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Why you shouldn’t build a bot on just one platform

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I keep seing “botentrepreneurs” whose companies can be defined in two words “Slack bot”. If you’re going to build on top of other platforms to start with, you should be conscious you’re potentially starting with a handicap.

Why make that handicap worse by overfitting your entire product and user experience on one platform?

Of course, when I debate this with my bot founders friends, their main argument is that you should start niche. And that starting off with THE most popular enterprise messaging platform in SF (hello early adopters), can’t be a bad choice! And that’s a fair point.

Starting niche is a proven success recipe for startups

Unfortunately the strategy that worked in the mobile apps world: “start with iOS and then if success is reached spend time on Android” isn’t applicable to the nascent bot economy. There are strings attached, and many entrepreneur fail to anticipate the long term implications of such early choices. If you’re starting with one platform, don’t be surprised to be labelled “a Facebook bot for gifs” / “a Slack bot for sales teams”. See the difference between being called that and being called “an AI powered virtual assistant”?

It boils down to your long term vision as an entrepreneur.

Short term vision is distastefully predominant these days. Trump’s “Blitz” cost cutting measures may ensue a decrease in taxes, but what society is this creating if you look at the bigger picture?

You can choose to cut corners with your bot. We all have difficult choices to make and it could be your conscious strategy to start with one platform. Many smart entrepreneurs have done so to maximize the benefits from that platform’s support network, PR power, funding opportunities. And in the short term, there’s no doubt it will yield some success. But can you hold the distance?

For those who’ve really gone all the way and branded themselves as a Facebook or Slack bot: be aware that you’ve made a conscious choice to give up your independence early on and you’re now married to a platform whose name will always be used in conjunction to yours. And when you’ll be ready to deploy your bot in new platforms, you may find it difficult to rub off that first association.

You’re not in the market you think you’re in. You’re in the market your users think you’re in.

Allow yourself to have a bold vision from day one, and think global. Start with one platform but quickly grow to be platform agnostic and create custom user experiences for each platform to suit your customers needs.


Why you shouldn’t build a bot on just one platform was originally published in Chatbots Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: Chatbots Magazine

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