KeyReply Team Builds Free Chat Widget


The team behind KeyReply, a keyboard for iOS that allows teams to easily customize and send pre-written messages, isn’t satisfied with building and launching a single product.

Earlier this month, they released KeyReply for OSX, expanding the reach of their time-saving mobile utility to serve Macintosh users. But later that same week, they released Chat by KeyReply, an entirely different tool to help people connect with their customers and website visitors.

Startup founders, and perhaps technology startup founders especially, are already an unusual breed. I’m learning that firsthand as I struggle to keep up with the members of the current sixth cohort of the Blue Startups technology accelerator program.

As I work with friend and lead founder Vincent Kimura on Smart Yields (scrambling to get pilot installs in place and finalizing an MVP and an investor pitch deck before the program ends in January), I’ve watched other cohort members work incredibly hard on their startups as well. Many are making substantial changes in the middle of the program, with three even changing their company names. One example? The Grumble team, which we featured on the Geek Beat only a month ago, finally launched their app… but also ended up changing their name to Ditto.

chat-keyreplyBut the KeyReply team (Spencer Yang, Carylyne Chan, and Max Xu Mengxiang) has not only been able to release and refine KeyReply with laser-like focus, but has also found the time to conceive, build, and release something completely new. I ran into Spencer and Carylyne at the Blue Startups office on Christmas Eve, and couldn’t resist asking Carylyne about it.

“So while you guys are busy working on your software startup,” I asked, “you still had enough free time to do something on top of that?”

“That’s pretty much it,” she replied.

Perhaps the ease with which they seem to build things is not entirely a surprise, though, as they already have other successful product launches under their belt, including GraphPaper and SlackDigest.

Spencer describes Chat by KeyReply as “a free chat widget to end all chat widgets.” By adding a chunk of code to your website, visitors can click on an unobtrusive and elegantly designed chat icon and be able to get in touch with you through nearly a dozen different popular channels. Carylyne said it took them only three days to build, and it takes only five minutes to install. I’ve added it to this blog, and can attest to that.

With Chat by KeyReply, there’s a link for email and phone contacts, of course, but their widget also supports apps like Skype, Snapchat, WeChat, Telegram and Line. It looks great, even on mobile devices, and it’s completely self contained — absolutely all the interaction happens between your website and the people who visit it. KeyReply doesn’t collect any of the information sent via its widget, or even keep the contact details you use to set it up.

“Nope, we don’t collect the fields you input, and nope, there really is no catch,” Carylyne wrote on Medium on Wednesday. “Guess it’s pretty suspicious to give away free stuff these days?”

Their chat widget was very well received in the startup community. It shot up the ranks at Product Hunt, even surpassing an announcement of a new feature on Spotify.

Although a keyboard utility and a website chat button seem like very different things, Carylyne explained how Chat by KeyReply fits in the philosophy that drove the development of the KeyReply team keyboard in the first place.

“We found out the need for, as the buzzword goes, ‘multichannel’ or ‘omnichannel’ communications — this means being where the customer is, and engaging with them on the channels they want you to be,” she explained. “We know what our [small- to medium-sized business] site owners need, which is not another backend dashboard to manage, but a direct line to their customers which they already manage.”

To be sure, I’d like to think of you as a reader, or even a friend, rather than a customer. But no matter who you are, you can use the Chat by KeyReply widget to say hello. I’d like that.

1 Response

  1. Spencer says:

    Thanks Ryan for such a great write up – my team is humbled. :)

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