So Helpchat is not about chat anymore..
And Ankur has shared a few learnings. The primary one being :
The number of taps required to get anything done was just way too many, no matter what you do. People often confuse the debate with bots, AI etc. but does it really make sense to chat to get a cab when you can simply tap once and book (no matter what you think, our user data was very obvious on this. The answer is no.)
But the problem lies somewhere else. And am not sure whether the team is seeing that.
And that's called (IMO) forced metrics which resulted in pushing the product to do things it wasn't supposed to.
Helpchat never got the chat right. But given that they raised $16mn almost a year back, the company has to show traction and user growth.
And when the core wasn't working, they resorted to push things to drive metrics. The easiest one to drive app usage? Well, NEWS.
Yes, they also did News and even were selling tee shirts!
That is, distractions after distractions.
Talking about first principles, I clearly see it missing in the first version (even pointed it out - but the team never even cared to acknowledge it :))
Talking about the second iteration
Well, it's a meta aggregator model.
They are aggregating the aggregators and the risk is simple - right now, they have coupons from all such aggregators. The day these discount coupon dies, there is very little utility of the product.
The team, I am hoping is figuring out a deeper connect with the userbase because currently I can clearly see lack of stickiness in the product.
TLDR; It's not really about the format (chat vs. Yahoo styled portal vs. Craigslist styled dead interface).
It's about solving a pain point and right now, the only pain point Helpchat is solving is of 'everything-in-one-place'.
Which, I believe is a very short term differentiator.