Building in the open

Sojan V Jose

Sojan V Jose

Published on

2 minute read

The story of a failed startup that turned into a trending open-source project.

We released Chatwoot on Hackernews and remained in the top 15 for over a day. A dream start for our small team right? But what happened over the last few days surely wasn’t an overnight success. Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing our journey so far,  where we are headed and everything in the middle.

In a nutshell

Chatwoot is a customer support tool for instant messaging channels which can help businesses to provide exceptional customer support.

This was Chatwoot’s tagline when we first released it in 2017. At the time, Chatwoot was a Rails application in a private repo, built by 4 friends - all software engineers, with no prior marketing or sales experience. We hacked on the product during our free time, integrated different channels, talked to multiple prospects, but never made a single cent. And, like most startups, Chatwoot failed. We closed shop.

Fast forward 2019. We decided, instead of letting the code rust in a private repo, why not make the project open source?

The decision was made during the #hacktoberfest 2019 and we were in for a pleasant surprise. Chatwoot attracted contributions from over 30 countries around the world. It became a trending project on HN, with our git repo gaining over 1000+ stars in 2 days and best of all, got a lot of love from the community.

Now, a failed project is back on track and the prospects are looking great. Our team is back to actively working on the project. We are building it in the open and getting a lot of ideas and contributions from the community.

What’s next

It’s still early days for Chatwoot, but what's transpired over the last couple of weeks has made us feel more responsible towards this project and the community that showed us this love.

We will be pledging more time to Chatwoot. We will be working with the community to build an open alternative to software behemoth who sells overpriced bloated software. While doing this we might fail or succeed, but guaranteed that we will do it together.

And for sure we will have a story to share.