Marketplace: AtlasRTX sends the right message with new software
Company aims to help businesses engage customers in real time
When Bassam Salem started the software company AtlasRTX as a part-time hobby in January of 2016, his goal was to snag 10 customers and build a viable product within 12 months. If he could do that, he thought, it would be proof the company could succeed.
By the end of the year, though, Salem had come up short, garnering only five clients. Nonetheless, the company showed promise. So rather than fold, Salem doubled down. He shifted his full-time focus to the company and poured his life savings into it.
Within five months, the list of customers grew to 12, and Salem is now hopeful AtlasRTX has a long-term future.
“If you have product-market fit, you’re a business. And we felt as a team that we were really close to product-market fit,” he said of the decision to keep going. “The reason we felt that is we had five clients who loved us and raved about us. So it was really not about the product — it was around, ‘Can we message it properly, package it properly and price it properly so the selling is easy?’”
Bassam, who has worked in software since the 1980s, is enthusiastic about the product because he believes he’s found a unique way for companies to communicate. AtlasRTX’s software allows business to interact in real time with customers or prospective customers via SMS text message using artificial intelligence chatbots (with human assistance).
He said the software is special because it enables businesses to engage customers in a way that is instant and much less painless than the outdated methods most companies use.
“The epiphany that hit me was that, for some reason, businesses are always one generation behind the communication trends of the consumer,” he said. “Consumer-to-consumer communication has moved forward, and we in business have been slow to adapt. Even customer support — it’s going to be an email address or a phone number. Since when do you, outside of work, send an email? And I jokingly say the only people on Earth who answer phone calls are sales agents.”
Salem added that it’s taken AtlasRTX a few tries to get the software right, but the company continues to hone in on a solution that works for all business, ranging from home builders to hotels. One of AtlasRTX’s clients likes the software so much that it’s implemented it in more than 70 branches around the country.
“The very first concept wasn’t exactly where we are now, but we’ve pivoted to get it right,” he said. “As we show it to clients, they say, ‘I don’t like it because of this, but it would be great if you did this and this.’ We go back and change it and show it to someone else, who likes it.”
Salem started the company out of a passion for entrepreneurship. He quit his full-time job in software in 2015, originally intending to make a living as a consultant for other entrepreneurs, which he had done on the side for a few years. He eventually shifted his focus to AtlasRTX, and as the company has grown has gained an even greater appreciation for the struggles business owners go through to make their projects successful.
“In the past, I’d meet an entrepreneur, and they just wouldn’t stop talking about their business,” he said. “I never understood it. Now I’m that. I can’t stop. I sleep thinking about it, I wake up thinking about it, I’m thinking about it in the shower. It is so consuming.”
The hard work is nowhere near finished for Salem. He said the growing company is in the process of hiring more employees, and the work of perfecting the software and increasing the client base continues. But less than a year and a half after he started AtlasRTX, he is delighted with how far the company has come.
“The journey is just beginning, and there are no guarantees,” he said. “But I truly feel like, at this point, given every business instinct I have, we’re past the, ‘Will the company make it or not?’ part. It feels like our range of possibilities is, ‘Are we a small company or are we a big company?’ That’s kind of cool. In 15 months, we’ve gone from nothing to a small company in the worst case. Not a bad outcome.”
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