Whitworth computer science graduate, to design the user interface for the TextMuse app under a two-month contract.
“In simple terms, she used computers and mocked up what the images would like,” Tucker says. “I took those mockups and wrote the code so it would actually look like what she had developed as images. We started developing the app a year ago, and we weren’t real happy with the original user interface we first came up with, so we hired Lauren last spring to redesign the interface.”
LA Loosh now has seven employees, including the two founders. Myers and one employee work out of Kirkland. The other employees are based in California and were hired because of their background in mobile devices and mobile application, Tucker says.
Currently, TextMuse is the company’s only app.
“Right now, we’re focused on building up TextMuse and future new features,” Tucker says. “As a company, we meet over Skype at least once a week. There’s no office at this point. Everyone works remotely.”
The company has had positive reviews on blog sites, he says.
Tucker adds, “I think compelling reasons the app will grow well include being able to reach out to people easily and quickly. People are so busy now. On top of everything else, I coach my son’s soccer team so to be able to reach out quickly and say, ‘Here is a recipe,’ it just helps me keep in touch with people I need to keep in touch with.”