As Intercom's Chief Strategy Officer, Des Traynor (@DesTraynor) knows a thing or two about building a successful company. Over the past 7 years, he's worn almost every hat there is to wear. In this interview, Des explains how Intercom got to where it is today and what he's learned along the way, from marketing, to product development and feature prioritization, to hiring, sales, and developing an effective vision that people can believe in.
What's up, everyone? This is Courtland from IndieHackers.com and you are listening to the IndieHackers podcast. On this show I talk to the founders of profitable Internet businesses and I try to get a sense of what it's like to be in their shoes. How did they get to where they are today? How do they make decisions, both at their companies and in their personal lives and what makes their businesses tick?
Today I am talking to Des Traynor one of the cofounders of Intercom and its Chief Strategy Officer. I'm a big fan of yours Des, I've watched more than a few of the talks that you've given and read a lot of your articles as well. So I'm really excited to have you on the show. Thank you so much for joining.
Thank you so much for having me Courtland. I'm a huge fan of Indie Hackers.
It's really cool to hear that. So Intercom is a suite of messaging first products that pretty much any Internet business can use to accelerate growth by directly talking with their customers. Is that an accurate way to describe it?
That's very accurate. Yeah.
How did you get started working on Intercom?
It's funny, the reason we got started was because of a pain we had with our previous product. Intercom wasn't actually the original plan it sprang out of solving a personal pain that we had with the previous software as a service business.
So way back, starting in 2008 we had a Ruby on Rails error tracker tool called Exceptional and with Exceptional we had thousands of paying customers, all over the world. Very very few in Ireland, where were based and we had no easy way to talk to them whatsoever. Frequently it was my job to get an export of all the active users that we had and import that into Campaign Monitor and send out an email like "hey, how's it going, here are some features we are working on. What would you to see from us next?"
Then we'd get all of these replies into my Gmail, which I'd then have to forward around to various people. It was only a small team, it was four or five of us and I'd be forwarding these things around saying should we work on this? Should we work on that? But it was a really messy workflow. In fact everything about running a SaaS business back then was quite messy.
There was no Stripe, there was no MixPanel. There was no good tools or tooling or instrumentation. So we figured rather than doing this messy email flow, one day we decided well, what if we just put a message inside the product instead. The logo for Exceptional at the time was a little star and it sat in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. One day a little speech bubble popped out of the star saying "Hey, here's some features we've recently released. What would you like us to work on next?".
What was remarkable was the response to that was so much higher and so much more engaging than anything we'd ever received from our email before. We started to think shit, this is a much better way to speak to our users. Being a group of founders based in Ireland with customers all over the world but very few in Ireland, we did feel really disconnected from our customers. We felt we had no sort of personal relationship with them. And this was the first sort of channel we felt that let us speak through our product to them, when they're in our product.
So we started to iterate on that, we made it easier for customers to reply. We made it so that we could target which customers could see the messages, which customers couldn't. Then it was simple things like, show me who has been in the product and seen the message. Before you know it we had this live customer database with communication tools springing out of it that we could then use to have real conversations with our customers, get them using certain features, get feedback and other things, support them when they bump into bugs.
And from there I remember multiple customer saying to us, "Yo, I'm not really cool on this Exceptional thing, it's not that exciting but this weird thing that you talk to me through that's amazing." So that was kind of the genesis of Intercom. We eventually sold Exceptional, it went on to become a part of Rackspace and we just went all in on Intercom. Our CEO Eoghan moved to San Francisco. We raised some money, we hired some people and it's been quite a roller coaster since then.
I was looking at the original blog post where you guys announced Intercom as a standalone product, that you posted on Hacker News back in I think 2011 and there's a section in there that's titled "Our MVP is bigger than your MVP".
Because it actually took you guys quite a while to build the product and get it out the door. What did that process look like and why did it take you so long?
Yeah so the "Our MVP is bigger than your MVP" comment I think Eoghan wrote that referencing that every time we showed this product to anyone, the number one piece of feedback was "Shit, you guys built a lot of software". And if you recall 2011 it was just around the peak "Lean". Everyone was following Eric Ries' doctrine on the Minimum Viable Product, The Lean Startup etc.
We had kind of gone the non-lean way in that we had built this sales, marketing and support tool with a live CRM attached and messaging and email and all sorts of stuff. I think the stages were, in a nutshell, we first of all built a way to push messages out. Then we built a way to see who had seen the messages. Then we built a way to only send messages to certain people based on criteria that they had met. Then we built the live user list, so you could see your users. Then we built in layers of automation so you could always target people when they met certain criteria.
And then we built a fancy support based inbox so if you're supporting a customer who's on your premium plan, you can be extra polite or you can tell them about certain features that only they would see or whatever. And then when we had all of that fully baked, well not fully baked but I guess when we felt that was all in a good place we launched email.
I think there was a notable step change when we said "Hey, all of these things that can appear in your product, you can also send them as email". When we did that, that was one of the first, I think step change is probably the best word. Where people were like wow, I can do a lot of stuff with this. You can be my marketing. You can be my support. You can be my product feedback. You can be my research. You can be my CRM. And we were like yes, we think we can be all of those things.
I guess seven years later I'm realizing the implications of those decisions. That was how we stepped it out and the driving force for each decision or each incremental piece of functionality was simply, what did we want to do with the product? We expanded it until it bumped into the edges of what we thought made sense for a customer communication platform.
Our mission all the way along, just to kind of give the context to this was, we always said we wanted to make Internet business personal. We said that when we started in 2011, we still say that today. For us the the background to this was some version of, we believe all businesses will become Internet businesses and we believe that a lot of revenue will definitely shift towards recurring revenue or subscription revenue of sorts.
And subscriptions, whether it's Spotify or whether it's Amazon Prime or whatever it's based on a positive experience and customer loyalty. And customer loyalty is based on positive interactions with your customers. We wanted to build a tool that made it easy to have these really positive interactions that would build the relationships, that would build the loyalty, that would grow to revenue.
So whenever we considered what was in scope or out of scope, we simply asked ourselves, will this help make a personal relationship between a business and user? Because the one direction we always have to say no to from the start, and we're a big proponent of saying no in general. We have admittedly said yes to some pretty chunky pieces of software. People always wanted to pull an analytics tool out of us because I think we were the first people to have live user data in a CRM or at least the first people we were aware of.
Whenever people can see all these rows of people and we'd show their names and their current state and what they were doing. Everyone's like oh, I want to see this as a cohort chart. I want to see this as a retention chart or a cycle plot or something that, we were always kind of hesitant because that's a different product for us. That was probably the biggest area we have to shy away from in terms of where we drew the lines.
We were like, we're not going to become an analytics tool because at the time there was Mixpanel, there was Kissmetrics all coming up. When we looked at them, they're specifically not about making Internet business personal. That's not to say they are bad tools, they are great tools but they were going in a very different direction than us.
We were happy that they were going in a different direction than us and we didn't want to also have to adopt that direction too. So that's how we stacked the features up. The evolution over time has actually been to just get more refined on exactly what it is we're doing. We haven't really said yes to areas of communication for businesses outside of the original scope.
So you guys wanted to make Internet business personal. At what point did you actually sit down and explicitly write this out as your vision? And also, what did you hope to gain by having such a clearly defined vision so early on in your company's life?
I remember when we did it, we had a very horrible office on the north side of Dublin above University in one of the cheap rental spaces and we had these nine whiteboards. We basically moved from whiteboard to whiteboard writing up everything that we believe and a lot of what we believed was loyalty, personality, relationships. From there, I can't remember the exact moment we distilled it down, but I think we'd had a few different pops that.
And if you look at some of my earlier writing, I think I wrote a piece for Smashing Magazine which was called Taking a Customer From Like To Love or something that. And that was various different stabs at coming up with a mantra or a theme for the business. I don't remember exactly when we said we were going to make Internet business personal but one thing that we've always been firm on is that a mission and a vision driven business is a really important thing, when you want to bring other people on board and when you want to have clarity of thought.
I think once we actually geographically split up it became phenomenally more important to make sure that there's core axioms that we all believed from which we could infer the sort of decisions we should be making.
I think as we scaled, we're now we're 500 people, if you grab any random Intercomrade from London, Chicago, Sydney, San Francisco, Dublin and asked them what's Intercome here to do? They will all say without hesitation, to make Internet business personal and that trickles into everything.
Our design pattern library includes rules such as, never talk about a user without showing their face and their name. That's how you keep things personal. It leaks into everything that we do and I think that has been really powerful.
It has also, obviously every single meaningful opinion you hold has to be in some sense, divisive. Not everyone thinks it should be true and at times we've had people push back and say "I don't want this to be personal, I want this to be mass-market, transactional".
Our attitude has always been, well that's fine, that's just a different product. That's not what we're here to do. And if you choose to progress with us you're going to be disappointed because we're going to ship a lot of features that will make things more personal because we believe that's the best way to grow your business. And if you disagree with that, you're not going to like what you see coming over the next couple of years in terms of products.
So we've always believed that you anchor a company around a mission and a vision. That was one of my earlier frustrations with The Lean Startup idea was I always felt there was a sense of just keep throwing MVP's at a wall and see what sticks. I've always felt like, no, you have to start with some core things that you really fundamentally believe about the world and use that as your basic principles from which you'll extrapolate the hypotheses and products.
If you don't start from there, I always worry that you're just going to become like, hey, we're a project management tool, now we're analytics tool and now we send an email and now we take screenshots and annotate them. You can just dance around but never really get anywhere. I think it's one of those areas where people confuse movement with momentum it's always been a frustration of mine when I've seen companies flounder like that.
So one of the things that you guys did early on is you had to settle on Intercom as a product that you were going to get behind and I think a lot of early stage founders struggle because they're not sure if they should commit to what their current idea is. They might see a few tendrils of traction, but they're not sure if it's significant enough.
They see a few people express interest but they're not sure if it's sincere. How did you guys decide wholeheartedly that Intercom was the product you wanted to work on? And how can other early-stage founders read the clues to decide if what they're working on is really the right product or if they should change to something else?
It's a great question. I'll answer in a couple of different ways. The first thing I'd say is, it was for us a real solution to an actually real problem that we had. When I first saw the user dashboard that we'd created inside Intercom I really knew at the time that we'd created something that was just fundamentally very very valuable because I'd never seen it before and it was just this really visceral sense of, here are my users, these are the people who are paying me for my product.
That was just a moment where I knew, no matter what, someone was going to make this thing successful. It might not be our version of it but someone's going to make this idea of a live user list into a product and it'll be popular. In the years since obviously a lot of people have done that. Then when we saw some of the response rates that we got to people. When we sent out our own messages to our users and they were replying in such crazy volume, I just knew that was the strands of something there.
The other thing I'd say is, in our beta we invited a lot of our friends and family, if you like, type of people. One of them I remember having a really long Skype call with, you might know him Garrett Dimon who had a product called Sifter.
Yeah. I had him on the podcast.
Yeah. So I remember Garrett tried a pilot of Intercom and he pushed a message live to all of Sifter's users saying some version of "Hey Garrett here, I'm the guy who works on sifter. I'm the only guy works in Sifter. I'd love to know what you think of the product. I'd love to know if there are any features you would like me to work on." And that was what he did and he did a Skype call with us late one evening over here, it was 9 or 10 p.m.
We were in a shared office space and literally as soon as the Skype call connected he was like "Holy shit, you guys this is the most amazing product I've ever seen. I've been typing all day to 2,000 customers. This is amazing. I've never been so connected to my customers" and we were like "Whoa, whoa, whoa, what?" And he was just showing us screenshots of what was happening and I was like, right, this thing is for real. It's definitely something people really need and want.
That was one way, so it's did it solve our problem and for somebody else. Our problem was as a SaaS business, can we connect to our customers? Can we talk to our customers in easy ways and in some sense, get some value out of those conversations. Our beta hypothesis was, if we find other people who are like us will they react the same way that we did? That proved that.
The last piece that you always have to kind of test with all of this, is that both of those conditions can be true, but you could still build a product that's worth very little. Let's say your whole thing is, I don't know, annotating screenshots. Or let's just say, I guess what I'm getting at here is there is a very very small sliver of functionality or a very very rare sliver of functionality, something you don't need a lot.
I think, in general if you're going to start a start-up, if you're an entrepreneur out there, it's a lot easier if you're tackling a problem you really know yourself. If you're tackling someone else's problem make sure there's a lot of other people like that in the world and make sure that your beta proves it. I'd say still pick a customer and freeze on them and make sure you're solving their problem and then try to extrapolate to your beta to find more customers like that.
The core question I always encourage people to ask is, is this a big, common problem? Big, meaning it's a substantial problem so that people will pay money for it to go away. And common, meaning does it happen a lot and does it happen to a lot of people? If it's a big, common problem then that's usually a good sign that you're onto something.
So when I think of say, Stripe. Payment is a big problem. Every business owner needs to make money and they need to charge at the very least once a month, right? Slack, talking to your colleagues is a problem and people talk to their colleagues all the time, especially in a remote friendly world. Intercom, talking to your customers is something people need to do. And you need to do an awful lot for sales, marketing, product research, support, you name it.
So I always think, just latch onto those kind of big, common problems. Make sure it solves your problem. And if not your problem, make sure to have one really tight reference customer.
Make sure you're nailing their problem and then extrapolate to form your hypothesis or your beta. And if you can check those three boxes, I'm solving my problem, my beta shows that I'm not a lunatic and I'm not the only person in the world like this and this problem is for real. It is big, it is common, it is out there. Then I think you kind of have the bones of a great startup there.
You just go from that point. You just need to play it out and it does have million challenges still to go but I think that's the kind of ingredients you want to be looking for it to start.
One of the challenges that a lot of founders have to face is, what is my business model going to be? And in addition to The Lean Startup being sort of a popular movement back around 2010-2011, when you look at the big tech companies back then, that everybody revered and held up as the standard of what you wanted to be, it was Facebook and Twitter.
There was no Uber. There was no Airbnb or Instacart or Stripe. None of the big role-model unicorn companies were really charging customers money. How did you guys decide that you wanted to charge for Intercom? And what did you guys want to ultimately become?
Our heroes growing up in the tech industry, it was Basecamp AKA 37Signals when we were growing up. I really think we won't fully realize the impact that Jason Fried and DHH have had on the industry for many many years to come. When people look back and read the Getting Real book and think of the amount of startups that launched. There are many many multi billion dollar startups that point to either Ruby on Rails or the book Getting Real or the Signal v. Noise blog as their starting point. The piece that made them feel that they too could have a go at it and they too could actually start a business.
And they were always upfront about, if you want to run a business you should charge some money. So for us knowing that we were selling software to other, at the time, B2B SaaS companies. Today we sell to B2C and ecommerce and entertainment companies and media and gaming but back then our target customer was the Sifter or the Basecamp's of the world.
So back then it was very simple. Of course we're going to charge money. We're going to charge money every month, it's going to be called a subscription because this is what we've seen those who have had successful footsteps do. And not ironically, just in full roundabout way, myself and Eoghan flew to Chicago to meet with Jason Fried specifically with the question, how much money should we charge? And he gave us great advice at the start and from that point onwards , I think it was July 2012. So we ran a free beta for quite a while and then we introduced our beta pricing of $50 a month. I could tell you every single reason why $50 a month was a terrible pricing decision and at the same time, the right decision for where we were.
It's cool to hear this because Jason Fried and DHH over at Basecamp were also my biggest role models around the exact same time period. I remember going to Y Combinator Startup School conference and hearing Jason talk. And I'd never really heard anybody say that you don't need to raise money for starting a start-up. What you really need to do is solve a problem, put a price tag on your product and customers will pay you a monthly fee and you can make a living that way. It just wasn't a mainstream opinion at the time.
Was it Jason or David? I remember David had the whole like, he gave the infamous one where it was like, step one, step two, step three.
Yeah. I saw the YouTube video of that talk and then I went.
Jason was speaking the year that I went. That's also one of my favorite talks ever.
Yeah mine too.
I think what's interesting about Intercom is that the Basecamp guys were very much charge money for your products, but they're also somewhat anti-venture capital. They were against raising money. With Intercom, you guys have done both. You've charged, you've raised. How did you guys look at navigating that path?
So I think we're not alone in that regard. I could name dozens of SaaS companies who both charge and raise, if you know what I mean. I think in the consumer space it makes a lot more sense to not charge because most of these things are a marketplace-esque type situation, where you will need to grow an audience so that you can sell ads to them, but you can't grow an audience from an ads-first perspective.
So you have to grow the audience on VC money and then you can start bringing in the advertisers. And hopefully the revenue from advertisers is greater than the cost of running the service and that's what you call a profit. It's very very different in the more traditional, sell software to businesses world, where you're delivering very very obvious value on a monthly basis.
So you just need to find a price point that proves that out. So that's why we started charging too. The flip side and probably the general thrust of your question is, so why did we start raising? I think as I said at the start, we've bitten off a large amount of software and to maintain it all and grow it all to a point where it can deliver on its full value and its full profit requires a lot of people or a lot of time.
Generally speaking you can reduce the amount of time it takes to do something by bringing in some more people. Now at this point people will usually guffaw and point me to various different software laws. Versions of, nine people can't make a baby in a month.
But it is true when you're trying to produce software for sales, marketing and support that if you can have a team working in harmony, all with a shared vision and a shared mission, that you can actually build more than one piece of software at a time. I don't think anyone should really contest that.
I think the piece where it goes from there is like, we obviously could have bootstrapped Intercom off the revenue. It just would have taken a lot longer, a lot, lot longer. And sitting here in 2018 I still I can't imagine a world where the company would be in the same position had we chosen to take that route.
The competitive landscape typically heats up, there's a lot of fragmentation in the marketing technology space once somebody hits on to a good idea. In general your ability to move fast is important. In all but a few circumstances, if you're running a good company, you can move fast with more people. Presuming you can have good distinction of functions and roles, you can generally speed up.
So it came down to a case of, how much software do we want to build? How quickly do we think we can get it done? And do we think that more people will help us get it done quicker? And in all cases we felt the answer was yes. So we made the decision in 2012 to raise $1 Million and from that point we went from just four founders to being, I think, a team of 12 people. And we found we had really caught fire, people were really starting to get into the product.
We had started charging, revenue was starting to come in. We really felt like the limiting factor on everything was just, how quickly can we produce the rest of the software that we need to produce to satisfy our current customers and potentially expand into new areas? And every single time that's been our situation we have been like, right, we know that there's a lot more software to build. We know that we're very good at building software. That might sound arrogant but I guess that's just self confidence in this exact case.
And it would seem a logical thing that if we could get cash, we could turn that cash into product. And we could turn that product into cash, in such a way that would be kind of ROI positive. So we figured we should do that. I think a general point people often make is, you should have been, you should run it off revenue alone. But I think that that's kind of a nonsense argument in that the very second you sit down with your fingers on the keyboard to write the first line of your next product, you're inherently in the red from a time perspective already, you're already losing money by the fact that you started working on something.
Everyone's familiar with the idea that you're not profitable from day one. It might take time to actually realize the true value of what you've created. In that world fundraising is just a financial decision you make to fuel the product development and there's loads of ways to fuel a product development and that's just one of them. I think people over index on the decision made and on the path. I think there are so many good examples of great companies that have raised money, take Shopify or New Relic or ZenDesk or HubSpot or you name it, gosh, Campaign Monitor. There's plenty of track records of people who played out this path and played it out well. That's kind of how we see it.
Let's talk about your role at Intercom for a little bit. You are the Chief Strategy Officer. Out of the four co-founders of Intercom, why were you the one to get that role? And what exactly does it entail?
It's an abstract title to kind of reflect the diverse workload. So at various times at Intercom, I started off working in Product. Then I moved on to set up Customer Support and I helped set up People Operations, help set up Recruiting in our Dublin office, then I moved on to Marketing. Post Marketing I moved back to Product which is where I work now.
The option was I could change my title every 9 to 12 months or I could just agree that I'll work on the areas where I think I can inform, guide or occasionally create the strategy. And as a result Chief Strategy Officer is where we settled in terms of a position. It's probably not 100% accurate at any given point, but it's more accurate than the constant chopping and changing. Which would make for a messy LinkedIn, which is, let's be honest what all care about here. No, but I'm joking. So that was the reason behind the title.
Why were you suited to be the Chief Strategy Officer? As opposed to your partners, who I assume are sticking with more traditional roles for longer periods of time.
Yeah, fair point, so Eoghan was always our CEO and Eoghan was the CEO of our previous business. It's always been like that and that's always been the working relationship I've had with Eoghan. Ciaran was our CTO and Ciaran is still our CTO. He was an engineer, I'm not an engineer. And David Barrett was our lead front-end developer.
So Intercom was two very obvious halves. There's the messenger that you see on everyone else's site. And then there's the back-end where you go and control everything and talk to users and all this other stuff. Broadly speaking, in the early days the messenger and everything you see on the front-end was controlled by David and the back-end was controlled entirely by Ciaran and my job was honestly, I was talking to customers every day. I was trying to get us more customers, taking feedback from the beta.
We didn't really have titles at the very start because it actually didn't matter. Who were we talking to such that the titles would matter? As we moved through the gears of forming a company it became clearer to define roles and responsibilities. I guess it's fair to say when we looked around everyone had a role, except for me. I had multiple bits of roles and loads of things I could contribute to.
The only sort of unifying thing we could probably point to, as I said, was some sense of strategic involvement or making sure that we have a strategy. Or if there is a strategy, making sure that it has all the context and information and input that it needs from all parts of the company. That's kind of how we settled on me. It probably roughly matches my skill set but yeah, that was how it started.
Let's talk about those early days before you guys had titles. I've heard you describe them as you guys sitting down and contacting customers one at a time, trying as hard as you could to convince them to sign up for Intercom and use it and eventually become paying customers.
And a lot of people listening in are at a similar phase with their business where they don't really have any paying customers. They're trying to get their first customers in the door. Do you remember any specifics about what that process was like for you guys and what you learned as a result?
Oh, yeah. I remember all the specifics. That was like, they were the hard days. We had a list of people who we knew through the industry. And Garrett Dimon would have been amongst them, people who had reasonably popular products.
Our attitude was they all need to use Intercom. Every day I would go to work and I pick five or ten of them and I'd write a very personal email saying, "Hey big fan of your tool. I love project management the way you do it, as well over here. We used to use your product in this case. I'm working on tool called Intercom. It's going to connect you with your customers. Here's what it would look in your product. Here's what your user list would look like. Here's what you'll see when you log into Intercom".
This is all one long flowing email, very very bespoke to each individual. And all I was ever looking for was either, a customer or good feedback on what I could do right for the next customer. And we had to win them over one, by one, by one, genuinely. 10 customers a day was kind of our goal but because I was in Dublin and most of our customers are in San Francisco, you'd generally find out throughout the evening. So I'd be maybe, awake until 2 a.m, making sure no customer was left behind.
Genuinely, I would jump on Skype calls at 2 or 3 a.m if there was any confusion. So would Ciaran our CTO, he had to manually onboard people where anything was atypical. We would do whatever the hell it took to get people up and running because we needed to learn. And it's hard to design, say for example, a good onboarding experience until you know exactly what people are trying to do or are trying to achieve. Then you can start to tailor it, you can start to then automate pieces of what you're doing as a human.
The experiences was like, every day I would read my email and it'll be six slaps in the face. Which would look like, "no not now" or "can't see the point" or "I could build this myself in a weekend". I remember that particular customer who was so confident they could build it in a weekend, I was like, right yeah! I often think about mailing them now, but I'm not that bitter, although I do remember it.
You read all sorts of stuff and I've said this before but I think this is necessary. I have friends who are starting companies these days and one of the biggest fears I have for them is that Intercom maybe didn't teach them everything that it could have because the gritty work is so important and so relentless. But also it's important beyond just, that's how you win a customer. I think it's really valuable to actually taste the pain of defeat and be fueled by the fire of success.
Whenever someone was like, you know what, I'll give it a try, I knew the very second I could get them looking at their active user list I was like, you're over the line now. You'd pay $100 a month for us now you've seen the value. So my whole job was just getting them from a first email where they either had never heard from me or hadn't heard from me in quite a while, to the point of them seeing their user list. I really took it as, I felt I was almost being altruistic because I knew if I got them there, they'd absolutely love it.
So I would do whatever it took. I remember I had them one customer who was in Hyderabad in India and they basically they were all set. There was a company of 18 people and they were like "Okay, look Des, I'm sold but I need you to sell our CTO, our CIO and the VP Eng, can you jump on a call?". I think someone innocuously said 10:00 p.m but it turned out it was actually a be 4:30 a.m for me.
So I went home thinking, yep I'll set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. Then I woke up in a cold sweat and panic at 3:30 a.m realizing I haven't brought my laptop home. So I had to jump into my car and speed, literally speed, break every law the Irish roads have ever fucking known, to get to the office to jump on this call at the last second. Just to walk these people through an Intercom experience and they signed up. And not only did they sign up, one of them left the company two months later and joined what went on to become a hundred million dollar company in India and they became a customer.
Of course when they became a customer a lot of other people started to see us on their website or in their product and then it fuelled this whole new wave of people going, wow, what is this thing, Intercom? Today I mean, it's totally over indexing here to say this, but today we have a lot of customers in Hyderabad India. And I can't say that was all Des but I'd say that when you plant those seeds, you're maximizing your opportunity.
As another example, I think roundabout midnight was the right time for New Zealand where there's this incubator, I think it's called Lightning or something like that. I used to give them a webinar every quarter on why they should all use Intercom in their startups. A few of them went on to become very big, very successful New Zealand startups and who are wildly large Intercom spending customers now.
I figured it wasn't going to be easy. It was going to require a lot of the things that don't scale but they all worked. We probably planted the thousand seeds and maybe only 500 trees grew but that's a lot of trees and it turned out to be a lot of customers for us.
I talk to a lot of founders. Programmers especially, who have this dream that they're going to build an amazing app, an amazing product and then it's just going to sell itself. They're never going to have to hop on the phone, they're never going to have to jump on a webinar. They're never going to have to send a cold email. It's all just going work out on its own.
But then I listened to your story and here you have Intercom, which turned out to obviously be an amazing and useful product for a lot of people. And you still had to put in all of that hard work to get your first customers in the door and really create that groundswell. So hopefully people are listening and when they start their companies, they won't delude themselves into thinking it's smart to try to skip out on doing all this scrappy work of having one-on-one conversations with customers.
I would 100% agree. I also just think it's the feedback loop that you miss as well. It's not even that, I think it's the right thing to do, I think it's the right thing full stop. You get so much feedback from failing on trying to convince people to use your product and listening to why it doesn't resonate. And adopting and getting a better pitch and a better pitch and all of that adds up to better marketing site copy and better introductory emails and better onboarding for users. Because you know what the common pain points are and you can preempt them and speak to them before they occur.
Then also, I've worked with other startups over the last couple years where I've encouraged them to do all of this and it has really helped them fail very quickly. And I think that's just as valuable, as an entrepreneur or as a young founder. Forget young, as a founder, I guess inexperienced is what I meant when I said young. The thing you have, the only thing you have is your time and something that breaks my heart is people who piss away one, two, three years on an idea, scared to bring it to anyone in reality lest they say no.
They don't realize that that decision is also a decision to waste so many of your probably your limited amount of years on this planet. So I think it's necessary as I said earlier to taste that pain of rejection and understand how much of these obstacles are surmountable or how much of them are perpetual. And really it'll help you understand whether or not you have a business worth investing the best years of your life in. And if you do, then magnificent, but if you don't then gosh, you'll be glad you really found out quickly by talking to all these people.
You mentioned that you guys started by charging $50 a month and that for so many reasons that was the wrong price to start at but it was also the right one. What does that mean?
Right decision, I'd say it was wrong price, right decision. So a few different thoughts, one we were running around in circles, we had multiple different ways we could consider charging for Intercom, but we didn't really know which would make sense in which wouldn't. We had never really been faced with this dilemma before and we knew that we'd gotten pricing wrong as most people do, you know pricing's always wrong.
We knew we had got in the quite wrong with our previous business. So we were really hesitant and we wanted to be informed on making this decision as well as we could. So we spoke to Jason and we outlined all the different ways he was thinking about it and we were thinking about it and he stared at our options for a reasonable while and concluded basically, this wasn't his words, but the message was effectively, screw all that. Charge $50 and we'll come back to this problem later.
That to me was at the time was such a breath of fresh air because everything we were about to do sounded messy or complicated and this sounded straightforward. And also I liked the fact that we could just come back to this problem. The core insight in what he said was that pricing will basically always change. Your product is going to get more valuable over time. As a simple example, let's say IndieHackers was not as valuable to post an advert on after you had one podcast, as it is now that you have hundreds.
Intercom was not as good at sending tens of millions of emails in 2011 as it is today. Products get more valuable which means your pricing will probably have to change to reflect the new value and that was the key insight that kind of unlocked our thinking. I said right for now let's just say it's $50, let's just say that's beta pricing and we'll see what happens and we'll come back.
What happened was really interesting. We anticipated we would lose quite a few of our customers, once you start charging. There is this mythical penny gap, the very second you charge anything for a free product you lose so many people. I can't remember what our exact drop-off was but it wasn't as high as we had anticipated. We lost maybe 30% or 20% but what was really shocking to me was the feedback and the feature requests we got totally changed after that fact.
The way I summed this up inside at the time was that, free users want more software and paying users want better software. So all of our free customers wanted us to expand our offering to do more things for free. And all of our paying user who stuck around after, all of them were like, I want to be able to send more in app or I want more types of this or I want to be able to customize how this appears. It wasn't, I want you also to be a reports tool and a survey tool and an analytics tool.
There was a real sort of division. So I think the pieces that made it right were, it unlocked our thinking but also brought us these insights and let us refine our product better for those who are using this in a real business, valuable way.
It's funny going back and looking at the history of your pricing changes with Intercom. I found a thread where there are some complainers who weren't too happy about some of your changes and they were complaining about how the $50 a month plan now was going to include a little message on your widget that would say, powered by Intercom.
This commenter in particular decided that he was going to go off and build his own version of Intercom and I can only assume that he went off and attempted to do that.
I hope they did. There's an interesting piece here in that in general and I think it's probably the worst trade-off you can make if you're starting a business is to roll-your-own anything to save 50 bucks a month. Most businesses, if you're starting off, what do you have? You have time to produce product so that the product can produce money. So why would you instead produce product that can save you money, but still not have you build product?
It's literally the most pathological running-in-circles thing I can imagine early stage startups to do. Yet it's very very common and I've seen this in multiple cases people are like, I'm gonna build my own Buffer because scheduling tweets for $9 a month is a ripoff. I'm like okay, but in what world is spending, even if it is only the allegations you might hear, I'll only take me a weekend to build Intercom. Even if that was true, which it definitely isn't, is that still the best use of a weekend given that it's $50? In what world does that calculus actually add up? I get frustrated by that because it's the most broken trade-off you can make as an early stage startup.
It's almost exclusively programmers who get lured into that trap, which is interesting because as developers we should have more knowledge of how long it takes to build things but I think we get overly confident.
Yeah and you should have some respect for the value of software. That's a different conversation I guess.
So this, powered by Intercom link that you were putting on your widget is interesting to me because it's very clearly a growth and a marketing strategy. How well did that work? And what are some other strategies you tried around the same time to bring in more customers at a higher volume?.
It works well. In general, so we relaunched our messenger in April or March of this year and it's really quite visually distinct and unique from everything else that's out there and it has its own platform. So you can build products on top of the messenger that can sit inside the messenger. So you can, for example IndieHackers could sell a t-shirt inside a conversation with a visitor or something that, right. And it's been very cool but what we find is that people really love the new experiences we're creating which means the powered by thing is even more important because you're like, what the hell is this magic? And they send them through.
Overall I think that was a good decision, the powered by link. If I could do it all again I'd probably go harder on it, as in maybe make it more expensive to get rid of it or something like that. The other strategies we tried at the time, we built a native, tell your friend about Intercom and you'll get a discount, type widget. I think that it's a modest success but not a great success frankly.
One thing that was successful for a while but we recently killed it because it's kind of less relevant, we built a way to share parts of Intercom. So you could share, one of the features Intercom had back in the day was a user map, where you could show and see your users all over the world. And then we built a public version of that where you could basically have a public link. Early stage startups could tweet, we have users in 500 cities across 100 countries.
It would be a beautiful looking map that everyone could tweet and Facebook and Linkedin and that worked because people were like, wow this Intercom thing looks cool. I didn't realize you get this map out of it. We also built ways to share a conversation, publishing email. They were some of the best ways that we found to make Intercom, I would say pseudo-viral.
It's actually some work to send over user data and that was the hardest step to make easy and we tried everything to make that a better throughput step in the funnel. As we evolved and built out our tool we ended up building this tool called an importer, which we built this not for our new customers, but actually for existing customers. Which was a way to say, I have a user base of old customers, how can I slurp them into Intercom? So we built this, it would import a spreadsheet basically.
That's awesome. It's really cool to hear about how you were able to identify these kinks in your funnel, see what's holding you back and then sort of unkink them and unlock literally new levels of growth. I think a lot of early stage founders struggle with this because there are hundreds of options for how you can increase your business's revenue. How you can bring more customers in the door.
As an early stage founder, you don't have that much time, you're pretty constrained on resources. And so it turns into this prioritization issue. We have to figure out what you're going to work on now and what kinds of things can wait until later and you've got to make these decisions with very little information to go on. How did you guys handle making decisions and prioritizing what you're going to work on and the early days of Intercom?
I think there's a few different ways we think about it. One of them, we've always said for any given team where they have a variety of conflicting outcomes, conflicting in the sense that they all need the same developer time, we create a prioritization rule. And the most common one we use is RICE. Which is like, Reach, Impacts, Confidence and Effort.
Reach, which basically says how many people will just will this affect? Will it affect all of our users or just some of our users. Or all of our website visitors or just some. Impact, which is like what do we think, what's the best case scenario out of this? Confidence, how likely is it that we could do this? And then Effort, is this just a week or is this a year? And that's generally how we tend to prioritize. There's a whole blog post, on our blog obviously, about the RICE framework.
The other general, maybe simpler rule we have that we say is a phrase from Hunter Walk. We always just avoid any team ever snacking. We say you can work on stuff that is low effort, high-impact. That generally tends to be low hanging fruit and there tends to be not a lot of it unfortunately. The quick wins if you like. You can work on stuff that's high effort, high-impact. That's the majority of your road map.
You should avoid working on things that are high effort, low impact. That's like when somebody turns around and says, we should rewrite the whole product in erlang for the fun. That generally tends to not achieve anything but just take a lot of time.
Everyone's good at avoiding that however, the thing people aren't good at avoiding is the stuff that's low effort, low impact because it has this weird cyclical justification logic, which is that thing did nothing for us but only took 10 minutes to set up. Then if you interrogate it from the other side you say, why are we spending 10 minutes on this? You're like oh well because it probably won't do anything.
You can piss away a whole week working on things that are low effort, low impact. As in they basically achieve nothing and they don't aggregate, they don't multiply in any real sense. And I think that's always been a sign of a team that's lacking a strategy, is that they default to things that are low effort, low impact.
So we've always avoided that but in general for prioritization of the things we think that will change the trajectory of the company. has always been some version of that Rice framework. That's how we've always thought about it. It has usually served us well. There's obviously a slight of hand in that it implies we can know all of these variables in advance. How many people will this hit, how big will the impact be, how confident are we.
I think it forces the kind of hard trade-offs that you need to have such that you don't just work on the easiest thing first. Which is the bias a lot of teams will have or you might work on the things that get you the quickest results the soonest. The only other piece of advice I have there is a lot of early stage startups tend to look up the market. Like oh Amazon changed this button color and it got them an extra hundred million dollars in revenue. I think in general as a startup, especially in the earlier years you're probably dealing with website traffic in the thousands or maybe even hundreds if you're super early stage.
Then if you look at the magnitude of the changes that people tend to look at, they are like, let's try a red button instead of a green button. The reality is there will be a difference between red and green or between buy now or buy for free. Whatever copy tweaks you want to try but it's going to be a really small difference. And because it's a really small difference on a really low traffic website it could take months, maybe years to actually reach statistical significance.
And I think it's such a mis-allocation of resources to look for these tiny infinitesimal incremental little bits and pieces of wins, when you're actually staring death in the face, which is actually what most startups are doing. I think you need to kind of play for a bigger things and I'd encourage people to be like, let's go for something that's going to be hard to achieve but if we do achieve it, it'll be a lot bigger.
Versus, let's iterate to the perfect version of a website home page. The sad reality is if your product is any good, your home page conversion is going to be somewhere between 0% and 3% and getting from 2.1% to 2.3% isn't going to be the thing that makes you successful. It's either going to be the amount of revenue that people are paying you or the amount of web visitors you are getting to your site.
They are the variables actually your really have to play with. The conversion stuff is all optimization. So when you look up market and you see that Facebook have tweaked their button colors or they've played with some copy and you try to borrow that idea and bring it on to your own business. It's like putting on somebody's glasses and thinking they're going to help you see straight. It doesn't make sense.
That's one of the ideas behind IndieHackers itself. People end up copying these behemoths. They end up copying what they see Amazon doing, what they see Google doing because they don't know that these companies looked very different when they were small. They don't have any insight into what smaller businesses are doing to grow because they don't have any examples to look at. And that's hopefully a problem that IndieHackers is helping to solve.
Let's talk about the opposite problem. What are some things you think founders wait too long to do, that they should be doing earlier in their businesses?
I would say, in no particular order, I think take your brand more seriously than you are today because it does have the potential to be something of a moat for you. But also you can't grow it in three years time.
You have to start growing it now and that might mean, maybe it's how you advertise, maybe it's how you blog or podcast or maybe it's what your site looks like or what your logo is. Or even what your company is called or how you communicate or your tone of voice or your newsletter.
Take it seriously, it's an area of investment that only pays off over the long term. But when it does pay off, it's so valuable. So I get asked all the time, versions of, how can we have a blog like Intercom's. And the answer is go back seven years and start writing a post. I wrote 92 of the first 100 posts on the Intercom blog. I tried to write three a week. That was what I did.
It was just this consistent stream, it was part of my job along with email and customers. It's just you have to take it seriously from the start. I'm not just talking about the blog here, I'm talking about your whole brand. So I think it's not something that can come later. So that's one area where I think it's really really hard to work out exactly how much damage you do to yourself when you just really just screw this up. It's really really important and if you think of any of the the truly iconic breakout tech startups of this generation, they actually have a well-considered brand and it's not an accident. So that's one area.
Another obvious area I would say is people don't think about pricing enough. There is still too much of a temptation to stick a $9 price tag on something and think that if I make it really cheap then everyone will buy on the grounds of, screw it, why not? It's only $9, type attitude. I think you really need to understand the basics of value-based pricing, understand that your price needs to be higher than the coffee round on your developer team, which is one good acid test I often use.
Understand that your pricing needs to change and evolve. Understand that over time you're going to basically make your product better and better and if you don't have ways to capture that value, you're gonna struggle. Your developers aren't getting any cheaper and the team size generally only gets bigger. So if your average revenue per account is flatlining at $9 a month, you're really going to struggle unless you're Spotify and the captive market is the entire world, but P.S you're not Spotify.
So you guys don't share your revenue numbers today I don't believe but you have shared revenue numbers in the past. What's the most recent number that you've shared?
In January of last year, is that right? Yeah, last year we shared that we were at $50 million dollars in annual recurring revenue and that we had gone from $1 million dollars in ARR to $50 million in three years.
Yeah, that's super quick. It's obviously a lot of money as well. I think it's interesting because the bigger you get the fewer peers and role models you have to learn from. Is there any particular playbook that doesn't exist that you really wish had existed while you were building Intercom?
Oh yeah. Anywhere I felt that I had ventured outside my own ability or my own experience I think I've made mistakes. So when I worked in marketing, I made a lot of mistakes. I didn't understand enough about marketing and in general like a lot of your listeners who will face this challenge in the future, when you go to start building your marketing team, you're probably going to screw up.
There aren't many great playbooks out there because honestly speaking there aren't many great non-conumser tech companies that are particularly good at marketing. You will make a lot of mistakes and it will be hard and if there was a playbook, I think it would be useful. In general I tend to be ever so slightly cynical of the idea that there's a playbook, as in there is one specific way that will work for everyone.
For sure if there was good war stories or case studies on how this or that startup brought in marketing and it was a success. I would have loved to have read them two, three years ago. Honestly I'd still like to be able to read them now, but it's more out of a morbid curiosity at this point because we've brought in a CMO and things are getting better for us.
Then on the other side, same with sales, right? I never even knew anything about sales. We have an awesome sales leader today, I've learned so much from her. We didn't know what we were doing at the start or at least I certainly didn't, I speak for myself. It was all new stuff, I had no idea how any of this worked and there are people out there that do. There's not really a great way that's like, so you have a successful B2B startup, here's how to add sales to the mix.
If somebody had published that playbook I certainly would have loved to have read it a long time ago as well. You're totally correct, as the business scales the number of relevant and resonant examples that you can look to get thinner and thinner and that's just the nature of growing up though I think.
What would you put in a sales or marketing playbook for a super early stage founder who doesn't really have that much experience herself yet?
I would probably advise her, in the marketing world there's a lot of homework you need to do to understand it. Here's how naive I was, I thought marketing was one team. Marketing in most companies is between 7 and 10 teams. You're talking about product marketing, product education, demand generation, content marketing, PR and communications. You're talking about brand design, partnerships, resellers and all of these. And I've forgotten a team that's already in Intercom at this stage, marketing ops would be one, life cycle marketing.
Understanding that there's a lot going on in marketing that you have never thought about or have the first clue about is the first step. I'd advise any young founder to think about it. Secondly, a lot of people think of marketing from the proverbial funnel, where on the left you have your sources of demand and on the right you have your happy customer. A lot of people think about marketing from the outside in. They're like, all right we've got the product let's start buying ads. I think that's really not a great way to do things.
I would always advise people to go the other direction, have you really got the product? Is your churn and your retention metrics good? Are you happy that your revenue expands when a customer sticks around for years versus shrinks. Then I'd be okay, let's look at your product marketing. Is the product well positioned in the market? Do people know what it is, do people understand it? Yes, great wonderful.
Have we reflected all of that on our product marketing website? Do you carry the brand promise? Then is the connection between the website where somebody wants to sign up and the product itself where somebody is successful, is that connection smooth? Have you worked on your funnel? And when you get all that right, then you can take a step back and be like now that we're pretty sure we have a good system here, how do we work out how to reach different people in the industry?
So everyone's first move in a B2B world is just now we go to content marketing, right? And it doesn't always work. As an example I have a friend who runs their website where they build software for dentists and her first move was content marketing and it wasn't working. Do you know why it wasn't working? Actually it turns out dentists don't read tech blogs.
Shock horror, right? I think you have to match your channel to your audience. I could go further and say what type of adverts would work, maybe you need to be at a dentistry conferences because maybe they don't even look at ads online at all. Maybe there's no easy way to retarget a dentist. You have to pick your channel to choose your battle if you like.
So what I'd say to any young founder is, draw your funnel where on one end you've got a happy customer paying you a lot of money and on the other end you have somebody who's never ever heard of you but is in your target market. And then starting over at the happy customer, work backwards. And that's a much more efficient way to make sure you don't piss away all of your money on ads or blog posts or articles or paid media placements, driving traffic to an ineffective website or maybe the website's brilliant, but they all get in and they all churn out on month one.
You have to go out the other direction. That's probably the biggest piece of advice I'd give someone in marketing. As I said, it's taken me seven years to get there.
So much good advice in all of these areas. And one of the challenges of being a founder is even when good advice hits you square between the eyes, sometimes you're just not in the right position to internalize it, you don't really understand it or other things seem more urgent so you don't follow it. Is there any advice that you yourself have found that you've gotten over and over, over the years but it took you a while to really start capitalizing on it?
All of the truisms are in focus and all of that shit is definitely true but there's not a lot of deep insight there. The stuff where it's really easy to get unfocused or to take your eye off the ball as it were, is the importance of really knowing your customer. I think a lot of businesses once they hit any sort of initial traction they think, right, got it. The product is ready. Now we just need to work on everything else and they stop connecting with their customers not realizing that at any given point there are tectonic shifts in the industry that changes what is and isn't possible.
In our world that tends to be things like AI, ML, or chat bots or augmentation of human intelligence or you name it, right? These are trends that happen with or without us that we need to be aware of and bake it. Also your customers change because you start moving upmarket and you start moving into more verticals and as a result, in your head you still have these perfectly happy customers that you last spoke with two and half years ago, but that might not be the reality.
So I think in general I've always found I've been shocked at the amount of times I have had to remind myself, you need to go and talk to customers again. And honestly I think that's the piece where everyone who's listening to this and nodding their heads and saying, damn right Traynor. I can't believe you forgot to do that. I guarantee you they haven't talked to their customers in a couple of weeks.
This is not a sales pitch for Intercom but Intercom is one of the ways that will unlock a bit of that. I myself definitely have made this mistake far too many times, an embarrassing number of times. I've let it go three, four or five months without talking to a single customer, hearing the pain and hearing the joy and having this shocking depression of having an extreme empathy for what they're trying to do combined with an extreme optimism of knowing it's possible but somehow we're not doing it.
Also getting fueled by the passion and joy when people come up and high-five me at a conference and they say "Yo, your tool is rocking, it's the reason we were able to grow our business". You need to stay in that emotional cycle of knowing things need to get better but also knowing that you're doing a lot of good in the world with what you have. And your customers are your greatest source of both of those highs and lows,
I think it's also difficult for people to follow advice when they don't see what the immediate return will be. If you fix a bug, you say okay well now people stop complaining about this bug, that feels great. If you add a feature you say, well now people stop asking for this feature. That's great. But if you're working on marketing your brand...
...as an early stage founder. It's like well, when is this really going to pay off? you're talking to customers, you think well, I've learned a few things here, but when is this actually going to result in something tangible? How do you strike that balance as a founder? Especially if you're in the early phases. You might be out of business in six months if you don't handle some of the more urgent issues.
Yeah the way I think about your early years, at Intercom we're pretty confident we'll be around next quarter however in the early days that wasn't guaranteed. I think you basically have a list, you have to blend the things we need to do to stay alive with the things we need to do, such that if we are alive we're in a good place.
I liken this to growing up in a sense. The stuff you need to do to make sure you grow but then also if you do grow up, you want to make sure you still have a good life when you get there. For us it was winning customers, getting revenue, making the business actually work, making the product good. They're all things with a short to maybe midterm payoff, but the question you have to ask yourself is what's it all for?
If you get there, you're just running on a treadmill if things haven't gotten better and stronger. You won't become a better business simply by doing exactly what you did this year and next year. You need to be adding more to your capacity. Whether that is growing your brand or growing your influence or making your users happier or increasing your NPS or growing your revenue or something.
This isn't the sort of manic grow-at-all-costs pitch, but it's like strengthen yourself at all costs. It's a hard one to blend the short term with the long-term and people struggle with it, this is a real-life concern too. There are things that are fun to do in the short term but bad ideas in the long term. Whether it's alcohol or drugs or whatever.
I think a business version of those things is like cheap hacky growth hacks that will get me an extra boost of endorphins this month versus things that won't necessarily pay off this month but in a years time we're going to look back and we're going to be like, shit, look at how all this has added up.
As an example of that strategy people will often again go back to the content marketing piece. We would write blog posts with the idea that they should be relevant for years not for weeks or days. So we just didn't cover tech news. We're not writing about scooters in San Francisco on our blog right now, we didn't write about gamification in 2011 when it was hot shit.
We've always tried to have this long-term horizon. With just enough knowledge that we also need to stay alive to get there and that's kind of reflected in how we trade off these priorities against each other. If we ever felt that death was getting a little bit too close or the wolves are at the door then yeah, we'd have to sacrifice some of the long-term thinking to make sure we'd get ourselves out of the mix.
What that realistically would look in Intercom terms would be like, hey the performance of the product is degraded, we need to take engineers off new features to have them work on performance or whatever. That would be the example of the long-term, short-term trade offs that we have to make frequently just to make sure that we stay alive.
It's about understanding the types of risks that you're up against and as I said, just always keeping an eye on if we get to month six of this business do we want to be exactly where we are today, treading water? Or do we want to have actually created something that is a new asset that we didn't have six months ago? I'd always choose the latter if you actually really want to have a sustainable business because otherwise it's just too manic what you have to do to keep going.
You guys are now seven years into running Intercom and I'm sure you've hit at least some parts of the vision and some of the goals that you set for yourself early on. What does the future look like?
I mean we have a big strong idea that we want to change the way every person talks to every Internet business. We want to change the very nature of what it means to transact online and we believe that all businesses will become web businesses. We want to be the way in which web businesses or Internet businesses connect with their customers.
So we're not in any way, from a product development point of view, we're not even close to being complete. We have to hit every business, we have to hit every type of conversation people have, we have to get every channel people talk through. And we have to observe all these tectonic shifts that happen along the way and make sure that we stay relevant through each of them.
So there's a long road to go there to become what we think we can be, which is think of it like this, imagine if Salesforce was built for Internet businesses. Maybe that's the order of magnitude that we're thinking about achieving but I say that more from an actual net impact on how businesses is done more so than anything to do with Salesforce's head count or valuation or anything like that.
That really is what we're playing for. We take that very seriously. We're very intently determined to give this our absolute best. Should we fail, I'm okay with if we fall short, as you said we've clearly gotten some point of success already. The piece I'd never be okay with is not giving it our absolute best because I think the opportunity is there. I think the mission matters. I think the vision is real and we've a long way to go. So when I hang up this call I'll be going straight back to my desk and getting back to it.
Well best of luck Des. Thanks so much for coming on the show. Can you tell listeners where they can go to find out more about Intercom and about what you're up to you personally?
Sure, Intercom is just at Intercom.com and you'll find us. Our blog is there, it's at blog.intercom.com and also our books and our starter guides and our book on getting started specifically, which is all about starting up. It's called Intercom On Starting Up. Really original name. You can find all of that there and my name is Des Traynor. It's Des Traynor and I'm on Twitter as @DesTraynor and basically every single network you can imagine that as Des Traynor and it's just [email protected] if anyone ever wanted to talk.
All right. Thanks so much Des.
Thank you Courtland.
If you enjoyed listening to this conversation and you want a really easy way to support the podcast, why don't you head over to iTunes and leave us a quick rating or even a review? If you're looking for an easy way to get there just go to IndieHackers.com/review and that should open up iTunes on your computer.
I read pretty much all the reviews that you guys leave over there. And it really helps other people to discover the show so your support is very much appreciated.
In addition if you are running your own Internet business or if that's something you hope to do someday you should join me and a whole bunch of other founders on the IndieHackers website. It's a great place to get feedback on pretty much any problem or question that you might have while running your business.
If you listen to the show, you know that I am a huge proponent of getting help from other founders rather than trying to build your business all by yourself, so you'll see me on the forum for sure as well as more than a handful of some of the guests that I've had in the podcast.
If you're looking for inspiration we've also got a huge directory full of hundreds of products built by other IndieHackers every one of which includes revenue numbers and some of the behind-the-scenes strategies for how they grew their products from nothing. As always thanks so much for listening and I'll see you next time.
Did you know Indie Hackers has a newsletter?
Sign up to get insights, takeaways, and exclusive content from each new episode, directly from the host, Courtland Allen.