When we launched Superside (formerly known as Konsus) one year ago, we hadn’t written a single line of code. In nine months, we bootstrapped a business to $100,000 in monthly revenue using remote freelancers, participated in Y Combinator, and raised a USD 1.5M seed round from a group of prominent Silicon Valley investors, including the Slack Fund.
Ten years ago, I’m pretty sure that what we did would not have been possible.
It helped that three billion people have come online the last 10 years and almost all of them have smartphones. But there is a more subtle change that matters just as much: You no longer need to build everything yourself to get started.
Ten years ago, starting Superside would, among other things, require building an external and internal chat client before we could serve our first customer. Today many of these tools are available as so-called Software as a service (SaaS).
SaaS tools reduce the investment needed to start a startup. They allowed us to bootstrap our company into existence. Instead of our own servers, we use Box. Instead of our own helpdesk, we used Intercom.
Most importantly, instead of building our internal team communication software, we used Slack. Keep reading to learn how your business can benefit from our experience.
The Superside team a little over one year ago
Step 1: Install Slack and Integrate the Tools You Already Use
It’s no exaggeration to say that we have built our entire company in Slack, from one to hundreds of team members. Slack completely substitutes for other methods of internal communication, like internal e-mail or actually having an office.
Why Use Slack?
Its features include: • Flexible creation of channels, groups and direct messages
• Full transparency and searchable files and messages
• Fantastic look
The moment Slack goes from being like discovering a cool new coffee shop to discovering fire is when you discover the apps.
Like the Appstore or the Playstore, Slack has apps, so you can connect all the other tools you use to it, and deal with everything through one interface.
Some apps get you external products inside Slack. Other integrations are made specifically for Slack because it is a chatbot.
Step 2: Install Apps that Allow You to Focus on Your Mission
At Superside, we have 47 apps installed for our Slack team. Here are five that you can go right ahead and install now.
What it does: Zapier is like IFTTT for businesses. It allows you to create a chain of actions when a certain event happens or certain conditions are met.
What it really does: Allows you to make simple hacks to complex problems that you plan to solve for real later.
What it does: Receive and reply to customer service requests inside Slack.
What it really does: You never have to leave Slack to talk to anyone ever again.
What it does: Post tasks and to-dos to a channel or DM.
What it really does: Delegates the annoying job of following up to a product instead of having you or other people do so.
What it does: Tells you when the internet says something about you.
What it really does: Makes you happy that someone with three followers is saying something nice about you into the void.
What it really does: Allows you to get work done that you don’t have the capacity to do.
Step 3: Make Your Own Internal Integration
The next step in building your company inside Slack is making full use of the Slack possibilities to create your own internal automations.
So that we can stay sane, we try to keep the tools we use in our daily operations inside Slack. As we waded into the waters of building our own platform, we decided that we had to be able to interact from inside Slack. And so we did.
(It isn’t that hard to get started to play around. Here are some pointers to get you started: You can get stuff out from Slack using either Slash Commands or Outgoing webhooks. You get stuff into Slack using Web API or Incoming Webhooks.)
Since Slack has made it easy for users to chat, it was natural for us to create a chat-based interaction with our app using APIs.
The initial tasks our internal Slack integrations performed were:
Step 4: Make Uour Own Slack App
When we created our own app, we were four months post-launch and had just joined Y Combinator. We had been playing around with our internal integration for a while. We started to think: Why not make one for our customers as well? And so we did.
The initial version of this app was incredibly simple. It was a Slack integration that talked to Intercom’s API, giving the user the experience of talking directly to us straight from their Slack team.
The bot was a hit on Producthunt and even got some press. Suddenly more than 300 teams had installed the bot.
Step 5: Get Slack to Notice You
At this point of the story, I realized our experience gradually was feeling harder.
In a fortunate turn of events, the Slack Fund found what we were doing so interesting that they actually decided to invest in us.
And when we read their vision, it was easy to understand why:
“Slack aims for a vision where companies using Slack will be able to do anything inside the Slack interface. Never having to leave the platform to access tools or solve problems.”
By giving companies access to talent inside the Slack app, we find that we are natural allies with Slack. Slack is the platform, while Superside provides instant, universal access to talent for companies using Slack, without having to leave the interface.
You too can Build Your Company Inside Slack!
Using the tools that Slack gave us access to allowed us to build a company with many fewer resources than would otherwise have been needed, since we could focus on what was unique for us.
I sincerely do recommend that you do it too. Building our company in Slack was one of the best choices we ever made, and the journey has only just begun.
Learn more about Superside and try us out for yourself on our website.
We sat down with Bill Macaitis, former Slack CMO, to chat about what it takes to success with ad design. Hear his tips and more in this Q&A style interview!