Interview with Pie, Singapore's "Chat for Work" Startup
Tell us about Pie. What inspired you to start this Company?
In our previous jobs me and my co-founder were forced to use Lotus Notes. Often times we’d see entire teams secretly switch to WhatsApp instead. Interestingly people realized that this was not ideal. It‘s like using Hotmail for work.
Problem is that other than tools geared at software developers there’s no chat for work offerings that provide the same level of simplicity, reliability, and speed as WhatsApp or Messenger. It’s this insight that made us decide to build Pie, work chat with the same simplicity and broad appeal as the leading consumer chat apps.
What's your personal background?
Before starting Pie I was product manager at Playfish/EA, building social games on Facebook. I had lots of fun spending most of my time selling virtual fertilizers and designing cute farm animals.
Managing a social game is interesting as it’s very similar to running a startup: you have to make sure that your players stick, that your user base grows, and that you make enough money. There’s a lot of psychology and behavioral economics involved in these seemingly simple games. I was lucky to play around with all Cialdini’s influence principles and test them on millions of daily active users :)
Who should be using this app?
Everyone that’s looking for simplicity and a friendly user experience should give us a go. It really is the ease-of-use and ultra polished experience that makes Pie stand out. As a result of our borderline-mad focus on designing the friendliest user experience we appeal to a broad - often not very tech-savvy - audience.
Pie is used by ad agencies, media companies, design bureaus, and publishers, but also by flower shops, churches, and universities. Our insight is that there’s a huge demand for simple enterprise messaging apps in non-technical verticals, an audience that is often overlooked by other players in our space.
Corporations often want to have control over communications (and they often store all intra-office chats for legal and other reasons). How are you tackling this issue with your app?
Data storage and management is especially important for larger companies. As we’ve gradually been growing the average company and team size on Pie this is something that we’ll be offering very soon with an extensive admin control panel.
So please stay tuned for a little bit longer.
What are you doing to safe guard the software against hackers?
Running Pie on AWS enables us to offer enterprise-level security. It’s something that’s very important to us, and we know it’s important to our users too.
Pie uses modern encryption methods to secure your chats and files. Pie is deliberately designed so that only the people with the same company email domain can access their company chats and to the contents of the conversations.
No need to use your personal phone number and mix up work with your private life.
What's your favorite feature in Pie?
My favourite part is how using Pie makes me feel. We spend a great deal on design and artwork to make the experience as unintimidating and fresh as possible.
I mean, who can resist the cute and cheeky artwork like our default profile pics?! It’s things like these that we sprinkle all over the app as it’s something our users love.
What's the startup scene in Singapore like?
It’s incredibly vibrant with all major components of a proper ecosystem in place. There’s plenty of early-stage funding, there’s great talent, and in terms of awareness and entrepreneurial culture the government is supporting the ecosystem a great deal.
In particular more legacy software companies like HP, Linden Lab, PayPal, and Yahoo have managed to bring in some amazing talent that the early generation of Singapore-bred software startups - like Viki and Zopim - have managed to leverage.
Singapore is now in a next, more mature, phase with new incubator programs popping up almost every week, a growing list of more professional - big idea - ventures, and several prominent Sand Hill road VCs actively investing in the latest generation of Singapore startups.
Which startups in Singapore do you admire?
I really like how both the Carousell and Zopim team have managed to patiently grow their audience while optimizing their product, they really demonstrate how product focus, great execution, and patience make all the difference. I also like how Viki has managed to build a service and platform - with a vibrant community of translators - that is so unique on a global level.
What's next for Pie?
At Pie we’ll always be focusing on ensuring the highest quality product experience. We’ve got some major and unique features in store that we’ll be rolling out in the coming weeks. These new features will allow us to further accelerate our growth.
We see a strong and ever growing appetite for apps like Pie that enable people to separate their work and private messaging life.
Based on our research people are fed up using consumer messaging apps like WeChat, Line, or Skype with coworkers. Ask anyone about their own horror story of accidentally sharing that picture meant for their girlfriend with their manager.
Pie is free and is available on all devices, get it on https://www.pie.co/apps/