What if we built that new time-tracking tool ourselves?
Hopped up on spirit and ambition, we self-funded our first R&D project: a real-time time tracking solution sprung to life from a collection of elegant napkin sketches. We called it "my time."
Or was it, "myTime?"
myTime 1.0 was originally built for iPad for one very deliberate reason: so that we could easily tap our timers without interrupting our desktop computer workflow. And so that we could see our timers running. And so that we could track time on the go.
So maybe it was built for three very deliberate reasons.
TRIAL BY FIRE IN THE APP STORE
In March 2012, we decided to share our product with the world and released it to the Apple Store under the name "mytime Organizer."
Actually our plan was to quietly publish the app and then invite 50-100 of our closest friends and work allies to try it out and give us some feedback.
That didn't happen.
Within two days of being published, the app was downloaded over 10,000 times! We hadn't even spent a penny on marketing or awareness and Apple named us among the Great Canadian and Best Productivity Apps.
Some people might call that a blessing. But for us it was a curse.
For starters, mytime wasn't even its own company. It was an offspring of our (still growing) service business, which had meanwhile evolved into an award-winning development shop.
We didn't have the tools or the resources to properly support our new My Time customers. Reviews were piling in daily and we couldn't adequately respond.
$4.99 you must be crazy!
We took a very different approach to pricing the app. Actually we borrowed from the in-app purchase model that has served gaming so well but has never really been explored for productivity tools in the iOS app marketplace.
Our model was "free to download the app with 50 trackable hours and then you buy additional blocks of hours for $4.99."
The cost actually worked out to about 13 cents per hour tracked. Meaning, if you were a freelancer or a very small business looking for better ways to manage your time and bill your clients properly, you could improve significantly for pennies.
This model was not received well.
We lost a lot of customers early on but we stuck with the model, eventually reducing the price to $1.99. Things settled down and we set out to take our product to the next level.
FROM MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT TO MAXIMUM VALUE PROPOSITION
In the early prototype we wanted to test a single hypothesis: if you make it simple, will people do it?
By providing an elementary interface design and doing away with the task of time entry, we proved that changing the behavior could change the results.
Our own reporting accuracy improved by 30% almost instantly after adopting the tool internally.
The next step was to figure out a way to consolidate this better data into a central reporting system.
We wanted to give business owners like ourselves and our clients the ability to quickly spot problem projects, analyze the underlying inefficiencies and protect profits before it was too late.
By switching away from iOS to a fully responsive HTML5 web application we were also able to preserve the device-optimized interface approach while making the tool more broadly accessible.
And we made some other decisions too.
We relocated to Los Angeles, California, because it never snows here in January.
We also ditched "myTime" and renamed the product My Time Blocks. Partly because we never could agree on how to spell our name and because, we discovered, there's several dozen dissimilar products out there already called some form of "my time."
BETTER BUSINESS THROUGH PRODUCTIVITY
My Time Blocks is a business founded by career entrepreneurs.
We believe business can be made better through technology. When applied in the context of solving problems (of efficiency, of consistency, of positive change), we find that automation can contribute to profitability and create a wealth of time, redirecting energy instead toward valuable pursuits such as family, education and personal goals.
We are proud to bring this product to you at long last, because we also believe better time management is within every person's reach.
We hope you'll accept our personal invitation to change your business today.
Suzanne, Andrew and Michael.