With Slack reaching an estimated valuation of US$1 billion and HipChat resting cozily in the arms of its acquirer Atlassian, enterprise chat remains a field that looks ripe for ambitious startups to grow in. One such company is TeamNote, a Hong Kong-based firm that’s currently wrapping up its time in Y Combinator (Disclosure: Y Combinator is an investor in Tech in Asia. See our ethics page for more information).
TeamNote has created an app designed specifically for mobile-first, enterprise chat. It’s not available for download on iTunes or in Google Play – companies add new users by sending out links or manually deploying the app out. As for features besides chat, founder Roy Law says that polling (“What do we think about this new hire?”), task assignment, and training modules help make the app more suitable than Line or WhatsApp. But Law thinks that TeamNote’s true advantage over high-profile competitors like Slack is its mobile-first build.
“For Clack, if you’re in an office, you can communicate well. But for our direction, if your enterprise has a more mobile workforce that moves around a lot, my solution can help,” says Law.
Before founding TeamNote, Law acted as CEO of AppTask, an app development house that made software for McDonalds Hong Kong, Disney in Hong Kong, and other high-profile clients. After taking a job for a large real estate developer that asked for a mobile enterprise chat app, Law and his team came up with what would eventually become TeamNote. Realizing its potential, the founder spun out TeamNote into a standalone company in July 2013. AppNote continues to operate under a different CEO.
Law says that the doubling-down on TeamNote came down to the need to scale.
“A project company is hard to scale up. But a product can scale up very fast. I can sell it in Asia, but it’s easy to expand to the US,” says Law. “[At AppTask] As long we have many different customers, I have to hire more developers. But for the TeamNote, I just need five developers.”
Law says that over 200 clients have used TeamNote to date in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China. But it only launched globally this week. Law attributes the app’s robust growth in the east to AppTask’s existing client base of well-known corporations.
TeamNote intends to monetize by charging enterprises US$5 per user monthly, or a custom rate if the firm requires deeper integration into its cloud infrastructure.