Eoghan McCabe

CEO and Co-founder of Intercom

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON October 30, 2015


Eoghan McCabe@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
Hi, Eoghan here. (It's pronounced something like "Owen"…) I'm the CEO and a co-founder of Intercom, a fundamentally new way for internet businesses to communicate with customers, personally, at scale. We've raised $66M, and have over 8k customers in 85 countries. I'm from Dublin, Ireland, where I ran a software design consultancy called Contrast that worked on many successful products including Storyful (acquired by NewsCorp), Smartling (raised $63M), and FieldAware (raised $36M). After that I co-founded Exceptional, a SaaS business which was acquired in 2011. The frustrations we experienced as a SaaS business trying to communicate with our customers lead to my moving to San Francisco to found Intercom. So, I'm on my third company, I'm a designer founder, and think too much about technology, software, business, life. Ask me anything!
Oto Brglez@otobrglez · Architect of greatness. Also founder.
Hey! How do you guys fight complexity, and over-engineering?
Eoghan McCabe@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
@otobrglez Hey. ✋ It's hard. There are many things we do. One is that we ship features and products to customers very, very early. So we frequently find that the simpler solutions are all we need and don't have to go much further at that time so solve the majority of a problem for the majority of our customers.
Lauren Cullen@laurencullen · HRBP, Twitter
Hey Eoghan. What is the best thing about working at Interom?
Eoghan McCabe@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
@laurencullen It's a company where we've been able to stick to our principles and values, doing things our way, rather than copying anyone else, and have that strategy actually be successful and result in incredible growth. It's more fun to be original and to be yourself, and usually a more successful approach in the long term.
@eoghanmccabe best answer yet. +1
Wade@wade · Cofounder, Resource
What's the most difficult aspect of hiring in a company growing as quickly as intercom? How do you find people quickly that share Intercom's values?
Eoghan McCabe@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
@wade Hey. 👋 Good question! It's all really fucking hard. 😬 The most difficult aspect is keeping your bar high. You have new people hiring new people hiring new people! It's so easy for the company at large to lose sense of what you value, what type of people made you successful in the first place. We put a lot of effort into writing out and communicating our values. We're about to publish a book internally on our values.
Anthony Silva@aabelhamosca · Developer
Hi Eoghan 😀 Two questions: - What's your biggest problem at Intercom? Something you would pay a company to solve it for you. - Best advice for someone in the ideation stage and that wants to test ideas/find product market fit
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
@eoghanmccabe what was the biggest communication fail you guys saw before you started Intercom and how has it been remedied?
Eoghan McCabe@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
@russfrushtick Hi. ✋ Generally internet companies sending their customers to support forms where they would have to categorize their enquiry ("sales", "support", etc.), pick a priority, if not first have to dig thru an FAQ, and generally jump thru hoops to get help. It was and is the most impersonal and disrespectful thing you could do to your customers. Imagine someone in a coffee shop saying "wait, is this a sales or support enquiry" when you tried to talk to them.
Lachlan Campbell@lachlanjc · Hack Club design/JS—HS 🎓—they/them—🌈
@eoghanmccabe Hey, Eoghan! A few questions: What was getting Intercom started like? What were the first pieces you built? Now that the company has grown so much, what do you do/like doing on a daily basis?
Eoghan McCabe@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
@lachlanjc Hi! 👋 "What was getting Intercom started like?" Scary, lonely, grueling. But it would have been harder without having so many solid, trusted co-founderes. Intercom has four founders: me, Des Traynor, Ciaran Lee, David Barrett. We had worked for about four years together before starting Intercom. Good co-founders are so, so important. "What were the first pieces you built?" We built the in-app stuff first! We built something like it into our last product (Exceptional) and decided to try productize it. It was just a simple, chat-style pop-up that could hold arbitrary content. There was no such thing as "in-app messaging" back then. We landed on that term because we couldn't think of anything sexier. And it just stuck. "Now that the company has grown so much, what do you do/like doing on a daily basis?" Meetings! I have a lot more meetings. And emails. My life is meetings and emails. 😅 What I like doing is dreaming about the future, spending time with my co-founders and the leadership team here, planning increasingly ambitious goals…
Lachlan Campbell@lachlanjc · Hack Club design/JS—HS 🎓—they/them—🌈
@eoghanmccabe Really interesting — thanks!
Romy Misra@romy_misra
@eoghanmccabe Hi Eoghan! Thanks for doing this! You guys started with a big mission - in cases like this how do you identify an MVP? It's obviously valuable as the fully integrated solution and there are so many different companies for various components. Would love to hear more about the thought process there on how to approach a big problem of this sort.
Eoghan McCabe@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
@romymisra Hey. ✋ I'm not much of a lean startup person. I and we build primarily by touch and feel, by intuition. We just built the smallest, simplest thing we thought would be awesome, shared it with the world, and took it from there.
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What's something you've changed your mind about in the past year?
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Eoghan, what piece of advice would you give yourself aged 16,18,25 - would you do anything differently?
Eoghan McCabe@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
@ems_hodge Hi. ✋ I'd say this: "Hey! Eoghan! This is you. But from the future. I know this is weird. Shut up for a second. Listen… You're fucking awesome. Be you more. Focus on what you're passionate about. Be real and real people will want to be around you and work with and for you. Work hard and enjoy every day. Success and great things will follow." I basically did this, but I could have done thing a lot earlier in life.
Will Martin@willpmartin · founder liveduel
Hey Eoghan, how early into Intercom did you decide to head for SF and setup shop there? What is the breakdown of your Dublin and SF offices look like? What lessons have you learned along the way with having a US and EU office
Eoghan McCabe@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
@willpmartin Hi. ✋ "How early into Intercom did you decide to head for SF and setup shop there?" I came here about 6 months before we incorporated in Aug, 2011, knowing we wanted to try do Intercom the valley way, building a bigger, VC backed company. "What is the breakdown of your Dublin and SF offices look like?" I think it's about 50/50 today. We have about 170 people in total. HQ in SF. All business functions here. 100% of our product development in Ireland. "What lessons have you learned along the way with having a US and EU office." All video conferencing technology needs a lot of innovation!
Yusuf Parak@yusufpq
Hey Eoghan! Thanks for doing this AMA! I have a few questions, hope you don't mind? 1. What do you believe to be true that very few people agree with you on? 2. What are some of the challenges you're dealing with at Intercom and how are you going about solving them? 3. Would you ever consider making your product free to kids < 18, as a way to promote building/hacking things? Think that a lot more startups can add value in this area.
Eoghan McCabe@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
@yusufpq Hi. ✋ Re your first question, the whole Intercom idea (one platform for everyone in a company to communicate with their customers) has been strongly contested as a smart thing to try build and sell. I've had a lot of people tell me it was dumb.
Rui Marques@souruimarques · Designer
@eoghanmccabe You started Intercom because you saw the communication problem first hand in your previous companies. Is there any other problem that you experienced while doing your previous cos that you could have been working on if you hadn't started Intercom?
Eoghan McCabe@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
@souruimarques Hey there. 👋 Yes, we actually started working on another product about the same time as Intercom. It was called Whiteboarder. It was an app/service to take, store, and share photos of drawings/notes in teams. We were very excited about it at the time. I still think it's a fun idea. But we realized quickly that Intercom was a way bigger opportunity and decided to kill Whiteboarder and go all-in on one product.
Dave Ewart@clickbyclick · Head of Digital Marketing for NA, Oracle
When did you know you achieved product market fit, what was the tipping point?
Eoghan McCabe@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
@clickbyclick Hola. ✋ Not trying to be a smart ass here, just being honest. I'm still not quite sure what product-market fit really is. The best thing I can say is that we knew we were on to something when we saw people using Intercom the way we used it and loving it. Product making is an art. When you know, you know. Sorry I can't be more helpful.
Johannes Mutter@johannesmutter · Communication & Product Designer
Good evening Eoghan 🖖 - What is the most critical part of creating a satisfying communication with customers? Is there a recipe 🍝?
Eoghan McCabe@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
@johannesmutter Yo. 👋 Another cliche alert… It's critical to be real, be personal, be human. Think of every shit communication you've experienced recently. E.g. untargeted, spammy, fake email. It's the opposite of personal.
Sudheendra@webaficionado · Product Guy
Hi Eoghan, I'm huge fan of Intercom and also one of the happy users. My question to you is: How long did it take you guys to hit $1M ARR and what are some of the important learnings during that journey?
Eoghan McCabe@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
@webaficionado Hey. 👋 Too long. We didn't charge for the product for a whole year after we launched in beta. And then for the first year that we did, we only charged a flat fee of $50/month to everyone. I'm not sure if we regret that. One benefit of charging and growing revenue early is to demonstrate to outsiders (e.g. investors) that you are delivering value to the world. But a benefit of not charging is that you can obsessively focus on initial/core product, get away with many mistakes, find friendly early users easily, etc.
Chris Shepherd@sheppyc · Co-Founder, Fixington
@eoghanmccabe @webaficionado Great answer Eoghan. Happy and faithful Intercom customer since the early days here. One of the early things that drew me to Intercom back then was that 'Here's a great tool that we're building that changes the way you communicate to your customers, and it has a simple price point of $50 / month: Join us for the journey'. At a time when heaps of companies had lots of price plans - the pricing was a clean, simple with a clear value. It was arguably too cheap for the value it provided! But still... I think that was part of the attraction. Now paying more but the value proposition has grown as well as the tools and products I've created. I don't think you should regret that early price point. :)
Eoghan McCabe@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
Hey everyone! 👋 Thank you so much for your questions. 🙏 This was awesome. Running out of time here so will have to finish up. Sorry I didn't get to everyone. If you run an internet business, please check out Intercom!!! We'd love to have you as a customer. If you want to work for an internet business, please check out Intercom!!! We're growing very, very fast and now is a great time to get on board. https://www.intercom.io/careers 😜 Seeya. Happy Friday! 🍻
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
The intercom podcast is really growing on me. Do you view podcasts as an important part of communicating w/ customers in the future?
Eoghan McCabe@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
@alexcartaz Hi. ✋ Yes. But it's just one of many mediums. Really glad you like it. Here it is for those who don't know about it: https://www.intercom.io/podcast
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
Hey what would the you of two years ago think of the you of today??
Eoghan McCabe@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
@bentossell Hello! ✋ Two years ago we had just raised our Series A of $6M and had like 16 people in the company. We've now raised $66M and will have about 220 in the company by December. Our revenue has expanded about 70x since then. A lot has changed! I'd be impressed and disappointed. Mostly impressed, I think. Impressed because I've always doubted myself to some degree. I'd be just so impressed we actually got this far. Disappointed because I have an incredibly high bar for myself, and am very conscious that life is incredibly short. I have a lot I want to get done and I know we could have moved even faster. That's what keeps me going…
Sanjay Singh@aboutsanjay · Cofounder/CTO, iRefer - Referral SaaS
daniellevine@daniellevine · Fireside
@eoghanmccabe Thank's for doing this AMA. I'm wondering, what's the best thing you've come across in the last 30 days and why? Could be anything, a product, an article, a tea, a quote. Anything! Thanks for answering.