We’ve all sent incredibly dumb text messages. Sometimes it’s because autocorrect made you look like a nonsensical idiot, sometimes it’s because you’ve had a wee bit too much to drink, or if you’re like my dad, sometimes it’s because you’re new at using emoji’s and didn’t realize that you are not supposed to send them to business contacts. Whatever the case may be, there’s usually nothing you can do once you’ve shot that text message out into the ether. Unless you have On Second Thought app. While it’s feature rich, the main goal is deceptively simple, to give your text messages a grace period. We chatted with Maci Peterson, the founder of On Second Thought about her inspiration, long-term goals, and regretful text messages.
What inspired you to start On Second Thought?
I think that we’ve all sent those text messages that we desperately wish we could get back. So, for me, I was going on a first date with this guy in MD. What I wanted to say to him was, “Hey are you in the city or are you in MD?” and autocorrect changed it to, “Are you in the city or are you in me?” Which was not what I was trying to say to him. The instant reaction is to start slamming your fingers against the phone and that doesn’t do anything. Then I check the app store and, at the time, there was nothing that would allow me to take my message back. So then I did a Google search to see if there was anything that would let me take my messages back and I didn’t find anything there either so, I started texting my friends, asking them if they’d ever sent messages they wish they could take back. Overwhelmingly they all said yes. I thought, “Hey, maybe I’m onto something.”
What’s an average day like in the office working on OST?
It’s funny, people ask me that all the time, there isn’t an average day. Today, I’m in San Francisco and I’ll be here until tomorrow night. I’m taking a red eye back to DC. On Tuesday, I’ll be in LA and I’ll be there until Saturday. There really is not an average day at all. Things get changed and I end up needing to fly anywhere in the country to promote or have meetings regarding On Second Thought. It’s a really fun way to live. You always wake up to the unknown… I know that’s a weird answer.
No worries. I interview startups all the time and everyone seems to have the same answer.
Basically the common theme is everyday I’m literally hustling.
That’s awesome. What do you think distances OST from other messaging apps?
There are actually some major differences. The first is that On Second Thought allows you to take back your text messages before they get to the other person. There is no chance that the other person has read your message, if you recall it. The second, is we only require the sender to have the app in order for our functionality to work. The others require both the sender and the receiver to have the app. Another major thing is the fact that we actually handle text messages, like SMS and MMS, whereas others handle chat and IM. So they’re more like a Gchat. Then, I think the biggest thing is also where we’re going. So we started with text messaging, but we’re actually building a platform for all communications so that you can basically speak with all of your contacts, no matter the platform your contacts are on, all through On Second Thought. So instead of needing to check five different apps to stay in touch with everyone, you can stay in touch with them all through our app.
So that would include Facebook Message and Gchat, and stuff like that?
Yeah, so we are in the process of building the functionality for our app so that you can communicate with your Facebook message, or Gchat contacts, through On Second Thought. You’ll still have the ability to recall your text messages, or set a curfew, if you’re going out.
Without diving into the technical aspects of it, can you talk about how the recall function works? I know I have a plugin for my Gmail account that allows you to recall emails for a short period of time.
It’s a lot like that, but we give you even more control and power. It’s really easy, you just go to the Google Play Story, download the app, go into the app settings, set it as the default texting app. That means that every text message sent to, or from, your phone will go through the On Second Thought app, so that you can send messages with our protection. You can almost think of it as insurance. In the app settings you can determine your grace period, or the amount of time you have to recall a message. That can be up to 60 seconds. I have mine set at five seconds.
Yeah, I have mine set at five seconds because I’m a little impatient. So after hitting send I have five seconds to take back that message.
Do you find that people use OST more often to fixing typos or for taking back something that they really regret? I feel like most of the messages I want to take back are due to typos or autocorrect.
Yeah, me too. Honestly, in terms of anecdotes we’ve heard from our users, it’s more so an accidental message. An autocorrect failure, or something like that. We’re actually in the process of doing a survey so we can get more information about how we can help our users. Of course on social media, or email, people have written us “Thank you so much!” but we want to know exactly how we’re helping them out so that we can continue to provide a great experience for them.
Outside of integrating a bunch of messaging platforms, are there any other long-term goals for OST?
Of course, acquisition is always great, but in terms of building the product we’re integrating some really great features Starting next year we’re doing some things to have a strong presence in developing countries. We’re also working with some television studios for product placement. So, you’ll see On Second Thought on the big screen as well. Of course, we’re also developing for additional platforms. We’re on Android right now, we’re working on iPhone, and then eventually we will probably go to Windows Phone as well.
What’s the timeline for getting on iOS?
We’ve decided to really focus on perfecting our Android app and delivering the best experience to our users there. We’re continuing to work on that. We’re really focused on pushing that to be as good as it can. We decided to focus on that and then we will release on iPhone.
Why did you guys decide to go with Android first?
There is actually a larger Android market. There are over a billion Android’s in use. Our target market is 18 to 40 year olds, or millennials, and actually 52% of millennials have an Android, so it’s pretty much a 50-50 split. Also, early on in the company, we were given a huge international platform at the Web Summit in Dublin, so since internationally, Android are more popular, we decided to go that route.
It’s definitely a more open platform in term of changing default settings, like changing the dialer or the messaging app and stuff like that. Has that been helpful?
Absolutely. The other nice thing about Android is that it allows us to test different features to see what works. So that’s just more information we’ll have when we move to iPhone. You can turn things around more quickly than Android so it’s a great gauge on what our users want. The Google Play Store is a lot more friendly to developers than the App store. So when we go to the Apple store it will pretty much be set.
What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is to be bold. When you know that something is perfect for you, or that you’re perfect to do something, don’t let anyone steer you otherwise. Really walk in and believe that this is what’s meant for you. Boldness has really gotten us where we are today It’s because of that that I even applied to pitch at SXSW, and that I won first place. Or the Web Summit… or even tackling something that everyone thought was impossible. The biggest thing is, and what I always say is, when you are in a meeting it does seem impossible, and that’s the point.