Sysop Dev Diary, Part 1: Concept
Okay, step one here is going to be laying out the concept of what this product is going to do and be. At least initially. It's going to be pretty stream of consciousness, so maybe not the best writing I've ever done, but it's mostly to get the ideas out and written down for later reference.
So. In a general sense, Sysop is a platform for micro-businesses to communicate with their end users. I'm going to use the term “customer” to refer to Sysop customers/users, and “end users” to refer to the micro-business's customers.
What does that really entail? Well there's two ways to go. The first is a SaaS-targeted approach, which would put me in a field with companies like Intercom. Customers would likely be individual or very small teams of developers, in a launched or about-to-launch startup company, and would consist of a suite of apps on their end (mobile/desktop/web, probably) that would allow communication with end users, and a widget (likely web at first, then mobile/desktop SDKs) that would integrate with their product and allow the users to reach out. Differentiating factors would be a focus on individualized support, rather than expecting a team of CS people, and a focus on providing support from mobile. This was my initial idea for this project.
A second approach was suggested to me: targeting professional services providers. Lawyers, CPAs, designers, consultants, that kind of thing. It would again consist of an app, probably heavier mobile but web/desktop would still be important here, but there wouldn't really be a good way to get end users onboard. Maybe an end user mobile app and a slim web interface. Competition here is a bit trickier, because while there's plenty of CRM and professional service management platforms out there that can do all kinds of things, the main competition is plain old free email and phone, which I expect is how most of these companies are handling their customer support right now anyway.
The professional services approach has a few positives over the SaaS approach.. It targets companies that are likely already succeeding in general and would have more financial freedom to pay for a service like this. It naturally can segment itself into each field, allowing more specific niche targeting at the edges while maintaining the core product. It has the potential to grow organically into an overall CRM system. The SaaS approach is missing a lot of that; niche segments are possible but “solopreneur” is already pretty nichey anyway. But the big one is that I'm just not sure professional services providers even really need something like this. They already communicate through email and phone, and maintain data through CRMs or niche management platforms or pen and paper, so what does something like this even bring to the table?
And that's why I did this post. To get all this out and make sure I go in the right direction. Maybe the professional services approach would work for a pivot or an additional product down the line, but for now the SaaS approach is the one I want.
Great. What's next?