UpSnap banks on free service

Located in Davidson, UpSnap Inc. is a publicly traded company that offers text messages and searchable live music, sports, weather and other services sent directly to cell phones.

CEO Tony Philipp says he's spent four years building the company's structure. Despite the slow economy, he says, the business is growing steadily. Last year, it had nearly $1 million in revenues.

Philipp, 45, was born in Greenville, S.C., went to elementary school in Charlotte and received an undergraduate business degree from Clemson. He also studied under a Fulbright scholarship and later received a master's in international business at University of South Carolina.

He got the idea for UpSnap based on his experience working for two other companies, then co-founded the company with a San Francisco partner in 2004.

Philipp decided to locate UpSnap in Davidson because it offers a good lifestyle for his family and access to college interns, and is close to the Charlotte airport. He has five employees in Davidson and a server farm in Charlotte.

Philipp spoke with the Observer last week. Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Q. Can you tell me more about what UpSnap does?

UpSnap delivers content to cell phones, most of it free of charge. You can listen to the most up-to-date sports information delivered by Sporting News. We have close to 1,000 channels people can listen to on their phones. Find more details at

Q. What's the newest development?

Recently we launched a free service with Disney. You can listen to Disney Radio on your phone. It's great for kids.

Q. What's your assessment of UpSnap's growth potential?

Mobile advertising is expected to grow into a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States over the next several years. UpSnap's network optimizes advertising for the right kind of content – audio ads for audio content and text ads for text messaging. Our ads are about 10 seconds and they're interactive.

Q. What's your most popular content?

Music is first, then sports.

Q. Anything else you'd like to say about UpSnap?

Most of its services, like radio, are ad-supported and free to listeners. UpSnap also offers free 411 services. In a time of a declining economy, UpSnap offers a bargain. You can't beat free.