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The author had this idea of “open research” where a group of volunteers and he would coordinate doing research on a company and publicly share everything we learn including the results and process we used.

With the first open research project they analyze a survey that received over 700 responses from people who use Slack. It’s a great sample company for open research because of its current popularity and the hyper-growth the company is experiencing. After all, Slack is already being used by over 750,000 people each day.

The Slack product/market fit survey received 731 responses because of a bunch of tweets, personal emails and an email blast. The responses revealed who loves Slack, who doesn’t yet and why. Slack has product/market fit and the next steps involve optimizing the funnel so they can drastically increase the number of must-have users. To show the business benefits of the product/market fit survey, there are even a few recommendations on what Slack can do based on the survey data..

  • JB

    Joseph Bentzel

    almost 4 years ago #

    Congrats to @hiten for his open research project on Slack. Extremely valuable information.

    In that honest folks can disagree I came away from the data with a much different conclusion than he did.

    My conclusion. Slack may have product/market fit WITH DEVELOPERS but is very vulnerable to competition from others that begin their competitive journey in non-dev segments.

    Why?

    The top favorite Slack integration is GitHub

    The "less passionate users" surveyed believe that mostly or only technical people should use Slack.

    When one combines this with the fact that the lions share of current Slack integrations are developer, DevOps or other IT tools it mean's there is a lot of room for going head to head with them in other enterprise LOB and team collaboration segments.

    Any Slack competitors out there? Feel free to hit me up for a few ideas.

    • LT

      Luke Thomas

      almost 4 years ago #

      This is really good insight - my takeaway is that Slack is going to have a fun time trying to go from a few disparate departments to the entire organization.

      While I love the ease of use of Slack, it's actually not a compelling argument when trying to convince an admin to fork over $. I've seen this firsthand where I work. In "greenfield" organizations without chat, Slack can quickly gain traction, but it's much tougher when there's an incumbent (Hipchat, etc).

      "They were unable to pinpoint any specific way to differentiate Slack from other communication platforms." <- IMO that's exactly why they acquired Screenhero and will probably keep buying others in the future. They will continue to differentiate themselves.

      Slack will continue to grow and become a huge company, but even the best cos have cracks in the foundation that need some repair ;)

      • JB

        Joseph Bentzel

        almost 4 years ago #

        There's two ways to think about Slack.

        That the category it spawned is going to remain a 'product' or that it's going to be a 'feature' of other products. Here's what I mean.

        To lead as a 'product' it will spend all that VC money it's getting upping the number of integrations it supports---because without the integrations the value prop erodes.

        To lead as a feature it will market its API as a component or ingredient inside other apps, clouds, networks and solutions. What I call a 'partner @ the core' model.

        Time will tell. Right now they are doing both and that may pay off for them in the long run. But if an established collaboration vendor wanted to get into the 'slack business' there is a lot of competitive 'marketing attack surface' at the moment.

      • LE

        Luo Elsummer

        almost 4 years ago #

        Nice.

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hi Joseph, I'm curious about what you thought my conclusion was and what I wrote that made you think that. The goal was to present the data and insights gleamed from the survey responses, not for me to share an opinion. In fact, from my point of view, I haven't even shared my opinion yet ;)

      There's a lot of history between Campfire, HipChat and now Slack with BBS and IRC that pre-date those services. Every one of these started out with a relatively technical audience and most didn't break through that. There are some strong signs that make it seem like Slack will be the one to breakthrough and cross the chasm.

      • JB

        Joseph Bentzel

        almost 4 years ago #

        H: My view that you had/have reached a conclusion was based on this statement.

        "Slack has product/market fit!"

        Maybe I've seen too many reruns of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine schools her boyfriend on the role of the exclamation point. :-)

        I added two words "for developers" to qualify that statement and to highlight my own view that they are vulnerable to competitors--especially bigger players-- beginning their adoption journey in other verticals/user segments.

        I say this because it's been my experience that 'fit' is elastic and contracts and expands based on competition. Meerkat vs Twitter Periscope a recent case in point.

        RE: "Slack mimicks more of a consumer product growth model than a B2B product". Definitely true as of today. The same could be said of Box which is now aggressively pivoting to a B2B vertical solutions model to continue growing while stopping the red ink.

        Thanks again for a great research project. You could probably turn the idea into a company with just the folks on this thread. J

        • HS

          Hiten Shah

          almost 4 years ago #

          Well, according to Sean's survey methodology, that statement is factually correct. There's only so much that can be assessed with a survey like this without direct access to the user base or metrics for the business. I don't believe there is any clear vulnerability in Slack today that can be easily exposed directly. It's likely that an indirect competitor will emerge over the long term unless Slack builds more functionality and / or acquires products that threaten their core. Yes, product/market fit is a moving target and Brian Balfour puts it really well here: http://www.coelevate.com/essays/product-market-fit

    • TO

      Trevor Owens

      almost 4 years ago #

      Great observation. In my experience, technical people control what tools a startup will use.

      For example, my team has been using Flowdock because it had all the integrations my development team needed, ie. bugsnag, github, stripe, circleci, etc.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    almost 4 years ago #

    So much good learning in here for when you conduct your own product/market fit surveys and how/what to learn from them.

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    almost 4 years ago #

    Love this idea and the initial output is great.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    almost 4 years ago #

    I'm really curious how much Atlasssian paid for Hipchat (it was undisclosed). Based on this survey, it's clear that much of Slack's success has been at the expense of Hipchat. Seems Atlasssian should have been a lot more aggressive "taking the #slack" out of this market - pun intended :)

  • TO

    Trevor Owens

    almost 4 years ago #

    @hiten @sean How do you think about any sampling affects this research? Could we have gotten a different result than a true cross-section of the user base? Is this result more or less relevant than a true cross-section? ie. 52% of the people you surveyed started their team's slack, clearly the ratio of people who start vs. are invited is an order of magnitude smaller in the real cross-section.

  • MZ

    Mike Ziarko

    almost 4 years ago #

    I still don't understand the hype surrounding Slack.
    Our team has been using Hipchat for a couple of years and really like it. Slack seems to fair well with open communities and heavy on integrations. Aside from that it appears to be just like any other chat client.

    We use a few integrations with Hipchat but don't go nuts on them. I used Slack awhile back but missed the IRC feel of Hipchat.
    Am I missing something?

    • SE

      Sean Ellis

      almost 4 years ago #

      I think most of the hype around Slack is because of their growth in users and revenue. That growth is not necessarily based on unique features, but rather great user onboarding and the low friction free plan with perfectly timed prompts to upgrade. I have to admit that every interaction in Slack has been enjoyable for me (except for default notifications being a bit overboard). It has quickly reached email usage levels for me.

      I'm not sure that Slack's target market is Hipchat users. It's probably all of the businesses that Hipchat failed to aggressively reach and convert.

      Good news for you is that I think you'll see Hipchat get a lot more attention and investment from Atlasssian because of Slack's perceived success.

  • AR

    Adam Rowles

    almost 4 years ago #

    Thanks, great idea. We'll have to try slack out.

  • JM

    Jason Meresman

    almost 4 years ago #

    Wow. Great post @hiten. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to seeing more articles like this.

  • JS

    Jonathan Sinclair

    almost 4 years ago #

    These must read articles on GH always end up consuming an entire afternoon, haha. Great article, intriguing research, and I loved reading everyones thoughts and related articles. I'm a huge fan of slack and its a very interesting topic/area to watch develop.

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