This is the beginning of my own very first product. For a long time, I thought that I lost my motivation on actually making things, like websites and apps. For some reason and by my own surprise I got hooked on a simple idea. In this post, I want to share the story behind this idea until today.
Three months ago, like a lot of other people, I would describe myself as a silent lurker on indiehackers.com. I read all interviews, I listened to every podcast and read through the discussions in the forum. That was shortly after quitting my old job in a tech company selling T-Shirts. Regrettably, being the single one developer in a company that tries to build innovative tech, is not going to end well for that developer (🔥🖥🔥).
So reading about all the stuff going on in the indiehackers community, reading books like „The Four Hour Work Week“ and „Marketing for Developers“, I thought that I should build something by myself. Something that I am alone responsible for.
„Okay“, I thought, „being in that indiehacker-inspiration mood, that shouldn’t be too hard“.
I started to build a simple CRM system, but surprisingly my motivation disappeared quickly. I started to build a much simpler budgeting app for myself, but my motivation was gone after two weeks. I then started to work on a little project to simply setup interactive charts, but… you can guess, my motivation faded away.
A few other problems aside (like validating my ideas first), motivation was a big hurdle to keep working on my ideas.
About a month ago I found a forum post of a guy who wanted to get feedback to his app. It was a survey tool call Acquainted which used a chatbot-like experience to engage with the users who participate the survey. After each question, I could choose between multiple answers, to which the chatbot again answered to with an individual message. It actually felt like a real conversation and I was instantly flashed by it.
What problem does it solve?
The acquainted project (this word is really difficult to type correctly) got me thinking about the whole chatbot industry. It is not so long ago that messenger bots arise everywhere. Since at least Facebook published their bot API, creating and using chatbots should be normal for every business. But thinking of chatbots, why is nobody using it? Not talking about the big players here, but it seems that smaller companies doesn’t even think of them. I guess that it would just take too much time to setup and train it correctly to justify its value. And this is maybe one of the reasons why I personally see not so many chatbots, especially on websites. My conclusion here: being able to create a chatbot for my own use case in a matter of minutes, could be a valuable problem to solve.
The thing is that acquainted proved to me, that there is no need for a real chatbot at all. I don’t need to type in my own words and expect the bot to guess what I meant. It is totally fine to choose between a given set of responses and this provides enough conversational experience to keep someone hooked on the chat.
Surveys aside, I think that an easy to setup, conversational, chatbot-like experience could be used in much more areas. By talking to people actively working in the event business, I came to the conclusion that a product like this could be used for trade shows, conferences, in an office’s lobby or in stores. Not only for surveys of course but generally speaking to engage with a customer. In a conversation, it is much easier to transport your companies language. It feels more personal, even when the customer knows that he is talking to a bot. Maybe it feels even more comfortable to just click on responses, instead of being forced to write something out.
For now, I am still figuring out all the features needed, to make my project applicable to the event (or let it just be „offline“) use cases. In mid-November, I plan to attend a small, local conference where I will test out the first version of my chatbot. By then I will make further updates on the progress and tell you more about the planned features.
If you want to take a sneak peek on the current progress, you can visit it on botreach.co. In case you like it, you can sign up for the newsletter there, where I will be sending out any future updates on the product.
On top of that I will try to post as much as I can of everything on my journey to the first customer and beyond or to the point where I think that I’ve failed.
Feedback, positive and negative, is highly appreciated.
Originally published at philippreinking.de on October 25, 2017.