Our 48hrs Sprint to Market – Slack Hack

It was just another Sunday and our team had huddled together for a casual Skype call to catch up, gossip and crack inane jokes at each other. As a relatively young team we were excited about our recent launch of a new video messaging plugin for Gmail. It’s not uncommon for our casual conversations to turn into serious discussions of politics, business and even what would be Elon Musk’s next big idea. Today’s topic happened to be about Slack and how its users spend an average of 140 minutes per weekday on it.

As avid Slack users ourselves, we wanted to explore the opportunity of bringing video messaging to the platform. We know businesses love Slack — what would be more meaningful than extending our work to the community. Once we recognized opportunity, there is no way we could stay away from it. This thought process started our 48 hours sprint to bring video messaging to Slack!

It was all hands on deck — two teams, two different time zones trying to hack our way to the market. We started by splitting the work into two sections of making the software — app specification and resource allocation. Our aim was to create a platform that was quick, easy to use and cost 1/3 of existing video services. Building your backend is expensive and time-consuming. For reducing cost we had to build using existing video infrastructure in the market. Our other software — XpressMail for Gmail, uses Google Drive for its video storage. Implementing the same logic seemed logical J

That’s when we hit our major snag. Google Drive works great with Gmail, but when implemented for Slack we noticed that once you’ve recorded a message it’s not immediately available on the Drive. In this fast paced world — where instant noodles seem to take too long to cook — which user would wait for their video to be uploaded and shared? The whole purpose of our app is lost if videos are not available instantaneously.

Building our own backend was not an option. We are a bunch of engineers with no institutional funding. There had to be a smarter way to create a low-cost scalable model. A quick brainstorming session and we looked at YouTube — Duh! It is the video sharing platform of video sharing platforms, not sure why we didn’t think of it earlier.

In the end after a couple of sleepless nights, countless Red Bulls, non-stop coding and almost losing our sanity we presented our Video Messaging Platform for Slack. We almost took a path to create our own backend, despite it being expensive, but we found a smart work around for it.

It’s been two days, my team is tired and just after launching we received a feature request from our users. But we’ve run out of our body’s capacity to process any more Red Bull. Slack for Xpress is currently available on the Slack App Directory for everyone to use.

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