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My First (Almost) Big Mistake … The Story of ChatSpot Live

image A few months back I posted about working on a new product and promised to follow up in a month or so with details. Well there’s been some interesting developments in this area that I wanted to share with all of you. Since I generally share my successes here I think it’s also important to share my missteps.

After a few months of research this fall I decided that the second UserScape product would be a live chat program for website sales and customer service. I liked the idea because it was different enough from HelpSpot for some diversification, but similar enough that there would be good cross selling opportunities and the two apps would make sense together.

The live chat market is perfect for a small ISV because it’s a very fragmented market with no one big player. There’s also a serious lack of self hosted options. Almost all of the major players are hosted and I believe there are a lot of IT shops who would prefer to manage their own installations. There’s also a serious lack of innovation in terms of what’s possible now with JavaScript, AJAX, etc. So I began some basic work and even had the logo created by mighty MIke Rohde.

If you’re interested you can even checkout the pre-launch page I put together: http://www.userscape.com/products/chatspotlive/

For some reason I appear to have been under the mistaken belief that I actually had time for a second product. Luckily a few weeks ago I decided to shelve the project. HelpSpot sales have been booming and even with Jamie now on board there’s still not enough time in the day. While I think ChatSpot Live would be a great product and a valuable piece of software there’s no way I can remove my attention from HelpSpot for such a long period of time.

I’m happy I realized this before I had truly launched product development, though I do lament the time I spent on it. However, all that time is not wasted. First, I believe I’ll have the chance to develop ChatSpot in the future if the live chat market conditions stay similar to what they are today. Second, I was able to explore a lot of great new technology during the rough drafts of ChatSpot and many technologies I played with will be making their way into HelpSpot v2. Finally, it provided a bit of a reality check which I probably needed.

I could go into a lot of the background on ChatSpot, but I think I’ll save that for another time or perhaps discuss it more in the comments. Overall I’d have to chalk this up as one of my largest missteps to date, but it’s given me an opportunity to learn from the mistake as well as immediately providing an opportunity to use those lessons in the next version of HelpSpot.

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