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Abandoning the idea of building a Slack Alternative
I’ve decided to abandon the idea of building a Slack alternative. Following the feedback from my YC interview, I have spent the last two months trying to determine how I will drive the adoption of a Slack alternative within a company. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a good answer to this question and hence I’ve decided to abandon the idea of building a Slack alternative.
Insights from my research on driving the adoption of a Slack alternative
Initially, I had a hypothesis that founders of remote-first companies with less than 100 employees would be able to drive a change from Slack to another product. While I was able to find founders that hate slack, many of them mentioned that they are reluctant to force a new tool upon their employees and want the change to be driven from the bottom-up.
And so I’ve been thinking about what the solution is that improves communication and can be driven bottom-up. However, I haven’t been able to determine what is the product experience that does this. This is because I’m not able to come up with a single killer use case for a small team that is not already served by a “good enough” competitive alternative within a company (e.g. by Slack, Notion, Email).
To better illustrate what I mean, let’s look at the example of Threads. It’s a product that doesn’t aim to replace Slack and instead it creates a place to have asynchronous discussions so that Slack becomes the place for synchronous chat only. There are few notable companies using Threads, such as Brex or Buffer. However, after speaking with current and former users of Threads, the lack of a single killer use case of what type of discussions to use it for leads to teams defaulting to Slack for most discussions and hence they are unable to successfully adopt it.
I also think Threads has realized this and this is why they’re working on a soon-to-be-released redesign which aims to take Slack head-on as opposed to living alongside it. But then this leads back to the question of how do you drive adoption of it?
So what am I up to now?
Moving on from the idea of Slack alternative means starting over again in terms of exploring different problem areas to try to find one that excites me. I won’t lie, it’s frustrating to start over. At the same time though, I’m glad I was able to arrive at a conclusion with the previous idea now rather than later.
To uncover new problem areas I’ve been asking people “what problem do you have that you wish someone would build something to solve for you?” (Karl Hughes pointed out to me that the Mom Test actually phrases this better: “what problems do you have that you’re already spending money on for that you don’t feel are being adequately solved?“). I’ve received some interesting responses that I’m currently looking into.
My question to you as the reader is: What problems do you have that you’re already spending money on for that you don’t feel are being adequately solved? 🙂
Side project: a slack to-do list for Slack
A PM friend of mine is frustrated with keeping track of and prioritizing messages and action items in Slack, so as a side project I spent the last few days hacking together a kanban-like to-do list for Slack.
You can view a Loom video of the prototype here, or let me know if you want to try it out!
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