Why are you making an incredibly useful app??? (Part 1)
Yes, someone did ask me that last week, when I was in Madrid, on study leave for my MBA. I had just shared ReMynd with a professor if innovation.
And it wasn't I who mentioned it was incredibly useful, though, of course I think it is! This colleague of mine used it, loved it, saw the value in it, and blurted the question out. I can understand the true nature of the question - it wasn't about the app, it was about why I, Zubin, built it. And part of the wonder was how I built it.
Let me start with the "why".
|some early designs from my friend Nicola
Every year I give myself a personal stretch project. Last year it was about learning first-had about entrepreneurship. The theory, effort, discipline, best practice, self mastery, courage and sheer hard work it takes to even develop an idea single-handedly. I got accepted into the Founder Institute chapter in Melbourne and went half way through the program before I had to bow out to go to Indonesia on work for several weeks ]. However, through all that I managed to design, conceptualise, develop and test my idea. I even hired a small team of freelancers in different parts of the world to develop my ability to lead diverse virtual teams. We built the Noble Genie platform, and it sits on my server at home today, waiting to be unveiled. Regardless of whether I press play on Noble Genie, or not, between that experience and my experience setting up a JV for my employer in Indonesia I learned a massive amount about entrepreneurship.
This year, it was about understanding how basic software is developed. I studied a few coding languages, some computer science theory, and decided I wanted to know how to build an app. So I cast about in my head looking for a problem I really wanted to solve for myself. A simple, every day problem that is universal but not sexy enough to solve. I was clear that I didn't want to create a software business - I wanted to build something useful and meaningful, not necessarily profitable. I firmly believe that thinking about monetising it would contaminate my thinking. I had only one simple test to validate my idea - is it "damn useful".
And that brings me to the "how".
|This icon stuck despite mixed reactions!
ReMynd was born out of that stubborn insistence on ignoring profitability. Instead paid attention to things that irritated me everyday. Little failures of mine that I thought could be solved by technology. It wasn't long before I noticed just how forgetful and disorganised humans are. Of course, our enormous modern cognitive loads compound the problem - making us mentally tired, forgetful and also making it very hard for us to switch rapidly from task to task. Like all of you, I am perennially fielding a barrage of communication from people, and also barraging others with information often. A lot of the time I can't get through to people, or they can't get through to me. My brain holds lots of tiny, disparate bits of information that I need to share with others. Conversely, I need people to give me data that I don't always have handy.
And so it came to me one day that we have all these reminders that pop up annoyingly and uselessly at pre-set times. We have evolved to location based reminders too, so I know to call my mum for her birthday when I get home after work, for example. But, speaking from my personal experience with these, they're pretty annoying and useless because I snooze or dismiss them a lot more often than I use them. Because time is so fluid in a working day, what seemed like a good time four days ago is not any longer!
I also noted that I use sticky notes and scrawls on my hand to remind me of things I need to speak to people about. When I do make contact with those people I often don't have those sticky notes near me, or my scribbles on my skin have smudged indecipherably.
And it wasn't just me. Everyone I spoke to related to this problem - their eyes lit up when I asked them about it.
So I invented ReMynd.