Folk Stories

14: Focusing on the Message with John Lauer

April 8th, 2019 (44 minutes)

John Lauer is the CEO of Zipwhip, a Seattle based businesses that enables businesses to text message their customers through software and API solutions. Zipwhip is one of Seattle's fastest growing private companies and was the first business that made it possible for landlines and cellphones to communicate with each other.

Prior to Zipwhip, John was already neck deep in entrepreneurship. John started coming up with business ideas ever since he was thirteen. John started his first company, Rootlevel, at the age of 21 - Rootlevel was a web design firm based in Detroit and had included GM and Ford as their clients. John dropped out of college one semester from finishing his computer science degree because he made a commitment early on to never do something that would require a resume.

In today's episode, we talk about John's storied history and start in entrepreneurship, we talk about the makings of Zipwhip and the state of texting, and we talk about the focus and people that it takes to start a business.


If you contribute to humanity, humanity rewards you back, which gives you more ability to contribute. It sort of pancake layers on top of itself.

– John Lauer


  • how John got started with entrepreneurship
  • dropping out of college and commiting to startups
  • Zipwhip, how it got started and where it is today
  • importance of texting to businesses and consumers
  • closed vs open systems
  • predictions about communication platforms going forward
  • finding the right people to start a company with
  • staying focused and deciding what to focus on
  • ways of recharging


  • inspiration
    • week without at Zipwhip - two weeks without office food, raised $5000 to donate to Mary's place
  • surprising fact
    • walk around with smile on face but there's a great amount of simulation happening inside of what might happen at Zipwhip
  • principle
    • do the right thing
  • closing notes
    • Zipwhip will keep plugging forward and texting is adding huge value to peoples lifes, lots of new releases coming out later this year