Daytona: August 2021
3Together Introduces SwellChat!
One of our unique cultural aspects at 3Together is what we call summer hours. We work a four-day workweek June, July, and August and encourage each other to get outside and be in nature, be active, and be healthy. While we have been enjoying our reduced schedule, we have also been very productive over the past several months. In this project update, we’ll share some of our highlights as well as a big announcement at the end of the post!
When we prepare one of these updates, we make a list of what everyone is excited about and what our recent experiences have been. At the top of the list is always the addition of a new team member. This summer we have reconnected with a former colleague, Blair Brown, and we are excited to announce that she has joined 3Together as our product support lead.
What sort of company hires a product support lead before they even have customers? 3Together does! We have been discussing the launch of our first product for months, including launch strategy, timing, the feature list, and how to best support our early users. This kept bringing us back to a desire to have our customer support model in place before we went into a beta phase. Fortunately, Blair and I (Jessica) had recently connected, and as we were sharing our personal updates, it was perfect timing to discuss a possible role for Blair at 3Together.
In our previous post, we mentioned that we had added two senior software engineers to our team. They both have been fantastic, and our pace of development and testing has really picked up over the previous few months. We now feel like we have Project Daytona in a good place to begin a formal, wider rollout. Here are some of the technical and product highlights from our recent progress:
- We designed and built an internal reporting framework for SwellChat and have created the first set of reports. We will be using these reports for our administration of the application, and we have begun to publish a set of reports that our users will be able to run themselves, such as meeting history.
- We have done a lot of work expanding our meeting settings within the application and built a tool that allows users to create default settings for meetings, update all active participants settings while a meeting is in progress (such as turn mute all on and off), and more.
- We’ve completed our Stripe implementation for account creation and payment. We will not be turning this on until we come out of our Founders Club phase; however, we will be using it in the background to allow Founders Club participants to sign up with a coupon for free and to manage their two-year free access period. (What’s Founders Club? Keep reading…you’re almost there!)
- We have integrated our sign-up process with HubSpot, our CRM. When a new account is requested, we record that information in our application and in HubSpot. We will be using HubSpot to manage our customer support processes.
- We created a Help Center to easily manage help topics and content. The timing was great, as it has allowed Blair the ability to rapidly create new help content as we interact with our Founders Club users. (We also think this tool has the potential to help users create their own content and make it available to their customers when using SwellChat. It might even be the seed for our second application.)
- We have been doing both manual and automated load testing of the application. This will be an ongoing effort, so we have created a framework for how we do these tests and respond to any issues that are discovered during the tests. We are learning a lot about our underlying tools and infrastructure and making improvements each week.
- We’ve begun investigating calendar and meeting scheduling integrations.
Which brings us to our big announcement…
3Together is introducing SwellChat, the industry’s first telebenefits platform to connect employees to experts who can help them get the most out of their employee benefits offerings and programs.
When we formed 3Together a little over a year ago, we spent several months discussing what types of products we wanted to create and what industry and area within that industry we wanted to serve first. We observed that while much success has been had delivering self-service applications to allow an employee to make benefits selections and update their personal information, a gap has been created that further separates the employee and the people who designed and delivered the programs, such as the HR and benefits staff, the health insurance brokers, the financial planners, and the many experts who make up the employee benefits industry.
Therefore, we thought we would begin our work by creating a unique, purpose-built application that connects the employee and the experts who can best help them. We felt that a live video and chat session would be an excellent contribution to the effort to provide and protect the employees and their family members.
And so SwellChat was born. We have been diligently working for close to a year now on the product architecture, the frameworks, the foundation, and the necessary elements of a well-rounded telebenefits platform.
SwellChat puts the people back into the benefits experience. So much has been stripped out of the benefits communication and support process in the name of automation and cost reduction that we feel it may have gone too far. The proverbial baby has been thrown out with the bath water. We love the convenience of going online and selecting our own benefits and updating our family information when needed. However, many people feel removed from the very experts and professionals who put so much hard work and love into designing the programs meant to help. Enter SwellChat.
We discussed many strategies for introducing SwellChat and settled on a concept we are calling the SwellChat Founders Club. Some of our friends and professional acquaintances have been using SwellChat for the past few months—and of course we use it ourselves for our own video meetings—and we are now ready to expand that early adopter user base. We want to do it in a somewhat controlled and methodical fashion, so we came up with the idea of introducing the product (right now) and providing a way for people to be included in our Founders Club.
We have a waiting list you can join, and as we make progress, we will release batches of people on the waiting list to be given SwellChat accounts and use of the application. If you are included in the Founders Club, you will be given two free years of use of SwellChat. All that we ask is that you provide us candid feedback on the application, let us know of any issues or bugs that you find, and hopefully participate in our group activities online and on a private LinkedIn user group.
Our plan is to run the Founders Club for three to six months, and when we feel that we have a solid application with well-rounded features, we will open SwellChat to the public.
If you’d like to add yourself to the SwellChat Founders Club waiting list, you can do that here.
We will remain focused on building the SwellChat customer community and continue to add features and functionality. We are also in the process of selecting our second product. Our entire team is getting together for our first product retreat at the end of September to spend a few days discussing our plans for SwellChat and the selection of our next product.
You can follow our progress on LinkedIn, and make sure to check back in here for periodic updates. We’ll continue to write a post every few months and share our learnings and our milestones.
We started 3Together because we wanted to work on interesting and important products that could help many people. We also wanted to create a unique culture and a different type of software company. We appreciate you joining us on this journey and taking the time to read our updates.
Much love from all of us.
Jessica Brewer and Shawn Jenkins
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