MessageBox Begins - From Banking to Hotel Operations Technology

pubslished on
June 5, 2021
Hospitality Operations

43 years old!
16 as a banker!
Bored. Itching to do something different. But what?
Just a mid-life crisis? Or something more?
Sound familiar?

Doing something on my own has always appealed to me. But what could a middle-aged banker do that could possibly make a difference. But life often finds a solution for you. And that becomes your destiny!

The MessageBox Founders: Shabu Ans, Shaji Francis and Jimmy Joseph

So it was in my last few years as a banker that I met Jimmy Joseph . A great guy and neighbor, and extremely passionate about all things hospitality. We became good friends. Over time, he introduced me to his industry, taking me to meetings and giving me a fly-on-the-wall look at the technology driving hospitality. It was all quite fascinating; I found myself wanting to get into this space with something of my own to offer.

Jimmy would religiously visit the HITEC - Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference - held every year in a different city of the United States. It was almost like an annual pilgrimage for him. I tagged along the year it was held in Minneapolis. And I was hooked.

So, one part of the equation got solved. I now knew I needed to do something in this space. But what?

“Pivot” was not a word I had previously used a lot before. The only pivot I knew was the pivot tables in Microsoft Excel. Like most startup founders would attest to – what you begin with and what you end with, most often, are never the same.

I spent all my professional life in managing back-office operations and I thought, this would be the best way I could contribute in terms of a product in this industry.

“What you begin with and what you end with are, most often, never the same.”
The MessageBox Platform

MessageBox - The first completely chat based Hotel Operations Platform is conceived:

Meanwhile, WhatsApp was sweeping through most part of the world, slowly becoming the de-facto method to communicate in your personal life. I realized that whatever platform I develop for hotels – it had to involve messaging. Users always like to bring in their personal habits to their professional life. So, when it came to naming the product, I wanted a name that closely matched this new aspect of everyone’s life.

Enter MessageBox.

After going through 3 years of numerous iterations based on client feedback, MessageBox finally started getting a soul. Our goal was for MessageBox had to become “the” backend operations platform for hotel operations.

3 Features that hoteliers look for in a Hotel Operations Platform:

Finally, after all the pivoting, re-pivoting and countless iterations, I realized that for customers, what matters is quite simple:

  • Simple:
    No complex trainings. No complex setups. Just “Plug and Play”.
  • Affordable:
    All the existing backend applications in the market were “outrageously” expensive and just didn’t make any sense. Some of them still are. I still cannot figure out why anyone can blow up such a huge amount of money of what is essentially a task management application.
  • Messaging-Centric:
    I like messaging. My application should be like messaging. I already know how to use a messaging application. So, understanding MessageBox which is “completely message based” would be so easy.

This isn't rocket science; Just plain, common sense.

The Takeaways

With that being said, just creating a great product is not enough. New Challenges continue to emerge. The biggest being what I just mentioned above – the customers personal habits.

What if those habits were so sticky that onboarding to an application that allows you to manage tasks efficiently is, itself, the biggest challenge?

Well, that's for another blog to discuss...