(Originally published at christianreber.com in April 2013)
Today, we are announcing the business model behind Wunderlist, the first version of Wunderlist Pro. For a young business like ours, this is an incredibly important milestone. So much so that today I would love to take this opportunity to reflect on the last 2.5 years. I want to share with you some insights and key learnings, as well as talk a little bit about our future.
Let’s start at the beginning… In November 2010, six people (two designers and four engineers — including me) launched the first version of Wunderlist, a simple to-do app for Mac and Windows. Just one month later, the same team introduced Wunderlist for iPhone. All apps tied together through our very own cloud sync. It was our first experience designing and developing a cross-platform product — and it has been great. Now, 2.5 years later, a lot has changed.
My recap of launching Wunderlist 2
Just four months ago we launched the second version of Wunderlist. A talented team of 20 engineers, five designers and three QA specialists rebuilt the app from scratch using native technologies for each platform. Our team now consists of 39 people, all working hard to deliver the best product experience possible. The launch was exciting and challenging at the same time. As expected, our users were pretty excited when we announced Wunderlist 2, but we didn’t expect that scaling our API would be so incredibly tough. It was a bumpy launch. Since then, our team has worked hard to fix all issues and improve the product. And, despite the challenging start we have had some pretty great achievements.
Today, Wunderlist for Mac has a 5-star average rating, and it constantly ranks in the Top 20 on the Mac App Store. The growth of Wunderlist for iPhone & iPad has always been great, yet we’ve managed to almost double the daily number of downloads with Wunderlist 2. The growth of Wunderlist for Chrome is also impressive, we are close to reaching 300,000 active installations, just on Chrome. In addition to that, we made the Wunderlist experience even smoother with the introduction of the Add to Wunderlist browser extension on Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
Two things I’m especially happy about is Wunderlist for Android and for Windows — two platforms we’ve always supported, but we haven’t been best at. Well, those times are almost over, both platforms are now growing fast. We’ve cracked 1 million downloads on Google Play, and are getting great reviews from our users. Personally, I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved with this new release. For us, Wunderlist 2 was all about reaching a new level of quality, and I think that milestone has been achieved.
The impact of moving completely to native development has been great. We’ve grown to more than 4 million users, we’ve doubled the number of daily active users and increased the number of monthly active users by 50%. It’s still too early to reveal absolute numbers, but I had share some with you today. Also, we are preparing an announcement that’s purely focused on numbers and activity, so expect to hear more soon.
All those positive signals are the result of eight challenging months of rebuilding Wunderlist, but there’s a lot more we want to work on. Beginning with the sync — improving reliability (and making it real-time!), adding more intuitive reminders, as well as the ability to upload files to tasks, and, of course many more features. 2013 will be a great year for Wunderlist, as we are planning to release new features within a cycle of every four to eight weeks, if not faster.
Wunderlist Pro — Collaboration made simple
Starting today, we’re extending what Wunderlist is known for — a useful to-do list app — and are joining the field of team collaboration. We’re launching a new update of Wunderlist, called Wunderlist Pro — and it finally marks the launch of our business model. Our goal of building a sustainable, lasting and highly profitable business is coming closer. I would like to share some insights regarding our overall product strategy.
We think of Wunderlist as a truly human product, we want it to feel more like a best buddy than a piece of technology. Wunderlist has never been the product with largest amount of features in the market, and it probably never will be. We committed ourselves from the beginning to deliver the best and most simple solution for task management to the mass market.
Over the past years, we’ve learnt a lot from our users. You love the simplicity of Wunderlist and we saw that more-and-more you went from using it in your personal lives to also using it in your workplace, to work collaboratively with fellow colleagues. We went through all your feedback and you were all asking for features that would help you organize work projects. Yet, without Wunderlist becoming just another overloaded complicated project management software.
So, with the first version of Wunderlist Pro, we are focusing on people who are working in small groups, teams and businesses. Our goal is to deliver the essential toolkit to collaborate on any project. We talked to users and friends, tried to understand which features are really essential for working in teams and tried to build them in the best possible way for mobile, tablet, desktop and the web. Wunderlist Pro will become available for a monthly or yearly subscription and we think with its features, together with native clients on all platforms, cloud sync and Wunderlist’s ease of use, we have everything it takes to make team collaboration real fun. And since we believe that fun isn’t the enemy of work, Wunderlist Pro will allow our users to be more productive each and every day.
Again, this is just the first version of Wunderlist Pro. To give you an idea where we’re heading let’s talk about what we want Wunderlist to become in the next few years…
Dropbox, Evernote and Wunderlist
One thing we’ve learned in the last 2.5 years with building Wunderkit and Wunderlist, is that we can only be great at something if we really try to focus on become outstanding at solving one single problem. And for us, that’s how people work and share tasks with each other. In addition, we know that our users think the same. We all want a product which solves a specific problem we have.
Personally, I like to think about this that way, users want Dropbox for Files, Evernote for Notes, and Wunderlist for Tasks. That’s our space, that’s where we are going to achieve category leadership.
Both Dropbox and Evernote have demonstrated how to build a great product for a specific problem, how to grow really quickly (which is necessary to survive) and how to monetize the usefulness of their products in a sustainable way. They are not only great products, they are also great companies and impressive businesses. With their latest announcements of 100m (Dropbox) and 50m (Evernote) users, they show without a doubt that they have managed to turn great products into highly profitable businesses valued at $5bn (Dropbox) and $1.5bn (Evernote). Based on their achievements, we know what’s possible for us.
In the next few years Wunderlist will become the category leader for Tasks. This is part of our DNA. It helps us to focus on the right things, and build them right. Wherever you have things to do in your life, we want Wunderlist to become the perfect solution for you. To run your business, plan your move to another city, organize your next vacation, or to start any kind of new project — Wunderlist should be essential for you. Our goal is to build the right solution for everyone. It should feel simple, easy and great — but also powerful, helpful and fun.
I know that achieving such a big goal only comes with a lot of hard work, sweat and tears. But that’s what keeps us going! I believe in this, every single day of my life. I am lucky to work with with some of the best people I know, and I know we can make it happen.
This is our vision for Wunderlist, our dream of becoming a place where great engineering meets great design. I’m in love with our mission. This is a great day, and well I can’t contain my excitement anymore!