Chapter 11 — Project: Todo list
I needed this task listing solution. Here is its story so far. This was where we started inspiring coders and designers from. Todoed is our attempt to giving the world the best todo listing tool ever. in 2013. I hope you came to this story from the second page of the Preseed website.
A todo listing app until now assumes that it is okay to make us retype our own todos even when we just typed them on the chat with our coworker, or we just spotted our next todo on the web browser while researching some topic. Why? Why do we have to type that again. Should we not be able to instantly add those into our todo lists or our co workers todo lists, seamlessly?
Making chats productive by turning any text into a task with just one right-click.
I work at Preseed, an organization set up in a very liberal, remote work culture environment of people who discuss business on Facebook chats.
I spend a lot of my day thinking, making notes, finding new things on a browser and chatting with my co workers. I need a productivity tool exactly to serve that type of a working day. It needs to be simple and absolutely seamless from my current browser window, from my current chat screen and from my current thought stream. Hence, I am building it for there is none in the world like Todoed.
This model of communication (on Facebook chats) doesn’t seem to have a serious nature, but it seems to work, rather, it is the most natural way of discussions in a casual setting of work between two individuals who are friends on Facebook and also happen to work together. Although sometimes the chats get lengthy and the taskable action part of the chat fades away in those chats. That is the time when it gets inefficient. It was in one such moment I wished there was a tool with which I could highlight the text that was intended to be a task for the person I was chatting with. In certain cases I could be chatting with say, Raj, and we just mention a task that needs to be assigned to Akshay-: Right at that moment, I wished I could assign that task to Akshay right from the chat window itself or maybe assign to myself, right from there.
This is the exact problem that I wished to solve with Todoed. So I did.
Step 1 — I did not ignore the problem or the wish. I don’t normally ignore my itches.
Step 2 — Thought of the solution/idea and the user experience enough to be able to communicate about it with those who were going to help me build this tool, at least for my own need first.
Step 3 — Started finding the developer who was willing to work on this product without any immediate salary or a fee compensation.
Step 4 — Soon found Saikiran Daripelli. Who wrote this in the Preseed Application form-:
“I am searching for great ideas to work on, develop and help it become useful to people.
I see that you have very good product ideas and I have ability to develop them faster, better and cleaner than you expect from a developer.
So I think I fit the requirement well”.
He built the prototype soon after. He is blazing fast indeed! Thank you Saikiran. You are awesome.
Step 5 — Tested the prototype and continued the iterations (Measured) and (Learnt)… Done! We figured now it needed something in looks (Even though we knew we didn’t want to be anal about an extremely good looking app before launching it in the marketplace).
Step 6 — Found the design guy for it, Florain Menevis. He did an extremely good job. However, we decided to use the basic design sensibilities (UI) set by Florian including the logo and leave the details for later. (So that we could quickly launch without perfecting it prior).
“Question: Any challenging moment? How did you overcome it?”
Answer: Challenge in making Todoed was to make the first few guys believe in the power of a product as simple as this. Fortunately there were some people who were willing to have faith in my conviction about making this product. They may not have shared his exact vision for it at first, but they had faith in the power of newness, for they did acknowledge that there is no todo app like this in the world. Anyway once we found Sai and Florian, we had overcome that challenge for this product completely.
Step 7 — MVP Ready.
Step 8 — About to be Launched and for that we are using the Preseed team to hustle their way to get some early adopter for Todoed.
Step 9 (As on December 2014) — Todoed alpha is considered launched.
Note-: Only time and energy was spent in making and taking this product so far, not money.
Step 10 — Kartik, founder Springrole came in to pitch some money!
Also meet us on angel.co/todoed.
Question: Some exciting learnings/moments in your journey so far which you would like to share with all of us?
Answer: How faith among one another in our team has been a stronger asset than money. After joining Preseed, most members in our team learn about simplicity like they had never learned of before. Simplicity not only in products, but the ways of living life too.
Remember — The clear strength of this product is it’s simplicity and novelty, hard to find nowadays, in productivity tools. Most of them are rip offs of each other just designed differently. Todoed is fundamentally different and that makes it very worthy of attention from extra ordinary companies and people alike. I see a big opportunity in this app for all of us.
I believe just this alone can make our current MVP be downloaded by 1000s.
Lets now think of Todoed as a bookmarking tool
I browse and find some interesting article for Ansal, I send it to his Todoed by highlighting and delegating some text of that article as I did in case of text on chats. Todoed itself will work as a book marking tool with which you can assign the bookmark as a todo to yourself or your coworker at the very instance of bookmarking that web page or web discovery.
The point we are trying to make is that info we deal with in a daily browsing need must not only be taken to our bookmarks in isolation, in fact it should be delegated to someone from the team (who may need to dig that information) exactly at the instance the user found that information or a web page. This is just one of the application of building a clipper that begins to do something on the web with text, just text. Other way of using this text is to delegate thoughts and tasks at the instance of thinking or chatting. This is just the begining.
Until before Todoed this is how you could have treated your web discoveries :
- Bookmark into categories.
- Read it later / pocket / etc.
- Now, you can add it as a todo. (Courtesy: Todoed)
- Now, you can even delegate it as a todo exactly the moment you discover it, without any more additional steps than what you would have done if you were bookmarking it into a category. (Courtesy: Todoed)
- Since it is bookmarking tool, it will also be a sharing tool, with which you can share on twitter and facebook.
( Readers please comment here to tell me what are the other ways in which you use your daily browser discoveries on the web )
So now you have a new way of treating your web discoveries other than bookmarking, pocketing, reading later etc.
Browser Extension View: Only the tasks which are assigned to the user and are open will show up on the extension view. Period. We want to keep the extension view to minimum.
Anyway, the possibilities are endless, but on the full page view.
In short: So when the text is now highlighted on the browser and right clicked upon, the options that can be seen are ‘Add to Todoed’ > the names of people in single hierarchy, and only that. That todo can be delegated to any name, including self.
So it is a browsing assistant, assisting the user as if everything thought, typed, and/or spotted on the web browser is a delegate-able todo item first.
Market: Freelancers, researchers, small teams, startups, or simply put any one who works. But mostly importantly, the market we as Preseed are driven to serve anyway, the market of ‘potential entrepreneurs’ of the future.
The fundamental profoundness of Todoed is in suggesting most discoveries on the browser or thoughts in the mind, or conversations with coworkers are a todo first exactly at that instance. That is the first step.
This browsing assistant will have a near 0 learning curve. That is why it would be the easiest to adopt. That is why I also think it would be the greatest productivity extension on Google chrome, to say the least.
Other interesting tweaks :
- What we are doing with #tags is going to take todo listing to the fastest way of organizing tasks into projects.
- Also the way we are tackling the reminders to make them seem almost seamless and click free.
Note-: I can see more into the vision of the product than I can ever fully write about for lack of time for writing. So, for now, this should be good.
The least I can say is that Todoed can be the greatest productivity extension for chrome ever. And we must repeat that on Android and iOS to be the greatest there as well.
The vision of Todoed encompasses todo list tools, bookmarking tools, research tools, information curation tools for further social media sharing, and productivity chat apps.
Did we tell you that we are looking to make an invisible productivity tool out of Todeod? We have covered that part really well on our Slide Deck. And some of that vision could be felt on our new website under development www.todoed.co/forslack
A lot of research and education work will be done on Laptop browser. So I picked google chrome as the web browser of choice for the men and women of ideas, and made an extension for that browser, which could open into web to show in detail on a large screen, communicated tasks and studying material collected from the web. And named it Todoed.
In short, I would like to leave the world more productive, before I leave it. That is why we are building this product.
Should this lead the word to be more productive than it is already? Yes. May be not entirely as of where the product is NOW. Continue reading this rather long write up to know, what’s in Todoed beyond now, and how Todoed beyond now, can leave the world far more productive than it is now.
Todoed is a productivity chrome extension that allows the user to clip and delegate any text from anywhere on the web. It is simple yet powerful. The following image is about a small moment right during our work chat on Slack as todos were being discussed, one of our team members burst out and shared some love. Life is about such small moments, isn’t it? ☺
As we are chatting upon the work, all that needs to be done is clip the actionable text straight from within Slack’s web app and move on with actually acting upon it. If I expected my team to use trello or asana at this moment — they would have to pause work and open up their tool to copy > paste and submit text to save it. Below I will share an example of how clipping actually works. Follow along
Todo’s are saved and are able to be viewed on the users chrome extension plugin and dashboard views.
I am sure after reading this you get a glimpse of how Todoed fits into the life of our tribe. I would love to know more about how Todoed fits into yours too, go ahead try it!
Keep being productive!
Thanks for reading,
But that above, is just my solution for improving productivity when on the browser.
Todoed — We are not trying to start the journey by saying “users come and chat on our platform. We are infact saying, chat anywhere. Mark your actionable chat sentences from there into todos on Todoed.
Todoed beyond now — When we do become the chat product, our design of that chat product for productivity is fundamentally different than any other chat product thought of so far by even the big guys.
So, 2 years later…
Basically, in its current form and shape, if you are chatting on the browser, or sitting on the browser and happened to have a thought, which you may want to record, organize and delegate to your team member or yourself, Todoed is the best tool to do that; seamlessly.
The whole journey of Todoed was to be about different ways in which, using our fundamental of seamless thought recording, delegation and organising, we make your life more productive. Including sharing of your todos to other platforms on the internet, as seamlessly as you sent it to your Todoed in the first place.
What about mobile? (Chattodo)
Wait for it. I have an extraordinary vision for Todoed on mobile too.
I wrote another article about Todoed beyond now. It will show the ability Todoed has when imagined in a bigger avatar. It is this essay that went on to become Chattodo 2 years later.
We are on a mission to making todo listing, delegating and organising be seamless on your mobile and desktop. Seamless to your browsing, thinking and chatting habits.
How will a user of Slack find Todoed useful?
Slack is a work messaging app. And the best one at that. When you communicate with your team members instantly, you need to also be able to create todo lists instantly. That is what Todoed is going to do for you.
Now lets look at the big market of people who are not using task management tools. Those like 2 friends getting started to build an app. Both chat on fb messenger. The non professional world of todo lists between two people do not require asana, slack and the likes.
BTW, can you imagine the functioning of the other productivity app extensions, on the mobile phone when two people are chatting. In our case, just select a text and delegate, and continue to chat. No need to close your chat app to go to your todo listing app to save the todo.
Can you do this with other productivity apps in the market? I don’t think for them it would be a matter as simple as what we have inscribed by way of our punchline ‘Turn any text into a task with just one right click’
Lets now think of this product on the mobile further. (and even browsers on laptops)
Highlight text, long press to ‘see options’ like cut, copy, add to Todoed; show collaborators names; delegate, done. Just these steps for the user to achieve what this product is meant to help them achieve at the very instance of communication or discovery on the browser.
At first, the least we will do on the mobile is, give an app that corresponds to the current full view of Todoed on the web.
Lets dive deeper into ‘see options’.
This instance is at the core of design fundamentals of Todoed. This ‘see option’ action should have a clear call to action. What is that call to action? Who do I delegate to, is that clear call to action. Now however, delegation could be to self or to others, when achieved, the todo item is in the logs and better view-able (with more possibilities) on the full view screen of the app or mobile site. This is part of the mobile app and full view screen of the browser.
It is here that — to approach this product continue to serve as a todo list , now headed for integration with other task management tool, should have features like add to asana, and then the task goes, it is struck through over here, indicating where did it go. if it were sent. However, I think, lot of tasks will be taken care of right here, e.g. I browse and find some iteresting article for Sahil I send it to his todoed. He doesn’t need to take it to Asana. He will tackle it here itself. May be he will send it to Kippt, or readability, pocket, ever note etc.. This is how bookmarks may be treated, when they need to be placed in a category, when not, Todoed itself will work as a book marking tool.
When the text is pushed elsewhere, it is closed on todoed.
Only his tasks which are open and are yet to be done by him or yet to be pushed on some other tool by the user will show up on the extension view.
Anyway, the possibilities are endless, but on the full page view.
So when the text is now highlighted, the options that can be seen are still the same, the names of people, and only that, it can be delegated to, including self. However when they open the full view section/or the mobile app they can do some more.
Todoed was instrumental in giving us a clear Product mission, as described in step 1. So much that I pivoted Preseed to become a support organisation for Todoed, later Chattodo. Where Todoed becomes, clipping tool on Google Chrome, which can create a task / node in Chattodo from any window on Google chrome browser.
The design of Todoed on the mobile is not only a todo listing tool, but a chat app of sorts, made mobile-first and ‘productivity’ first. Meaning-making chats even more actionable and tasks discussed there, even more accountable; then the Todoed as a mere seamless todo listing app. This design of it is a better take on one on one communication between team members, than Slack or anything else in the past, if the goal was, to not just empower teams to chat, but also to make them accountable at the same instance of chatting a task. This will eat Slack’s share of the chatting market. I assure you.
What’s new about what you’re making? What substitutes do people resort to because it doesn’t exist yet (or they don’t know about it)?:
Clear strength of Todoed is in its novelty in seamless-ness and purpose.
Todoed enables users to turn any selected text, into a delegated todo, with just a right click (browser) or with just a long touch (mobile).
The substitute for people is — Open their existing todo tools/wunderlist/any.do/trello in the middle of a chat/discoveries or after, to physically type a todo, leading to duplication of effort and breaking of the workflow. Todoed offers the simplicity of not having to break user’s workflow. Todoed also makes web discoveries/bookmarking delegate-able seamlessly; not found in existing bookmarkng tools like google bookmarks/kippt. ‘Todeod chat’ will take productive chatting to a whole new level of accountability. Todoed is fundametally different, even in (near future) design.
Who are your competitors, and what do you understand about your business that other companies in it just don’t get?:
Competitors- Any.do/Trello/Todoist/Wunderlist, Evernote/Pocket/Kifi/Kippt/Buffer, and Slack/Coptap. Since, thinking/working in this new age, happens alongside browsing and chatting, Todoed is a tool, assisting users as if everything useful;
thought, typed and/or spotted on the web is a ‘delegate-able’ todo item first. They also do not understand that the user does not wish to break their workflow while adding/delegating a todo. Todoed offers that exact seamless-ness/simplicity, to say the least. Todo listing tools for teams, need to double up as actionable/accountable chat apps because todos are not in isolation, todo tools need communication too; and triple up as web clippers. Perhaps, perceive Todoed as a ‘DO IT LATER’ web/text clipper which has applications like to-do listing/organizing, bookmarking/collecting digital-content, chatting, and delegating/sharing those, seamlessly.
How will you get users? How do or will you make money? How does this become a giant company?:
Currently we are working on following methods — press mentions for early awareness(featured on YourStory/PC World/CNET) and early adopters for feedback via producthunt/hackernews/angelist/blnkk etc. We are building internal explosive user referral system, incentivizing adding of collaborators for internal growth is in the making, to build a growth engine out of the app’s flow. Besides that content marketing, direct company(b2b) pitches, app store optimization, using growth tools like Mturk, Nouncy, Appvirality, Branch.io, Snip.ly, Sumome etc.
Revenue: Freemium model (will open more features, more user collaboration, deeper integration with other tools, privately owned data by organizations).
This becomes a giant company mainly through our internal growth engine in the making and integration with partners like Slack, Trello, Facebook/whatsapp, close integration with android/ios.
Humbly, if I have to tell you in two sentences, the most impressive thing about this team / startup:
Built a near flawless working and well used, live web alpha version of Todoed, as a result of a solid interpersonal bond of faith, respect, love and full time commitment between the 3 people (Nishchal, Raj, Ansal) that make up the Todoed core team now.
Note-: These are the following areas of work that will encompass Todoed tech — voice, intelligence, smart collections, bookmarks, sharing of content, transfer of todos to other platforms — like pivotal, trello seamlessly. Chat experience unlike any other productivity chat experience so far and also artificial intelligence. All of the above — delegated with just one more step. I can see more into the vision of the product than I can ever fully write about. I can see what it will disrupt.
Anyway, the product vision can be worked on further, we have at least found the first steps to take. These first steps are well indicated on our road map document.
1st year: Achieving the call to action — Who and what to delegate to?
2nd year (2016) : Achieving the call to action — Where to send the clipped info? (Meaning, integration of Todoed with Chattodo)
So, in two years this product would be — used to delegate a todo(1st year) and then act upon the delegated todo boundlessly (2nd year). However the 3party API integration possibilities will be created in the first year itself as indicated on the product road map
After we have won the mobile space, this follows :
In category #2, we need to be quick and create a framework so that adding new software is a piece of cake and can be done literally overnight. Also, it need to be much more than a clipping tool. It needs to have annotation and become more like a “browser assistant” which allows a person to document the research and immediately push to different platforms. We can call it “ROI driven browsing”, since most of the time people waste time and forget to document the research and deviate from the “real action”.
We must first make todoed as it is, better and stable, and absolutely a seamless experience on the mobile too. I would first like us to deliver on this. Then we will take it in this direction:
Create the “clipping” plugin, add annotation features like Diigo and connect it with 50 different online tools, such that using a single extension, as user can update task in his task management software, push a bug into bugzilla, create a job in basecamp, make a research note in evernote — all from one single interface on a click. This means, using one clipping tool, he can quickly pick things, add notes, push them to the right tool that he is using and make his life simpler.