In choosing to do our startup in the San Francisco Bay Area, near the heart of the Valley — the world center for technology and innovation — and joining an incubator run by Xooglers, we didn’t expect our company’s most powerful and transformative lesson over the past 4 months to be that in the realm of the visceral, intangible, and emotional. What we learned first and foremost was the importance of vision and its resonance as an organizing principle.
A company is a group of people making a series of decisions. But what continues to bind individuals together in a common enterprise? And how do individuals with wildly variant opinions and selves make shared decisions? The lesson we learned is that vision, not profit motive or friendship, provides the emotional glue to stick together and the axioms upon which concrete decisions — resolving data and feedback — are made.
iDoneThis started out as a side project done over a weekend by Rodrigo and me with one simple mechanic in mind — a daily prompt to record what you did that day. In years prior, Rodrigo had kept a calendar to track daily progress and we thought to make that process easy for everyone. People liked it.
This guest blog post comes from Bassam Tarazi, founder of Colipera. Colipera uses both individual goal setting and the social pressure that comes from being a part of a group endeavor to help you stay committed to your goals.
We find plenty of reasons to not start; plenty of made up, self-sympathizing reasons to never see a dream or a goal through to the finish. Truth of the matter is, we allow those reasons to seep in like water in a punctured hull because we haven’t committed to the task at hand. We’re not devoted to the all-hands-on-deck mentality that is needed to keep the dream afloat.
We have a broad-based, loosely constrained web application. Our users engage with the site in a variety of different ways for a number of reasons. That makes it difficult to take a bunch of usage information and turn it into actionable data about how to position our product.
In searching for data to form the basis for a concise statement on our site’s value proposition, we ended up in an unexpected place. We had built an invite system which was super simplistic. A user could type in an email address and include an optional message. We would email that person with an invitation to sign up to use iDoneThis (no special referral URL, just a link to http://iDoneThis.com).
It turns out that when a user invited her friend to use iDoneThis, she used the optional message, not merely to say hello, but as an opportunity to pitch her friend on using iDoneThis. Our invite system ended up containing concise statements of how users use iDoneThis, how it works for that use case, and the value they derive from it — and gives us the language to express all of that.
The lean startup movement disdains the big press launch, and rightfully so. However, the polemical nature of the argument gives off the impression that press should never be sought. Quite the contrary, press should be sought ceaselessly. That being said, it’s important to understand the magnitude of traffic that you can expect from press and of what kind.
With the tiny investment of time that it took to draft two cold emails, we got a huge payoff in getting written up by Lifehacker. For most new startups, TechCrunch is a distant and unattainable goal, but Lifehacker will write about your weekend project if it’s got a compelling productivity hook. To boot, Lifehacker will drive traffic on the same order of magnitude as TechCrunch with users who may actually stick around.
I’m often asked how iDoneThis has been featured so often in the press. Business Insider picked as one of 20 startups to watch, Bob Scoble tweeted about us, and Lifehacker, Netted, The Next Web, and The New York Observer have all written about our modest three-man band.
For us, press has come from making a case to be heard through relationships with the relevant people. Knowing people results from schmoozing.
I’ve never been a good schmoozer. My mom told me to be a professor like my dad, because, “No one likes you.” I’m usually standing in the corner talking with a friend at parties, if I’m at a party at all. I get worn out from being around people and need my alone time to recharge.
Hi there. We’re proud to announce two new features to you. Friends, iDoneThis users, humans, Dundee the productive dog — lend me your ears.
Get your iDoneThis daily dones in your Google Calendar! Click on the “Feed” link underneath your iDoneThis calendar. You will receive a secret link that you can plug into your Google Calendar.
We’ve made iDoneThis calendar sharing dead simple. Click on the “Share” link underneath your iDoneThis calendar. You will receive a different, equally as secret link that you can share with anyone.
We take your privacy seriously. All feeds, sharing, and secret links are turned off until you decide to turn them on. A talebearer revealeth secrets: but it that is of a faithful website concealeth the matter.
– Walter, Rodrigo, and Jae
P.S. We’d love it if you gave the gift of iDoneThis to your family and friends. Send out invitations by clicking on the “Invite” link underneath your iDoneThis calendar and putting in the email address of every single person you know.
Meet Rakesh Nair, software developer, writer, and foodie. Rakesh stays productive with his many projects so that at day’s end he can write down his accomplishments in iDoneThis.
I express myself almost completely in three words which form a part of my Twitter bio: Fat, Humorous, Witty.
I love food, all kinds, with absolutely no exception. Chinese food, especially noodles, is my top favorite and burgers and fries come a close second.
The only thing that almost beats eating is reading. I love books and I read a lot.
Meet Corey Maass, productivity expert, software developer, and musician. Corey uses iDoneThis to keep track of work, play, and everything in between.
Corey’s been working on the web for 15 years, enough time to learn a little about a lot of things. In 2004 he launched his first web app, and has created a dozen more since. Working on his own ideas, or helping clients, his passion lies in building smart, helpful web sites that are a pleasure to use. Most recently, he launched the Birdy, which helps you track your spending.
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Contact: The Birdy