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Photography contributed by Text Request / Text Request staffers show off their team spirit.

* Year established: 2014

* Employees: 30 (global)

* Milestones: Like most successful start-ups, Text Request started with founders who identified a need and bottled a solution. As the story goes, co-founders Brian and Jamey Elrod, husband and wife, were eating at a restaurant one day with a fretful young child. When the time came to ask for a check, the server proved elusive. "Why can't you just text them?" Jamey asked Brian. And with that simple exchange, the idea for a tech company, that has so far connected 50 million people, was born.

By 2020, the company was logging $6 million in annual revenue from a customer base spread across all 50 states and in every province in Canada. According to the company's website, Text Request's three-year growth rate has been 1,399%.

"We saw a massive disconnect that was causing businesses billions of dollars," attests the company's origin story on the corporate website. "Customers wanted to communicate through text, but businesses were stuck calling and emailing. That created barriers to lead generation, appointment scheduling, online reviews and more. The problems was businesses had no way to manage those conversations as a team."

The business was launched in 2014 when the Elrods, who are self-described serial entrepreneurs, joined with software developer Rob Reagan to start the company. A recent company milestone was reached when a main competitor conceded the small-business space and referred their customers to Text Request. "That's a huge win," said Kenneth Burke, vice-president of marketing.

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Photography contributed by Text Request / Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly helps Text Request staff members and local dignitaries celebrate a ribbon-cutting last year at the company's new downtown offices in Jack's Alley.

* Why this is a Best Place to Work: Survey respondents gave the company high marks in several areas: flexible hours, good pay and giving employees autonomy to do their jobs (the opposite of micro-managing).

Burke said today's workers expect employers to help them achieve a work-life balance. "Flexibility comes into play where life comes into play," he said in an interview. "When you need to go to the doctor or take care of your pet, or you need to travel a little bit, hey, we want to work with you to make sure your work and life work together."

On the pay front, Burke said the company tries position salaries above the market average and works to be generous with profit-sharing. Employees are also shown loyalty through independence and ownership of their job assignments, he said. "Basically our formula is to bring in great people, show them what needs to be done and give them autonomy (and) ownership. And then support them all the way."

* Quotable, from co-founder/president Brian Elrod: "Text Request is a great place to work because every employee puts real value in protecting our work environment. Great work environments are led by employees, not by bosses. Our folks lead!"

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