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How to Start a Company Using Slack

06 September 2016

By Sondre Rasch, Konsus Co-Founder

When we launched Konsus.com one year ago, we hadn’t written a single line of code. In 9 months we bootstrapped a business to $100 000 monthly revenue using remote freelancers, participated in Y Combinator, and raised a 1,5 MUSD seed round, from a group of prominent Silicon Valley investors, including the Slack Fund.

10 years ago, I’m pretty sure that what we did would not have been possible.

It helped that 3 billion people had 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.

10 years ago, starting Konsus 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 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.

alt The Konsus team a little over one year ago

Step 1: Install Slack and your 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 other methods of internal communication, like internal e-mail or actually having an office.

Why use Slack?
• Flexible creation of channels, groups and direct messages
• Full transparency and searchable files and messages
• Its look is fantastic

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 that 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, for example because it is a chatbot.

Step 2: Install apps that allow you to focus on your mission

In Konsus we have 47 apps installed on our Slack team. Here are 5 you can go right ahead and install now.

Zapier
What it does: Zapier is like IFTTT for businesses, if you are familiar with that. 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.

Intercom
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.

Asana
What it does: Post tasks and to-do’s to a channel or DM.

What it really does: Delegate the annoying job of following-up yourself or other people to a product.

Notify
What it does: Tells you when on the internet says something about you.

What it really does: Makes you happy that someone with 3 followers is saying something nice about you into the void.

Konsus
What it does: A bot that lets you access top rated freelancers teams on-demand, inside Slack.

What it really does: Allows you to get work done that you don’t have 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.

As any sane team, we try to keep the tools we use in our daily operation inside Slack. As we waded into the waters of building our own platform, we decided that we had to be able to interact with from inside Slack. And so we did.

(It isn’t that hard to get started to play around, here are some links 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:

  1. Posting new projects to relevant freelancers, and deleting them when they were staffed
  2. Creating and deleting project channels, inviting the team
  3. Providing time-relevant instructions and reminders to team-members


    alt

Step 4: Make your own Slack App

At this point we were 4 months post-launch, and had just joined Y Combinator. Having 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

So at this point of the story, I realize our experience is feeling gradually harder.

In a fortunate turn of events, the Slack Fund found what we were doing so interesting, 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 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 Konsus provies 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 much less 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 Konsus and try us out for yourself on our website.

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