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Eat Your Own Dog Food [Mistakes I made #4]

by Alex Yumashev · Jan 13 2011
This is the forth post in the "Mistakes I made" series, where I share the "donts" of my startup experience.
"Eating your own dog food" - is when a software company uses it's own products. And it's the best way to (a) demonstrate your confidence in it, and (b) see your product in action. With your customer's eyes.

One of my biggest mistakes was - not using some of our products. Jitbit HelpDesk, in particular. We've never used it in full. I was a deputy CIO at my previous job, so I had a clue how to run a help desk department. Moreover, we even wrote our own in-house ticket-management system there. So I thought I was smart enough to create a help desk software application without fully using it. It turned out - I wasn't.

Jitbit Helpdesk for the help desk

Like I said, we haven't used our web-based Help Desk software in full. We used it to track our internal development issues and manage the team projects, but not to provide the actual online support to our customers. So a while ago I finally decided to launch a support portal that is based entirely on Jitbit Helpdesk.

But that's not all. Our new help desk actually uses the same server and same database cloud as our hosted helpdesk. We became our own SaaS customer. Our own regular customer, with no exceptions or privileges. Our support portal is just another "instance" of Jitbit Hosted Helpdesk.

You know, "you go - we go". That's the only way it should be.


I did expect some useful discoveries, but the actual results were overwhelming. It was the second best decision I made in the history of Jitbit (the first was quitting my full-time job). We discovered a heck of a ton of things to improve... Email-integration, technicians usability, UI-design... From small tuneups, like font-sizes, to serious improvements in the inbound email parser and absolutely new features like "hiding particular messages from the Knowledge-base" and more...

Let me put it this way: it was two months when I was barely getting any sleep, adding countless features, tuneups and improvements with my team. You think you know what "extreme programming" really means? Think it over. Two sleepless months. But I've never been happier. Heck, it's an amazing feeling when a customer says "I think you need feature X" and you say "You know what? Me too!"

It's "scratching your own itch". It's "being in the same boat".

And it's not "fulfilling a customer's request" anymore. It's having a proof that you make his life easier.