Hey awesome Monzo Community, it’s me, your favourite renegade/ex-admin/traitor I haven’t made a thread since the leaving one, but…. I wanted to say how humbled and grateful I am for the huge outpouring of support
Leaving was a not an easy decision, but when it’s time, it’s time. It’s really nice to be operating again in such a small environment (30 people or so!) where I’m able to give high level strategic input and utilise all of my skills to shape the progress of the company.
I really feel such a personal connection with so many of you all, and it’s because of that that I’m hoping to keep you in the loop with what I’m doing and hoping that you’ll join me in my journey!
I wanted to take a moment to update you all with what’s happening with Sphere Chat (my new home) and to see if any of you would be interested in testing it out soon.
As some of you might have seen in the TechCrunch article, Sphere is a chat messenger for groups to feel closer, and achieve more together. We hope to make group conversations feel more fun, and less tedious and chaotic - solving problems including unresponsive members, important information getting lost, and irrelevant floods of messages.
On a high level, some of these groups might even have needs that just aren’t being met by the current crop of group chat apps, whether that’s helping to arrange meetups and events, sending out newsletters, or even just gaining consensus on a decision. Many groups can get overrun with off topic chit-chat, or even just a lack of tools to help facilitate fun and friendly banter.
It’s very early days for us but my aim is that we become a company that’s, among other things, radically transparent (sound familiar?) and is really committed to building what we’re building together with our users.
Where we’re at right now is that we’re looking for folks who are admins of small communities or interest groups who aren’t being serviced well by the existing apps that are out there. Right now, we think we can serve these small communities well, who might have outgrown using something like a WhatsApp group, yet for whom something like Slack might be too business focused.
So, if you have a group that might benefit from such a thing - We’d like to know if you’d be willing to have a 30-60 minute phone call with one of our team so we can discuss what needs your community has and how Sphere might be able to help. We’ll shortly parlay this into actually onboarding people who are willing to try the app out and give us feedback. We aren’t expecting folks to fully move their groups over just yet - it’s a first date, not a marriage - but we’ll need as much feedback as we can get in these early days so that our early cohorts can help us shape the product as much as possible.
If that’s you, then hit up my DMs and let’s talk!
My other thing is that I’d love to deploy the product to a few individuals here who may not be admins of small communities / interest groups, but who are keen early adopters, like spotting bugs and giving feature suggestions, etc. That’d also be really helpful, and if you’re into giving that high level feedback, then hit me up and we can get you into the product - the caveat is that it’s very early days for us right now, so the product is pretty minimal (for now) and we’re being careful to only invite people who we believe will be happy to give us consistent, constructive feedback on the product.
The main priority right now is identifying admins / community managers who have needs that we can solve, and working with them to get detailed feedback that will help us build out the feature set. Some of the groups who we already have in this program include things like: Local football teams, University interest groups, Book clubs, we have a Young VC’s (venture capitalists) group, and we have at least one Dungeons and Dragons group
Here’s the core feature set that we have so far:
Working, stable apps on iOS, Android and Web
Sphere Creation and individual chat creation
Secret Chats (Invite only, not visible in the Sphere to non-invited Sphere members)
Announcements (Important messages that are highlighted, and every member has the option to click “I’ve read this” - admins can see who has clicked and who has not, and notify them individually or as a group)
@ name mentions
You can also check out our Help Centre here which has an FAQ and some more info:
Over the course of the rest of the year, we hope to have gathered enough feedback and solution validation to be confident to start opening up the app to a wider audience, and coming out of stealth. There’s lots of cool things I want to do as that progresses, for example, I’d love to launch a feature roadmap, public bug tracker, and obviously all the regular stuff like a blog, and our website MVP landing page. So lots of exciting things to come in that realm!
Thanks for reading, and I hope everyone here is doing well in the current climate