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1. HappyFox built a live chat software product and decided on a private beta
2. Got 1,000+ signups in under 2 weeks.
3. What helped — BetaList submission, Custom Referral Program, Social Media Outreach, Twitter Outreach.
4. What didn’t work — Reddit, Twitter Hashtag Chats

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    almost 5 years ago #

    Firstly, I'm really happy you picked "How WE" in the title vs the more prevelant clickbaity "HOW TO".

    Second, live chat is already a pretty crowded space with some big names in it - so interested to hear why live chat needed to be "reimagined"

    Third, deciding to offer this product for free is a great example of engineering as marketing - was that an intentional decision from the start?

    Lastly - and I think many others might be curious about this as well, would be to get more details on the referral solution you hacked together when the existing options didnt work.

    • SJ

      Shalin Jain

      almost 5 years ago #

      @anujadhiya thanks for the questions. I'm the founder behind the product and the product designer.

      I love building products in the customer support (and less known internal-support) space. Crowded or not this is my domain and passion. I have learnt a lot taking HappyFox into a 6-digit MRR with ~99% customer retention in the last 3+ years. I find joy in solving new problems in this space. There is a lot bigger opportunity with growth in customer communication moving more towards shorter messaging mediums like chat. I felt now is the time to re-imagine chat not just the product but even the pricing model.

      But that's only half-truth.

      One of the key reason to jump in was the fact that we had paying HappyFox customers who were ready to give us more money if we built a chat product. We largely focused on over-all chat experience rather than feature-talk when they told what they missed in current apps or how they wanted chat to solve customer communication. Sometimes your customers are your best source of ideas.

      But we didn't want to build just another product. So, we actually resisted building this initially until we solved two amazing design problems.

      First: Engineering a blazing fast chat API at unbelievable low cost. (I know -- BS, until proved - but that's the idea, hang on). We spent a major portion of our time cracking this problem and the end-goal was not to boast about our engineering achievements but deliver a business model that is harder to replicate. Marketing advantage: Super aggressive freemium model. Think Slack.

      Second: Experience, as mentioned in the post by @emkay we re-imagined chat by focusing on where your customers data lives while you are talking to them. We focus on bring that information, resulting in more in-context conversations and interactive data visibility from a large variety of apps. We designed an integration framework that allows to add new integrations very quickly and also making it super easy for companies to implement it. No coding or even zaps to make it happen.

      So, imagine a startup with no full time dedicated chat agent. Now with HappyFox Chat they can bring a larger portion of their team on-board. Not worry about pricing but really drive value first before having to question whether live chat would work for them or not. Freemium goes a long way here. Also, if they are using 3-different cloud apps which holds their customers info like CRMs, Email Marketing and Payment Gateway apps - they can strike more meaningful conversations.

    • MK

      Mani Karthik

      almost 5 years ago #


      Thanks for the submission Anuj.

      1.Good point on "We" v/s "How To".

      We were just being honest about it trying out different time tested strategies and improvising on them. For example @ashmaurya's strategy was so useful in helping us lock in on our target audience and finding the right product market fit. Although we had clarity on who to reach to and what to achieve, we had several routes to take. Thought the article would help other startups in the same situation, trying to get early traction. From the feedback we're getting, it is helpful and I'm glad. :)

      2. and 3. About why live chat has to be reimagined & offering it Free.

      This was my first question to @shalin10 when I met him before joining HappyFox. Like, why reimagine? But then he told me about the pain points customers are having with current live chat tools and how he could fix it. Then, he gave me a demo of the product and I was blown away.

      I'm sure he will love to fill in on the reimagination part.

      4. Reg: referral program - Absolutely. This is one feedback we've been getting time and again ever since we published this article. We thought, it deserved a dedicated article on how we did it and how others can do it. We're considering offering the solution we built for others free, so that they can make use of it.

  • AB

    Andrew Bermudez

    almost 5 years ago #

    Great post and great detail guys!

    Very awesome of you guys to share such valuable content. I also love Shalin's "Available to Chat" t-shirt.

    Where can I get one? :)

    • MK

      Mani Karthik

      almost 5 years ago #

      Hey @andrew-bermudez,

      Thanks for dropping by. Haha good question...

      Talk about timing... we just launched a "Do Not Hunt Us Yet" campaign for Product Hunters, where we're giving away Free T-Shirts for Product Hunters for NOT hunting us now.

      Just sign up here (https://www.happyfoxchat.com/do-not-hunt/) with your details and we'll send one your way.

      Make sure you order the right size btw. :)

  • JS

    Javier Sardá

    almost 5 years ago #

    @emkay, great post & advice, @shalin10 congratulations for the product. It looks really interesting.

    We've just gone through Beta. I wish I had read this post while getting ready for it. You may want to do a follow post on how you are managing Beta testers and getting the most out of their experience. I'm sure you'd have some great advice on that too.

    Why is your plan to get 10.000 Beta signups and not regular users? I feel that when you are in Beta, it's difficult to attract your ideal customer, who want a finished product. I feel the word "Beta" turns many people off (like myself)... so I'd love to know why you have such a high goal for Beta signups. Is the product fully operative and bug-free?

    Also .. intrigued by what you mention "If you are a SaaS company, wanting to do amazing things with content marketing, please ping me." You got my interest. I'll ping you.

    Finally ... I found the Product Hunt campaign you are doing really, really clever.

    • MK

      Mani Karthik

      almost 5 years ago #

      Hi @javiers

      Actually in our case, profiling out the ideal customer was easier, since we knew who would find the product useful + we thought carving out an initial pool who had issues with other tools/competition was the low hanging fruit. And with the referral program in place, scale was a core focus. Ideally, anyone selling something online or had a lean customer support team in place would be the ideal customer. 10K may be ambitious but thought we might as well make it big the very first time.

      The product will be public soon, until then we're using feedback from beta users to improvise the product. This has been helping us very much. Sure, will write a follow up post on it.

      Reg: PH campaign, Thank you. Feel free to sign up for the T-Shirt. :)

  • TS

    Tibor Szász

    almost 5 years ago #

    How did you get 20k followers on Twitter? That would be an interesting story.

  • JB

    Joshua Bretag

    almost 5 years ago #

    Hi @emkay

    Be amazing to see how you built the social engine for launching your beta list and getting all those shares. Any chance on getting a sneak peak on that?

  • DA

    Darius Abde-Yazdani

    almost 5 years ago #

    @anujadhiya tkx for this great article. Really inspiring approach you guys crafted there!

    We are currently preparing our beta launch ourselves, so I have one question in particular: why did you choose to incentivize people to move up the queue in terms of position vs. telling them they are x days from getting access and they can get access sooner by spreading the word - was there any particular reason for this? Do you have experience with the latter approach?