Deepika from Team Alore spoke to David Feng, co-founder and Head of product at Re:amaze
Alore: David, can you tell us about Re:amaze?
David Feng: Re:amaze is a help-desk and customer messaging platform designed to help businesses of all shapes and sizes to support, engage, and convert customers. We currently work with many SaaS and e-commerce customers helping them with shared inboxes, live chat, automated messaging, customer tracking, and FAQs.
We’re a SaaS based business with a monthly subscription model although we also offer annual pricing for selective customers.
Alore: How did you envision Re:amaze?
David Feng: Back in 2012, we originally designed Re:amaze to be more of an analytics platform. We aimed to help business owners with customer intelligence through tracking and analyzing customer lifecycle metrics. After speaking with the co-founders of some of our early adopters such as Stripe, WePay, Printful and TopHatter, we received unanimous sentiment that while customer intelligence is a great need, most wanted very customised solutions with heavy in-house components. Whereas we wanted to build software that was simple (short sales cycle) with a single purpose (easy to implement).
What customers needed more help with was managing their customer conversations proactively. While the default choice back then was Zendesk, many didn’t feel it was the right platform for customer engagement. We huddled as a team and decided to pivot Re:amaze’s core offerings. Helpdesk with multi-channel support became a priority.
Live chat was next added to augment more ways for customers to talk to businesses and vice versa. We then moved on to proactive features such as automated messaging and live monitoring. As a platform, Re:amaze can now holistically help businesses with both inbound and outbound customer conversations in real time.
Alore: As a business what is unique about Re:amaze?
David Feng: Re:amaze is in a unique position to help businesses who want a platform like Intercom (but does not want to pay an arm and a leg) but also a true, full-featured helpdesk with exceptional conversation management capabilities. We also designed Re:amaze to be also truly different from Zendesk, a traditional ticketing system where customer service is treated as a cost-center. Re:amaze helps businesses understand that a helpdesk can be a valuable asset in revenue growth and in bolstering customer loyalty.
Alore: Re:amaze provides companies ways to converse with customers seamlessly via a number of tools. How much of technical knowledge must a company have to use your tools?
Alore: Can a customer start a conversation on one channel and then move to another? (e.g. I start a conversation via Messenger and get a follow-up from SMS?)
David Feng: Yes absolutely. Re:amaze offers a simple CRM system to help businesses manage customer profiles, data, and conversation histories. If a customer messages from Messenger, the business owner can easily find the customer’s other identities and message them back from another channel. This allows business owners to stay in touch with the customer regardless of channel.
Alore: Re:amaze is using technology as its foundation. Is one of the co-founders from a tech background or did you have to build this competency anew?
David Feng: Re:amaze was started by 3 co-founders, 2 of which are technical founders from Stanford and UC Berkeley with backgrounds in computer science, database specialisation, and machine learning. I myself am a non-technical founder with background in economics and international policy and management from Middlebury and UC Irvine.
Alore: What has been the biggest challenge in your journey with Re:amaze so far?
David Feng: Our biggest challenge so far has been scale. We’ve grown quite rapidly in the past few years and it has always been a challenge to keep our tech stack ahead of the curve. As with most SaaS businesses, this is a great problem to have but also a problem we need to recognise and solve on a daily basis. Businesses that rely on Re:amaze require us to be reliable with near-perfect up-time. We currently deliver up-time of around 99.9% but we’re always striving to do better.
Alore: What has been your biggest learning since you started Re:amaze?
David Feng: Our biggest learning so far has been to how to listen (really listen) to our customers in order to compete effectively with well-known industry giants like Zendesk or Intercom. Re:amaze is a small team, we’re only about 12 people right now and we’re serving a massive market with tools that many love. In terms of funding, manpower, capability, we’re simply “outgunned and outmanned”. This is why we are very intentional and strategic with what we build, how we build, what tools we choose to use, how to market, and how to most efficiently acquire new customers. The strategies we use are distillations of many customer conversations and feedback sessions.
Alore: What were/are your three key focus areas to achieve a good product market fit?
David Feng: The 3 areas we focus on most are 1) the customer experience 2) the agent experience and 3) messaging capabilities. These 3 areas ensure our platform is not only competitive in the market but is also well received by businesses and their customers.
Alore: How did you go about promoting Re:amaze in the nascent stages?
David Feng: I think the question should be what we didn’t do to promote Re:amaze in the nascent stages. We did everything any startup would do to build the first MVP, to acquire our first customers, to iterate on designs, and to convert our first customer. We called up business founders, sent cold emails, worked LinkedIn, ProductHunt, social media, wrote content, crawled forums, participated in Slack channels, and promoted sub-reddits. We did paid-advertising, co-marketing, built integrations, built out distribution channels, and much more.
Alore: What is your productivity mantra? (How do you maximise your day? – Any apps, tools, planning tips you use and would share?)
David Feng: Our mantra is one that we use on our homepage and we take it to heart: Better Conversations. Happier Customers. It’s something we’d share with every business owner if we could. Better conversations are a catalyst for lots of great initiatives. They trickle down to every aspect of your business. By making your business and personnel better at creating and sustaining better conversations, you make happier customers. Even when you can’t deliver exactly what a customer is looking for, they’ll always remember a great interaction and speak positively of your business and what you’re trying to do.
About David Feng
David is the co-founder and Head of product at two internet companies – Re:amaze and Clearalias. Prior to founding Re:amaze, he worked at TrialPay (acquired by Visa), NativeX (acquired by MobVista), and FusePowered (acquired by UpSight). He is a serial entrepreneur and an alum of UC Irvine and MIIS Monterey. Beyond work he is passionate about food, cars, and hiking
You can reach him here