14 Oct Ryver Team Communication is a good story!
Creating Ryver Team Communication was really hard. We made so many mistakes with fits and starts it is embarrassing. Anyone who knows tech startups, knows this is very typical however. Startups are very hard.
At the end of my email signature it says, “Innovation occurs when you take a chance you might be wrong.” When you set out to do something new there is simply no way to know if you’re right or wrong. You have no idea if you will succeed or fail. Smokey Robinson wrote “My Girl” for the Temptations. When he found out it was a hit he was totally surprised!
Slack caught lightning in a bottle and had no idea their new product would be a phenomenon. I love they admit they did not know Slack was going to be so successful. I also love that they stopped building a game, took the VC money they had left and finished the “side project” they had been working on for their own internal use. Were they just lucky? No way!
Most innovations are not luck. Usually they come from one thing – persistence. For over 3 years I have been working with a team of very talented people on ideas we thought were very innovative. We worked our butts off, but we just could not get it right. We started over 3 times. We beta tested a version for 7 months in 2014 and learned a lot – we learned we got it wrong! It was embarrassing! After building software for 30 years I am supposed to know how to do this! We had built a lot of really good software that simply did not fit the market the way it needed to. It was so embarrassing to admit I kept getting it wrong.
Were we focused? Yes! We were focused on the wrong thing but did not realize it. Many of our assumptions were just wrong. Did we get early feedback? Yes! We showed our innovations to analysts, journalists and potential customers. Everyone we talked to LOVED the early product! Everyone was going to buy it! Long ago I realized, “there is an unlimited demand for the unavailable.” Most people will honestly and sincerely tell you they will buy something that is not finished right up until you ask for their money! I experienced that lesson before but missed it totally this time around.
The one glimmer of good news was some beta testers had become raving fans. We got it right for a few! So we talked with them at length. The main element they really loved was not even the main element of the product. We got most things wrong but we got one thing right. People LOVED the way we did team communication.
Our team communications was buried in a lot of other functions and features. It would be hard to rip out everything else. Worse, team communication was squarely where Slack was creating their phenomenal success. And oh yeah, by this time Slack had $300MM in the bank. We knew we would have to go head to head with them. We could have quit but we knew there was never just one winner in any new category. There are always several winners. We had reasons to believe we could be one of the big winners. It wasn’t easy to see but we KNEW Slack was not invulnerable to great marketing tactics. December of 2014 we started over to build the best in Team Communication.
We believed as good as Slack was, it seemed to us they were missing some key elements that we already had if only we added Chat. So that’s what we did. We painfully lowered our burn rate laying off some truly great people. We started ripping out everything but team communication. We combined our Topic based Discussions with Chat in a way no one had ever done. Team Communication is more than Chat. Team communication needs both chat and topical discussions because that mirrors communication in real life.
We believe we have created something different and better in some important ways. And most importantly we made it One Flat Rate! When we beta tested the new Ryver we observed that Team Communication would not spread far into and organization if you had to pay by the user for it. The was always hesitation to add new users increasing cost.
Slack’s free version is severely crippled You had to pay Slack to get a version that would really work. And since you had to pay for every user it meant central command would be in charge to control costs.
And we have features they don’t have our customers really love. The main one is we have great chat tightly integrated with our topic-based discussion. The best of Slack and Yammer/Facebook!
Success is most often related to time – Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours as an example. It took us 3 years of mistakes to finally build something we think is truly great and gets better and better every week. We think you are going to love it. Give Ryver a try and let us know what you think!