Mantis

SaaS on a Hunch


A few weeks ago I launched Mantis, a live-audio chat plugin that any business can embed on their website. It allows site visitors to speak with them directly through the browser, with a single click, from anywhere in the world.

Unlike some SaaS offerings which are built around the discovery of some problem, Mantis is built on an opinion, hunch, or hypothesis about how things ought to be. Taking this approach is a bit like rolling a boulder to the top of a hill; I believe it actually requires me convincing (some) potential users to view things from a new point of view instead of just solving some pain. Let me elaborate.

There's a longer story here, but in short Mantis came from an end-user pain. I'm someone who:
a) likes to ask get answers to multiple questions before buying basically anything online, and
b) actually prefers calling businesses to get these answers when possible.

In my opinion, text-based live chats and email support are way too slow, and frankly demeaning when you're given a bot instead of a human. Even if I get a reply, the clarity and throughput typically is almost always worse than a call. But if I as a user/customer feel this pain, it clearly must translate to pain for a business, right?

Maybe, maybe not. Even for similar businesses, there's a ton of variation in approaches to user/prospect/customer interaction. Some businesses have told me they intentionally try to produce friction for a customer to speak to them; others have told me their availability for prospects (let alone paying customers) has made all the difference in their growth and success.

I was going to originally title this post "The Cost of Facelessness", or "No Business is Too Big to Be Faceless", but I'm not ready to quantify the earlier, or make a claim to the latter. These are the answers I'm looking for as I grow Mantis, and confirmation of such ideas will only aid its success. I'm also not driving towards binary answers, but rather seeking to understanding the conditions under which a business can greatly benefit from enhanced user interaction.

My hypothesis is that offering a frictionless, high-throughput means of allowing someone to contact an internet business (especially customers), has a positive ROI in almost every case. The magnitude of that ROI is highly variable.

For startups, speaking to users and prospects to drive product direction is downright necessary, so the ROI could wind up being the continued existence of the company (see this YC post if you don't know what I'm talking about).

For growth and later stage companies, letting your paying customers come to you about any issues seems like it should be a top priority, and efficiently answering questions for prospects should convert more customers, or generate more qualified leads. To me, these things seem obvious, but maybe I'm overlooking something.

Obviously such opinions will be met with adversarial points of view, and I welcome those. Any and all feedback is welcome, either via comments where I post this, or directly to me if you want to use Mantis in the bottom corner.

But if you really want to help me answer these questions, give Mantis a try, and let me know what you find. Right now I'm pulling people off the waitlist and provisioning access. I encourage you to drop your email there. If you want access even sooner, just shoot me a note at now@mantis.chat, and I'll try to serve you as fast as I can.