The initial team of Chatwoot (Pranav, Nithin, Subin & Manoj) was passionate about building products and was trying out different ideas. They came across the idea of having a support tool for social media. Having worked with FreshWorks before, the idea sparked an interest. The team decided to give it a try, and Chatwoot.com was registered.
The team started building the product during weekends, hacked together an MVP, and shared it with many people. The initial feedback was excellent. People liked the product.
However, one thing was clear all along. We couldn't reduce the churn from the product. One of the reasons for that was that most people needed a full suite of products rather than a support tool. There was a lot to build. At the same time, there were not enough positives happening to keep up the motivation. The motivation to build the product died pretty quickly, and we had to shut the shop by the end of 2017.
With the introduction of data privacy regulations like GDPR, the need for self-hosted alternatives were on the rise. There was a lot of interest in the open-source version of Intercom & Zendesk. Pranav & Nithin decided to add a live chat feature to the existing codebase and release it as an open-source project. Sojan also joined in the mission to build an open-source product. As a result, Chatwoot was open-sourced on Aug 14, 2019. Chatwoot saw interest from developers all over the world.
Pranav decided to take it to HackerNews, and to his surprise, the post got a fantastic response from the HN community.
There was a lot of feedback, and features requests post HN launch. The team decided to have monthly releases. With a consistent development cycle and proper feedback from the community, a stable version of Chatwoot was launched in July 2020.
Following the interest and the opportunity to build a business around the project, Chatwoot Inc was officially incorporated in Delaware, USA.
During the end of 2020, the team decided to apply to YCombinator and was accepted. The team went through the all remote W21 batch from January to March 2021.