written by
Landon Bennett

The rise of building on messaging platforms 💬

SaaS 4 min read
The rise of building on messaging platforms

A couple weeks ago, Ryan Hover (Founder @ Product hunt) wrote a popular post on the rise of no code products. His thesis was that these tools will decrease the time and cost to build new products by 10x in the coming years. He's probably right, but there's another trend that's also cutting down the time to market for new SaaS business as well. That is, the rise of SaaS products being built on top messaging platforms. I don't mean simple integrations, but rather platform-first products being built on both internal and external messaging tools.

Messaging platforms changing the business landscape

For the past 5-10 years, messaging tools have taken over how we communicate with people in our lives (WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.), and more recently, in business. In business, there are two categories of messaging platforms:

  1. Internal collaboration: Slack, Microsoft Teams, gchat, etc.
  2. External engagement: Intercom, Drift, Hubspot, Zendesk, etc.

Big or small, chances are your company uses one or more of these tools everyday. Not only do you use these tools, but you likely spend the majority of your day in them. Additionally, these tools contain valuable internal knowledge and/or customer data thats core to the business. It's these reasons, along with speed/cost to market and customer discoverability, that building on these platforms has become an intriguing alternative to building from scratch.

Internal Messaging platforms

Slack is likely the fastest growing SaaS product in history. Over the last five years, it managed to eclipse almost every major competitor in the internal collaboration space on its way to 8 million daily active users and 3 million paid users. Slack is popular because it facilitates communication in the workplace, helps teams communicate/collaborate across remote distances and time, enables and encourages the sharing of documents/images/knowledge across teams, and its API allows for key data to flow in and out from other company SaaS tools.

These are also the same reasons companies are deciding to build Slack-first products. Here are some of the more interesting products built on Slack and other internal messaging platforms:

  • Eletype: a real-time digital assistant designed for search and social media marketing campaigns. Digital Marketing Monitoring to help you cover your ads.
  • Troops: integration platform between Salesforce & Slack. Automate key workflows, eliminate busy work, and deliver insights to make work easier, all within Slack.
  • Donut: Create an automated coffee or lunch roulette program instantly for your Slack team.
  • Disco: makes it easy to celebrate your company culture and values, all in the messaging tools you already use (Slack & Microsoft Teams).
  • Abacus: Now you can manage your expenses without leaving Slack!
  • Polly: A Slack polling solution built for everyone in your organization
  • Standuply: Digital Scrum Master for Slack. Run asynchronous standup meetings via text, voice/video and track team performance.
  • Teamline: The simple project management tool for Slack. Turn conversations into actions at the click of a button – create, assign and manage tasks in Slack.

Slack has even go so far to start a fund, of which the portfolio consists mostly of products built 100% on Slack.

External messaging platforms

Live chat and bots have changed the way sales, marketing, and support engage with their customers. Intercom, Zendesk, Drift, Facebook Messenger and others are some of the fastest growing SaaS products out there. You've likely seen them on most websites that provide a service:

These platforms empower companies to engage with their users in a conversational format when they're online and offline. They also store powerful user behavior data and attributes similar to a CRM. This data, combined with powerful segmenting, triggers, and messaging capabilities, makes these platforms an interesting starting point for building a product. Here's a few gaining some steam in the market:

  • Userfeed: Build the right products and grow your business using Intercom data and conversations. We're biased, but we think this one's pretty cool 😎
  • Octane AI: enables Shopify merchants to increase revenue with a Facebook Messenger bot that customers love. Quick note: Shopify is has an incredible app marketplace with hundreds of apps built on top of the platform.
  • Greyscale labs: Conversation-driven recruiting solutions for capturing leads & nurturing relationships. Engage with talent across all messaging channels (SMS, LinkedIn, chatbot, etc.).
  • BubbleIQ: Slack-First Ticketing for Support and IT help desks (connects with Zendesk or Salesforce Service Cloud to handle tickets through Slack).
  • Statbot: Analytics for Intercom.
  • Qualitista: Conversation review tool for Intercom, Zendesk, HelpScout, etc.

What's next?

Messaging apps aren't going away anytime soon. The more time that's spent in these platforms the more they will become the central UI and data hubs that other SaaS products will be built upon. We will end up spending less time jumping between a bunch of apps/tabs and more time completing tasks and taking actions in the messenger platform UIs.

What else? What other tools am I missing here?

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